Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Posts Tagged ‘crab

It was a pleasant May in Seattle. I did not feel sodden as I did last spring and we were blessed with many glorious days as a prelude to the northern summer. On a pleasant Saturday we enjoyed apéritifs at Tavern Law and sauntered down to Momiji (紅葉) for dinner with a group of Australian expats and tourists.

The sister restaurant of Umi Sake House in Belltown, Momiji is Japanese for maple. Painted burgundy, the front bar featured a curious white latticed lampshade and was saturated in natural light.

With the exception of the wide street frontage, the layout of Momiji is the same as Umi’s. A corridor opened to a spacious dining room. The counter had a prime view of the sushi chefs deftly slicing sashimi and shaping nigiri.

At the centre was a serene Japanese garden.

We perused the comprehensive menu as I sipped a summery cocktail, The Getaway. In a tall glass was Hendrick’s Gin, Pimm’s and soda topped with a lychee.

We ordered an array of dishes among the seven of us. First was ahi pokē. Diced ahi tuna and cucumber were tossed with onion slivers, shichimi (Japanese seasoning), soy sauce and sesame seeds. The first time I ate pokē was at a Flying Fish cooking class. A Hawaiian salad, it had a luscious contrast of textures.

A plate of prawn and vegetable tempura was coated in a lumpy batter and pleasingly crunchy.

Poached beets, and a mound of arugula and shiso were drizzled with lemon vinaigrette.

Portions of grilled king crab was paired with ponzu dipping sauce and mixed greens. A generous serving, the crustacean was charred and meaty.

Soft shell crabs were pan fried to golden brown. The spindly morsels were sweet and succulent.

Wrinkled and charred, the half dozen prawn and scallop gyoza were juicy parcels of seafood encased in a thin wrapper.

Buckwheat noodles were stir-fried with cubes of tofu and an assortment of vegetables. Garnished with green onions, pickles and nori, the triangular bowl of yakisoba was a symphony of flavours.

With casual ambience and quality ingredients, Momiji is a delicious addition to 12th Avenue in Capitol Hill.

Advertisements

‘David Thompson‘s name is synonymous with Thai cuisine.’ From Darley Street Thai to Sailors Thai, he pioneered Thai eateries in Sydney. He is the Australian chef who opened a Thai restaurant in Bangkok. I was missing Asian food dearly and was delighted that the original Nahm in London was located near our hotel. In the boutique The Halkin, Nahm was an intimate dining experience.

Decorated in shades of tan and caramel, a row of round tables were in the middle of the dining room and the chairs were comfortable.

We snacked on meaty morsels of ma hor, an appetising amuse bouche courtesy of the chef. Minced prawns and chicken simmered in palm sugar, fried shallots, garlic and peanuts were atop segments of fresh pineapple and mandarin.

We ordered a selection of dishes to share between three. The first was latiang, chicken and crab egg nets with caramelised coconut and lemongrass. Popularised by Longrain chef Martin Boetz on MasterChef Australia, this version of egg nets was presented in a roll. A light lattice of fine egg strands encased a moist and fragrant filling.

Our waiter recommended the yam hua bplii gung, a fresh and zingy salad of grilled prawns and banana blossoms tossed with chilli jam.

Scottish scallops were stir fried with chillies and wild ginger. Plump discs paired with crunchy greens, the hoi shenn pat prik thai orn was simple yet luscious.

All three of us were duck lovers and the pbet yang pat tor huu yii was superb. Chinese style roast duck was on a bed of bean curd, basil and Siamese watercress. The savoury sauce and grassy herbs tempered the fatty duck.

A classic Thai curry, the geng mussaman neua had tender chunks of beef in a viscous paste of aromatics including cassia, cloves, cumin and shallots. Generous dollops were savoured on steamed rice.

The others sipped coffee while I perused the dessert menu. A silver bowl contained rock sugar which had a mellow sweetness.

Kanom mor geng peuak, a scoop of charred coconut pudding were angled on a taro fritter. The two white blobs were kao mao bot, ancestor biscuits with a young coconut filling.

It was an expensive but delectable meal!

Listed alphabetically by state, Joe’s Shanghai (鹿鳴春) was in the New York section of CNN’s ‘50 best Chinese restaurants in the United States‘. In the same block as Momofuku Má Pêche and Momofuku Milk Bar in Midtown, Joe’s Shanghai is a double storey ‘centre of exotic specialties’.

I signalled a table for one and was ushered upstairs. Bronze deer and potted bamboos decorated the bay window. A tiered sparkling gold and crystal chandelier was suspended above the vestibule.

A curious specials menu included New Zealand mussels, T-bone steak and rack of lamb.

A mound of cold egg noodles was drizzled with sesame dressing, topped with julienned cucumber and served in a scallop shell shaped dish. I slurped the cold sesame noodles (芝麻冷麵), a simple but appetizing celebration of Chinese carbs.

The traditional trio of ginger slivers, soy sauce and vinegar were stirred in a bowl for dipping.

Joe’s Shanghai is famous for their soup dumplings. Six crab and pork xiao long bao (蟹粉小籠包) were on a bed of shredded Napa cabbage (黃芽白) in a steaming bamboo basket. The delicate morsels were juicy and meaty, although the skin was a little doughy.

Noodles and dumplings were requisite sustenance for shopping in Manhattan!

I have lamented the lack of authentic Chinese food in Seattle. I was pleased with Chiang’s and love the consistency of Din Tai Fung but I really miss yum cha (飲茶), the traditional Cantonese lunch of dim sum (點心). I was adamant that Seattleites have to travel north to Richmond in Vancouver for variety and quality until Shirley introduced me to Jade Garden (翠苑酒家).

Regal in red, a festive cartoon dragon (龍年) denoted the Lunar New Year (農曆新年).

A school size chalkboard listed the daily specials in calligraphy (English) and scrawl (Chinese).

As with many Chinese restaurants, the interior is austere. Drab walls, plain tables, sturdy chairs, chipped china and Lazy Susans are the standard! Jade Garden is a labyrinth of dining rooms. When I was directed to our table at the back I thought I had to walk through the kitchen!

A card was stamped to record orders from the carts.

The condiments (醬油) tray consisted of salt and pepper shakers, soy and vinegar bottles, and a mysterious stainless steel container.

Shirley explained that it’s the homemade chilli sauce (辣椒醬) which was a well blended paste.

Stacked high with steaming bamboo baskets, ladies (and it’s always ladies) wheeled carts to hawk their dumplings. First were pork and prawn dumplings (燒賣). Minced pork, prawn and shiitake mushroom (冬菇) are lumped in a thin wrapper and dotted with roe. These were a tender version of the meaty morsels.

The other classic was prawn dumplings (蝦餃). Translucent and pleated, the starchy wrapper encased chunks of succulent prawns. The skin was a little thick and I doused these in the homemade chilli sauce.

These beige blobs were deceptive in appearance. We happily slurped the fragrant broth of the soup dumplings (小籠包).

Tinged with green, the prawn and chive dumplings are a variation of prawn dumplings.

Similarly, the prawn and crab dumplings had mounds of shredded crab on top of the wrappers.

Fried food was next. These awkward objects were taro dumplings (芋角). The puffed taro outer shell was crispy, crumbling at each bite, contrasting with the porky texture inside.

Golden and football shaped, these mochi like dumplings (鹹水角) had a glutinous, sticky coating. Its sweetness contrasted with the salty filling.

The final savoury selection was stir-fried noodles (炒麵). Curly thin noodles were tossed with bean sprouts and chives, a homely vegetarian dish.

Rolled in sesame seeds, these mochi balls with lotus seed paste (蓮蓉煎堆) were nutty and chewy.

And finally my favourite Chinese dessert, custard tarts (蛋撻). Traditionally baked in a flaky crust with an intense, creamy set custard, these are best savoured fresh from the oven.

The more the merrier for yum cha!

It’s been nearly two months since our meal at Momofuku Seiōbo. David Chang‘s first restaurant outside of New York City is located in The Star. The owners of the only casino in Sydney spent one billion dollars on the refurbishment over two years.

Torrential rain and peak hour traffic had us worried we would be late. We walked briskly, determined to be on time. Except we didn’t know where we were going. Located on the ground floor, there were no signs to direct you through the labyrinth. I recognised the names of the new restaurants and when we stopped outside Adriano Zumbo I panicked as we were at an exit. I looked left and right, and finally spotted the signature peach.

A wall of white slats and tinted glass was the exterior of Momofuku Seiōbo. We stared at the mirrored peach, squinting for an inside glimpse and I hesitated on how to enter the restaurant. Push or pull? And on what? Thankfully the door was opened for us!

A little flustered, we sat at the bar for an apéritif as we waited for our dining companions. We had returned from Brisbane that afternoon and we got into a confusing conversation with the bartender and maître d’ about where we were from and how far we had travelled for this dinner!

The half a dozen tables in the dining room were empty as patrons were seated at the counter of the open plan kitchen. A modern design of concrete walls and slate tiles, the interior was accented with artwork.

The dim lighting and muted tones showcased the open plan kitchen, radiant in stainless steel and a mirrored ceiling. Four of us sat at a right angle corner with a perfect view of the busy but quiet kitchen. An eclectic soundtrack of eighties and nighties pop and rock played in the background.

There was no à la carte menu at Momofuku Seiōbo. The fifteen course tasting menu was AU$175 per person and an additional AU$95 for beverage pairings.

Snacks were eaten by hand. Clockwise from top right: mochi, shiitake chips, nori and unknown. I did not take any notes and some of the courses were different on the printed menu and thus, my apologies for the unknown which was listed as smoked potato.

I had been to Momofuku Noodle Bar and Momofuku Má Pêche in New York but the pork bun eluded me. Wedged in a pillowy steamed bun was tender pork belly garnished with cucumber and hoisin sauce. A cute bottle of Sriracha was optional condiment. If David Chang opened a pork bun food truck, people would queue for blocks for these. Christina Tosi bakes crack pie, David Chang makes crack bun.

Our first course with cutlery was lightly cured striped trumpeter with blood orange jelly and dusted with nori. Ethereal and fresh, this whetted our appetite for local ingredients.

Spears of caramelised white asparagus and green onions accompanied a lump of marron sprinkled with Szechuan pepper.

We were enjoying watching the chefs cook, plate and serve. We noticed a man at the back mixing a vat of by hand and we speculated that it was kimchee. The man looked up and we gasped. It was David Chang! He was in the kitchen most of the evening, supervising, tasting, steering. The chefs huddled and listened intently when he spoke.

In a large ceramic bowl, a beautiful layer of radish and edible flowers shielded mini cubes of beef, fermented black bean and burnt watermelon oil. It was pungent and had a distinct Chinese character.

Beneath charred chunks of Jerusalem artichoke were slivers of smoked eel and pink grapefruit.

There was a collective sigh as we ate our first bite of swimmer and spanner crab in butter and pepper sauce with Yorkshire pudding. It was delicate yet intense, an accent at the half way point.

Silky steamed egg custard was simply enhanced by toasted rice and brown butter broth.

The hand torn pasta was a curious but delicious course. Wide ribbons were covered with pickled cherry tomatoes, whipped goat cheese and deep fried basil leaves. Spiked with chilli and mint, it was a tangy, textural combination laced with heat.

After nine courses a glazed pork shoulder appeared at the plating station under a heat lamp. Various chefs took turns staring at it. We glanced at it between courses and mused that it could be a staff meal.

An encore from the striped trumpeter manifested as a fillet with fennel and wakame.

Seared lamb neck, halved pickled turnips and a quenelle of roasted puréed daikon was elegant. The acidity and bitterness balanced the meaty medallion.

A whimsical interpretation of cheese course, the sharpness of finely grated Pecorino was tempered by honey liquorice and bee pollen.

The first of two dessert courses was shards of chanterelle shaped milk skins stacked atop the wattleseed meringue, a native Australian bush food, and malt ice cream.

Asian cuisines are not known for desserts and I was surprised that there were two on the tasting menu. Separately, miso ice cream, pickled strawberries, toasted rice pudding and mochi seemed like a flavour sampler. Mixed together though and it was a delectable medley of sweet, sour and umami.

The degustation had progressed at a steady pace and the wine, beer and sake pairings were exceptional. We had whiled away two and a half hours and we were considering digestifs when we were presented with the slow cooked pork shoulder that we had been greedily eyeing! In a shallow pool of marinade, we gently pulled at the caramelised pork with our fingers and it was the perfect conclusion.

A printed copy of the tasting menu was souvenir for an impeccable experience.

Sydney has a high cost of living and this was the most expensive meal we’ve had. It’s been a challenge to articulate the details so please read the professional reviews by Pat Nourse and Terry Durack. Momofuku Seiōbo was my highlight of 2011!

The Boeing Dreamliner, President Obama and Princess Mary all followed us to Australia. We’re enjoying the sunshine, jacarandas in bloom, wearing sunglasses and flip-flops, nostalgic walks, and sentimental meals.

Restore, revitalise, rejuvenate. Despite the beauty of the Seattle autumn I’ve had a bout of homesickness and this was a timely trip home.

In an effort to adjust to the time zone we spent our first day in Sydney in the city. We got lost in the asymmetrical corridors and oddly shaped levels of the new Westfield Sydney. I was delighted at the selection of restaurants and we had an early lunch at Chat Thai.

A modern and stylish design, the entrance of the eatery had a row of leather chairs and tiered floral displays. Timber planks covered the ceiling and a gleaming open plan kitchen entertained the crowds.

The interior is decorated in muted tones and featured exposed brick walls. Round and rectangle tables accommodated groups of varying sizes. We were seated quickly just before midday and within ten minutes the dining room was full.

The menu was a colour printed, hardcopy bound book with scrumptious photography. I had read that it had been ‘souvenired’ by many diners!

As is the custom at many Asian restaurants, the menu items were numbered. Nearly ninety dishes were categorised as starters, grilled and fried, spicy salads, curries and soups, wok fried, seafood, noodles, and ‘one plate wonders’. There was a separate menu for desserts and beverages.

A balance of salty, sweet, sour and bitter flavours is fundamental to Thai cuisine. Glass containers of condiments could be requested to moderate the seasoning.

Sticky and chewy, bites of fresh spring rolls were appetising. Smoked fish sausage, chicken and crab were wrapped in rice paper and doused in caramelised tamarind relish.

Morsels of poached snapper were tossed with a spicy dressing and salad leaves. The larpb bpla was fiery and delicious.

Ba mee haeng bped, roast duck with egg noodles, were piled into a ceramic bowl and garnished with green onions and cilantro. Simple yet delicious, the firm strands of egg noodles were perfectly paired with tender pieces of duck.

We reluctantly left without dessert but I lingered at the counter and spotted trays of kanom buaing, sweet wafers with meringue, and threads of candied egg yolk and herbs.

A basket of ripe mangoes were ready for sticky rice.

Instead of an apple a day, I will be eating mangoes!

Lake Washington is a mental divider. Across the bridge is the Eastside, ‘over there’ is suburbia. Having lived in Sydney, driving for twenty minutes to get to a restaurant is considered fast! We don’t own a car here and we like the convenience of Zipcar. And we’re lucky to have generous friends who kindly drive us to and from places in exchange for our pleasant company!

The Seattle Foodies First Friday Lunch Club this month was held on the Eastside at Café Juanita in Kirkland. It was a cheerful couple of hours with Carol, Shirley, Kimberly, Leslie and Erin.

Winner of the 2008 James Beard Foundation Best Chef Northwest Award, Chef Holly Smith opened for lunch just for us. In serene surroundings, the L shaped restaurant has windows with a view of leafy trees.

Next to the entrance are a long kitchen and a multipurpose bench.

Polished stemware is proudly displayed and muted tones are brightened by pastel mint accents.

We nibbled on fluffy bread with salted butter, and Parmesan and herb crisps.

Served in an asymmetrical oval bowl, the Alaskan king crab with green apple sorbetto and crab butter powder was artistically presented. The crustacean leg was succulent and the taste of the ocean contrasted with the tart sorbetto. It was a delightful pairing that whetted our appetite for Holly’s food.

The main course was rabbit braised in Arneis with chickpea gnocchi, porcini and house made pancetta. I don’t eat rabbit but my dining companions liked the tender meat and the texture of the gnocchi.

I had an alternative main of quail stuffed with house made ricotta and pancetta in reduction sauce with sweetbreads and chanterelles. A syrupy sauce simmered over many hours and reduced from litres to cups, it had a piquancy that complemented the other components of the dish.

The highlight of the meal was dessert. Resting in a puddle of Cardoon blossom honey, the panna votta was speckled with vanilla salt. It was a perfectly balanced dessert – creamy yet light, fragrant and sweet with bursts of saltiness. Matching wines were available and the Cascina del Santuario 2009 Moscato d’Asti from Piedmont intensified the flavours of the silky panna cotta.

October’s lunch concluded with brutti ma buoni. These ‘ugly but good’ hazelnut meringues crumbled and melted, and would be lovely with a cup of tea.

Sincere thanks to Darryl and Holly for an ethereal dining experience!


Enter your email address to subscribe to Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 453 other followers

Categories

Archive

Creative Commons License
Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
© 2011 Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs - all rights reserved