Posts Tagged ‘pate’
various locations throughout the valley – http://www.chowtruck.com
I have many hopes for the future. Balanced budgets, a sane health care system, peace in the world, all over the world.
One hope trumps them all right now, though. And that hope is that SuAn Chow decides to make the current shrimp bahn mi slider with garlic ginger aioli & pickled radish special a permanent part of the menu. It would put to rest forever what my go-to at Chow Truck should be. One of these and an order of calamari and I’d be set in perpetuity.
The panko-encrusted shrimp is cooked perfectly. It’s tender, moist, and rather generous in portion so that it doesn’t get lost in the slider bun and all the rest of the sandwich fillings.
A shrimp slider of some sort has graced the specials menu many times in the past. This is, by far, the best of the lot, and mostly because of some beautifully balanced pickled radishes and carrots. The sandwich also hits another common bahn mi note with some julienne cucumber.
Subbing in for the usual pate and mayo is a devilishly delicious garlic ginger aioli. I’ll admit that I miss the pate. Then again, if the pate were to magically appear, it’s entirely possible that my head might explode from the beauty of it all.
I love what I see so far.
Unfortunately, when I rolled up about 1:30, they were sold out of the bahn mi and the falafel sandwiches. Oliver commiserated with me, offering that they’re doing dinner for Gallery Stroll. I was too hungry to wait, though, so I took what I could get.
Kimchi dog. It’s a basic hot dog. That is all that is basic about it. It is topped with delicious, scratch-made kimchi and an aioli. The alternating cooling from the aioli and the heat from the kimchi made my slavering mouth dance. The rather unique bun was soft and maybe a little big for the dog and fixings, but that’s a tiny complaint in the middle of a huge rave.
Greens and fries. Sauteed kale and onions with a generous helping of sweet chili oil on the top and some more of that house aioli. I’m not the world’s greatest fan of fries. Well, let me back that one up a bit. I do like fries, but somewhere in the middle of a serving of them, the fat and carb guilt catch up to my enjoyment and I stop. I ate every single spud this time around. The earthiness of the kale works perfectly with the potatoes, and that chili oil and aioli lift the whole thing to another level.
I might be headed back for dinner. He was kind enough to let me sample the pate that goes on the bahn mi, and if the rest of the sandwich comes close to it, I’m about to be a very happy guy.
I headed back for dinner. It was a bit of a mixed bag, but all of the pieces appear to be there for Lewis Bros. to be a force to be reckoned with.
The bahn mi was tasty. The pate is the best of any that appears on the sandwiches locally. I might ask for a side of nothing but it next time. The pulled pork and pork belly were both excellent, as were the pickled veg. On the downside, the really soft roll they are using meant the sandwich fell apart in my hands in very short order. And, while a $6 sandwich doesn’t seem out of line in general, this one is by far the smallest in size of any of the local bahn mi as well as one of the more expensive.
The kimchi fries hold promise. I had the Greens and Fries for lunch and the fries were crispy, but this evening’s fries were pretty floppy. I figured that might be a result of the wet kimchi on top of them, but some additional prodding made it clear that they were simply undercooked. The kimchi was a tasting topping, though, so had the fries been cooked, this dish would have been a winner.
That’s a lot of negative talk to still be giving a four-star recommendation, isn’t it? Here’s why: taste, taste, and taste. The food is tasty and even the dishes that aren’t perfectly executed show all sorts of promise to be so in the future.
Oh Mai Vietnamese Sandwich Kitchen
3425 S State St
Salt Lake City, UT 84115
My bias from the outset: I love bánh mì, and love that I have a variety of places to choose from to get them in SLC. The only downside of the status quo is that they all reside on a ten block stretch of each other on Redwood Road, a substantial drive from my place. So when I saw the sign for Oh Mai go up on State Street a month ago, was I rooting for them to be great? You bet I was.
My dreams have come true. This place stands to save me many trips to the west side.
The bánh mì that I had, the S1 Cold Cuts, was as close to my gold standard, Spice Kit in San Francisco, as I’ve found in the area. On the protein side of the lineup, pork roll, jambon ham, pork head cheese, and a pork pate. The vegetation side: pickled daikon and carrot, jalapeno, cilantro, and cucumber. Surround that with a piece of bread that, while not the traditional so-crispy-that-it-shatters-on- the-first-bite baguette, was nonetheless of the french variety, thoroughly toasted, and nicely dressed with garlic butter and mayo. It hits all of the usual bánh mì notes of unctuous, sweet from the vegetables, and substantial from the meat. At only $3.88, it is ridiculously inexpensive. Something about the more substantial bread and the generous toppings also makes this a much more filling sandwich than any of its brethren further west.
Despite being stuffed, I also had some pho, which was highly tasty. I loved the broth in particular. But, for me, this place was about the sandwich. In talking with the staff, they said that they plan to start offering the more traditional chicken liver pate with the sandwich, as well as green papaya salad in the future.
The hours on the door are 9:30a to 8:30p, 7 days a week. I think that may, coincidentally, describe my return schedule for the place, too.
March 29, 2011
WonderCon and a host of new food experiences have beckoned us back to San Francisco. Among the experiences: we’re new parents, our daughter Ainsley having joined the family in October. So we not only attend a bit of the convention, but had our first family vacation.
Ainsley was her usual sweet self on the plane trip, so much so that I launched into the ambitious version of the first day’s eating: we checked into the hotel, dropped the bags, and hit BART to visit
Mr. Pollo – $15 Chef’s Tasting Menu
We left the hotel around 2pm, and I was worried that we may not arrive in time. Not only did we make it, but we’re rather lucky to have gotten there so late after lunch. Two of the four tables were already taken; a couple on what appears to be a first date had to slide over to another table to accommodate us. This place is tiny. The draw of a four-course tasting menu for $15 seemed worth a try, though. And chef Manny Torres Gimenez didn’t disappoint. Even considering how veggie-heavy the menu ended up being, it was high entertainment watching him through the lexan screen as he prepared labor-intensive food for six people simultaneously. All of the dishes were very much hands on. The couple next to us were also eating the chef’s menu, and they didn’t appear to get the same dishes, so I’m under the impression that Manny might just have been making this all up as he went.
Every dish was absolutely delicious. And, while there is only a touch of animal protein here and there, it’s clear that ingredients are important to the chef. I think in the dish descriptions we hear the phrase “farmers market” paired with “this morning” at least five times. We were served an empanada to start, followed by a soup, fish, and main course.
I officially declare this the closest I’m likely to come to enjoying vegetarian food.
Great start to the trip, and Ainsley had managed to charm both of the couples in the small dining area as well as the chef. We paid, left, and decided that we were still pretty hungry. I pulled up my SF Food map on the Droid X and we started a very long walk to a very tasty street that contains both ice cream and a bakery.
Tartine Bakery & Cafe – various baked goods
We stopped in here to quickly grab some cookies and other treats for dessert later that night. The place was absolutely packed to the rafters, with every table being taken and a long line going from the register along the display case and almost to the door. It was so long that rather than try to angle the stroller in, Loria sent me in on a solo mission and hung back by the door to entertain the baby. Having arrived in the later afternoon, I tried to peek through the line to see what is left. The cases were full of cookies, tarts, and breads, and each looked very inviting. For some reason I was feeling rushed, so I started pointing at random cookies without really getting a good sense of what looked best. I decided to skip the $6.50 miniature banana cream tart and ended up with a variety of cookies. As the line moved along the case, I inevitably saw this chocolate chip doodad or that walnut butter whatever, eventually requiring the patient woman helping me to bag my selections three separate times.
Later that night, we dug in and are fairly disappointed. Nothing tasted bad, per se, but it all felt like pretty standard bakery fare. It all looked much better than it tasted, unfortunately, and a few of the cookies went unfinished. It’s only later that I remembered that the place is renowned for its double pain au chocolat, but given how the rest of the cookies ended up, I didn’t feel terrible that we missed out.
Just up the street from Tartine was our real destination.
Bi-Rite Creamery – Roasted Banana, Orange Cardamom, Salted Caramel, and Brown Butter Pecan Ice Cream
This was high on my list of places we missed last year, so I was rather excited on arriving here. It’s doubly exciting because this was to be Ainsley’s first taste of ice cream.
I started with Roasted Banana. Intense banana flavor, dark brown flavor, and it is just beautiful. It’s one note played perfectly. Next was Brown Butter Pecan. I love butter pecan ice cream in general. I’ve been anticipating what nice dark notes browning the butter might accomplish. I was slightly disappointed on that front: if the butter was browned much before this batch was made, it doesn’t appear to change the taste of the ice cream much from what I expected. Still, it’s a really good incarnation of butter pecan.
Next up, Orange Cardamom. There are floral notes to the orange flavor that pair very nicely with the cardamom, which is fairly understated by comparison. I would absolutely order this again, though, as it’s a lovely counterpoint to the fourth flavor, Salted Caramel. The first bite of this flavor had me hooked. It is intensely burned sugar with some surprising and welcome bitter notes. In fact, this is probably the most intense caramel flavor I’ve had, bar none. Some of that is likely due to the salt, but it’s seems mostly intended. That they get a flavor that strong to show up in a frozen dessert is impressive enough, but it showing up in a dairy dessert, which has a tendency to dampen the intensity of most flavors, is absolutely noteworthy. And, although Ainsley clearly enjoyed the banana and orange cardamom flavors, she really seemed to enjoy the caramel. Mom and I agreed.
After a return to the hotel for some rest, we take a trolley up Market to First Street and then walk the rest of the way to
Spice Kit – Bánh mì Sandwich
With names like Thomas Keller and Ron Siegel on their resumes, Will Pacio and Fred Tang present well-cooked and easily understood Asian fast food at Spice Kit. I’m glad we hit this place our first night, as it would become a go-to choice from the rest of the trip. The concept is simple: choose a sandwich, wrap, or salad as the platform and then choose a protein. We had two bánh mì sandwiches, one with roasted pork and one with beef shortribs. This was my first foray into bánh mì territory. It’s a Vietnamese sandwich traditionally garnished with liver pate, mayonnaise, a slaw of pickled carrot and daikon, cucumber, and cilantro. The shortribs weren’t bad, but the roasted pork was perfect. The acid in the slaw cuts through the fat of the pate and pork and adds a nice, bright note. I have had dreams about that pork bánh mì since then, and have already located a recipe for pate that I want to try making soon. If Out the Door didn’t have proximity going for it, I suspect Spice Kit would have become our default choice for a quick meal.
We also ordered some steamed pork buns. My experience with the dish in the past has been a soft, pillowy dough which completely surrounded a chopped pork filling similar to what you might find in an egg roll, only a bit sweeter. The Spice Kit take on them is a grilled slab of pork belly basted with hoisin and some veggies. They were delicious, but I’ll admit that I was far too enamored with the bánh mì to get terribly excited about them. For those keeping score at home, roasted pork + pate > pork belly alone.
We also got an order of the ginger peanut slaw to share. It was fine, though barely registered compared to pork buns and other porky goodness.
Next up: a walk through Thomas’ garden.
It’s a rare meal when, at the end, I’m excited to have only paid $100, tip included. It’s even more rare when I am anxious to return, and nearly do so the very next day.
Loria and I visited The Venetian resort in Las Vegas last year specifically to enjoy Bouchon Bakery, a small stand outside of the Phantom of the Opera Theatre. The first visit made such an impression that our final stop on the way out of the town consisted of my parking illegally in the hotel’s covered entrance, leaving her to watch after the car, sprinting to drop a silly amount of money, and then running back with two bags full of baked goods.
While the eponymous bouchon, a dense, rich chocolate brownie bite, the lemon and raspberry macaron, and the eclairs were each delicious, it was the ham and cheese sandwich that really surprised me. It takes something this simple and elegant to really make the point that Thomas Keller is a genius, and clearly knows how to coax maximum flavor out of each ingredient. On a not entirely unrelated note, we repeated the exercise this year, nearly doubling last year’s expenditure. The prices are, in some cases, double that of a regular bakery. Food with the precision and thought like that served in a Keller restaurant is worth every penny. Which is my way of saying, visit the bakery, go prepared to spend some cash, and don’t look back.
Having enjoyed the baked goods last year, we decided to make the actual restaurant the central dining experience of the trip. Good call.
If you’ve ever read a Thomas Keller recipe, you’ll know that “precision” isn’t finely detailed enough a word to describe the man’s work. When somebody suggests that I cut up a chocolate bar for use in a chocolate chip cookie, and then use a sieve on the pieces of chocolate to make sure that the smaller shards don’t end up melted into the dough and change the pale color, you know that you’re dealing with somebody who really cares about the smallest details of his food. It shows and I’m grateful.
Bouchon Bistro is a recreation of Keller’s casual eatery in Yountville, California. It serves French bistro food, dressed up for a night on the town. Or, in some cases, dressed down and simplified in very elegant and flavorful ways.
The staff was beyond friendly. Our waiter bantered wittily when appropriate, and gave us plenty of space when we needed it. I love a server who pays attention, and this guy was very much on his game. His description of the specials indicated clearly that he’d sampled each of them, which seems to be a dying tradition in restaurants. His first recommendation put us in a quandary: the night’s special appetizer sounded amazing, but I’ve read a bit about the pate and have my heart set on it. In an evening filled with great choices, we decide to do both.
It consisted of pork shoulder, cooked low and slow for the entire day, pressed into the shape of a long, thin candy bar. The pork presse was topped with an apricot preserve and a salad of marble-sized heirloom tomato halves. These parts of the dish alone would have been worth the money. The genius bit, though, was a sprinkling of dried garlic flowers, so pungent and flavorful, with a bit of creme fraiche to combat the acid of the tomatoes. I would love to know what, exactly, had been done to those small flowers to make them so filled with garlic flavor. Whether they were soaked or treated in some manner before drying, or they came from The French Laundry’s garden, they were the extra bit that put an already remarkable dish over the top.
As for the pate, I honestly don’t remember the details. It had some bacon around the outside. It made me feel very happy for the lucky pig that gave its life for the dish. I remember feeling like it would have been a serious mistake had we passed it up. I will not visit Bouchon again without getting the pate before my meal.
For our entrees, we choose the Kurobuta pork loin and the croque madame. The pork was served with a mustard water and creme fraiche on a small bed of wilted swiss chard and lightly heated peaches. I will admit that, though I do dearly love pork, I have only rarely had a pork loin that I was really excited about. Given how the appetizers went, I was fairly confident that Bouchon’s take on it stood a decent chance of turning that around for me and I wasn’t disappointed. It was weet, tender, and very delicate. The pairing of stone fruit with pork, a traditional favorite in late-summer, was a nice compliment. I certainly enjoyed it and might even order it again.
The croque madame was, however, all kinds of amazing.
This one was my wife’s choice, though we shared both entrees. Here is the menu description:
toasted ham & cheese sandwich on brioche,
fried egg & mornay sauce
served with French fries
Reading that, I was underwhelmed. I was wrong.
The visual impression the sandwich gives is monumental: a tall, sharply squared block of what appears to be very crisp bread with a bit of ham visible from the outside, topped with a round and very flat egg, and a mountain of frites on the side. Cutting into it revealed the reality to be a bit different: the bread was ethereal and nearly disappeared under my knife. The egg, it turned out, was fried just to the point where the white appeared to be solid. It was not. Both it and the yolk ran immediately and coated the exposed bits of the sandwich, and the fries. The combination was a perfect bite of light, airy bread, a bit of protein, and runny sauce from the egg and mornay.
Eventually the server came over with a small container of house made ketchup for the frites. It was a nice touch, but it’s going to be hard from here on out to eat frites without lightly fried egg coating them, no matter how well they are cooked.
We skipped dessert in favor of another trip to the bakery. Our server’s recommendation turned out to be another favorite – half a croissant, smeared with raspberry preserves, topped with a brown sugar and butter crumb and baked. I wish this read more like a critique and that I had some suggestion for the restaurant. My only real complaint is that, since Keller seems willing to recreate the bistro and bakery pair, that there isn’t one closer to home. Maybe someday.