Sunday, January 31, 2010
Death Row meal. A game that chef's play. Anthony Bourdain's is Bone Marrow Parsley Salad in London, mine is Sea Bass Soup in Minneapolis. I've had alot of great single dishes lately. The Charcuterie plate at Craftsman, Pozole at Chaska My Love, Pork Candy at Subo. While these dishes and many others I've had in the Twin Cities lately have been great, nothing can compare to the sea bass soup at Quang's. I have probably had this dish around 25 times in the last couple of years and that is saying a lot considering I live around 30 miles away. The broth has a diverse array of flavors and the sea bass melts in your mouth with a rich buttery note. I have never been dissapointed with this entree and I am amazed that a restaurant can serve a good portion of sea bass and a couple of shrimp for under $10. This dish is a steal. Please note they only serve this special on Fri-Sun.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
I am sad to report that the owner of Tian Jin has sold the restaraunt to a friend of his at the beginning of this year. Ryan and his wife Yin brought authentic Sichuan and Manadarin cuisine to the exurbs of Chanhassen. While Ryan's enthusiasm for authentic fare will be missed I am hopeful that Tian Jin will remain one of the Twin Cities best Chinese restaurants. The head chef who headed up Crystal Palace, a four star restaurant, in Tian Jin, China is staying. The new owners have also added to the wait staff which was always one of the problems at Tian Jin, the bad service always compromised the cooking. One of the new owners is from Shanghai and hinted that we may finally have good Shanghai soup dumplings in Minneapolis. On my last visit under new management I ordered the double cooked pork intestine which is pictured above. This dish really defines why Tian Jin is special. Think about it...Intestines. What could be more nasty. But in the hands of a skilled chef he has created a dish that is delicious. A dish that tastes like slow cooked pork belly that is all the rage these days. To make good Offal (Stomach, Intestines, Kidney's, etc..) is a thing of beauty. Anyone can cook a tenderloin or a filet Mignon but a truly good chef can work magic with the parts that only a peasent would eat. Below is a review that Jeremy Iggers (Former food critic for the Strib) did after I let him know that there was actually authentic Chinese in the Suburbs.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
I love Vietnamese food. Luckily I don't live too far from one of the Mecca's of Viet cuisine...Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis. You can't throw a bahn mi on this street without hitting a Vietnamese restaurant. One of my favorites sits on the end of Nicollet, Pho Tau Bay. They make what I believe to be the best Bun (vermicelli salad) in Minneapolis. Bun cha gio thit nuong (Egg roll and pork vermicelli salad- #42) really stands out. Made up of perfectly cooked vermicelli noodles and strikingly fresh lettuce, bean sprouts, cucumbers, mint, cilantro, and pickled carrots. With pork, egg rolls, and a handful of peanuts added it creates a symphony of vibrant flavors that defines Viet cuisine. The egg rolls are crisp and the pork has a charred flavor that balances the sweet. Don't forget to add some of the sweet fish sauce as it brings everything together.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
For all the Pole's living in the western suburbs getting lost trying to find Kramarczuk's in Nordeast...I have a tip. Check out Paradise Market in Hopkins. The market is full of European goods and has a large selection of Polish sausages. It looks like a lot of their stuff is coming from Chicago like the krupniok pictured. Krupniok is basically a Polish blood sausage. I also picked up some Cabanos or Kabanos, which is a garlicky smoked sausage great to snack on and I didn't have to wait for the In Laws to bring some in from Chicago. I doubt many people read this blog in the first place, but if you are Polish or a Polack sympathizer and take offense to the title of my post... Lighten up. My Grandmother who was born in Poland would have laughed.
Friday, January 8, 2010
You may have heard of David Chang, the hottest chef in New York City right now, cooking with a Korean/American fusion style at Momofuku. I first heard about him through Anthony Bourdain, but it wasn’t until my favorite Vietnamese cookbook author, Andrea Nguyen, spoke highly of his dishes that I took interest in his cuisine. I dove into his newly released cookbook and recreated his dishes at home and fell in love. I was excited to discover that a new restaurant has opened in Minneapolis of the same ilk as Chang’s famed Momofuku, but instead of fusing French technique and American taste with Korean cuisine like Chang has done, Chef Neil Guillen has incorporated Filipino cuisine in his newly opened restaurant Subo. The similarities between Chang and Guillen don’t end there, Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl wrote an article that rumored that a former restaurant that Guillen was a chef at, Kuma Inn in New York City, was possibly an inspiration to Chang as they were pioneers of small plate Asian fusion dishes. Any similarities were laid to rest when I visited Subo. Chef Guillen has created a menu that is truly unique. The Roasted pork candy which is a variation of the signature dish at Kuma Inn was incredible. It consisted of caramelized Chinese sausage swimming in vinaigrette of palm sugar and lime gastrique. I hope that Subo adds this vinaigrette to their drink list…it’s that good, a perfect balance of sweet and sour. This is a dish that I would love to recreate at home as it seems simple but according to the manager at Subo, Jean-Michel, it is quite difficult and time consuming. I will trust his judgment, especially after learning he is a member of the bone marrow fraternity. For those unfamiliar with bone marrow, or as many of us call it …God’s butter, it is the flexible tissue found in the center of a veal bone and when roasted and eaten is the equivalent of a culinary orgasm. I digress, as marrow is fodder for another rambling post. The Lechon Kewali was another incredible dish. It featured a perfectly deep fried pork belly with a crispy skin and a tender savory inside served with a spicy vinegar soy sauce. The sauce had chopped hot Thai chilies tempered nicely by the vinegar/soy sauce. It was complemented nicely with a hint of fish sauce that Jean-Michel said was made in house. Subo has so many incredible looking dishes that I would be doing you a disservice by trying to explain them all. I highly recommend checking this place out. I will leave you with a tip, definitely check out Happy Hour between 4 p.m to 6 p.m. Some of Subo’s popular dishes including the pork candy are discounted to $5 and there are some good Sakes offered at a great price.
Picture of Pork candy taken from msp.mag.com
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Eat street is known for having a plethora of great Mexican restaurants, but I have to add another one to the list representing the western suburbs. Chaska My Love is a gem located in a dilapidated strip mall in downtown Chaska. Do yourself a favor and don't be a gringo and order the fajitas. Order something authentic and trust Rosarita or her Mother to cook you something from their native Veracruz. Even Rosarita's boyfriend Mario can cook. My go to dish on the weekend is the menudo pictured above. The broth is incredible by itself but add some cilantro and onions to put it over the top. Tripe sometimes gets a bad rap for being tough and gamey but the tender pieces of tripe in Chaska My Love's version melt in your mouth with no unpleasant aftertaste. I will warn you that is a tough decision to pass up on another weekend special, Pozole de Cabeza. No, it's not the head (cabeza) of a pig but rather the cheek meat (cachete) that is served in a broth similar to Menudo that also has hominy mixed in. I think the tender cachete meat might give the pozole's broth a slight edge as I have never tasted a better broth, including some great Vietnamese Pho broth. Some of my other favorite's include their Torta Cubana, Chiles Rellenos Poblanos, Mojarra al Mojo de Ajo (Fried Garlic Mojarra) and of course their tacos served with any meat you can think of and a plate of onions, cilantro and house made tomatillo sauce. Make sure you brush up on your Spanish before you go though, although they do add numbered pictures on their wall for the gringos.
Chaska My Love