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Bulking Up

Monday 4 June 2012

It’s been…wow, it’s been a long time since I posted anything related to The Omnivore, my year-long self-imposed challenge to Eat Different. I’m going to try to catch-up, in one posting. Just try to keep up…if it seems like I’m forgetting things, well, I probably have.

Taroko:

Vegetable Tempura:

It’s a vegetarian alien! (But aren’t all vegetarians a little alien?) Here’s a nicely arranged grouping of various veg, in Taroko’s really good tempura batter. It’s not the giant mound of tempura that some places do, but presentation and quality are more than enough to satisfy.

 

Taroko Chicken:

Oh my, this is the stuff. It looks like it’s going to be a chicken-in-oyster sauce, but everything is slow cooked (I think) or otherwise reduced so that it is incredibly rich and savory, well beyond what one would expect to find in a more typical chicken-in-brown-sauce dish. Highly recommended. Get extra rice for the sauce.

 

Singaporean Rice Noodles:

Singapore is well-known for its unassuming but surprising dishes. Hainanese Chicken Rice is one of those–who (of Western birth and upbringing) would expect that poached chicken could be so flavorful?

It’s like that with this rice noodle dish. It looks meek and mild, but it’s got that curry background that moves it into a different weight class. I loved the way that the scallions remained distinct in flavor from the rest of the dish. I’ve had it a couple of times since, and the curry taste has been a bit weaker; Highly recommended, but ask for “strong on the curry” if you want the less meek version.

 

Sashimi Salad:

I like sashimi, and I like the concept of a sashimi salad. This one has a nice mix of seasonal greens and a variety of fresh fish. The one dig I have against it is that the rather fruity dressing is applied to the dish after it’s all plated, so that the dressing tends to overwhelm the taste of the fish. I would prefer that they toss and dress the greens first, plate them, then add the fish.

 

Kimchi Burrito:

Now, we had this while the dish was still in a “soft opening” mode, so it may well have changed since.

“Kimchi” is probably somewhat of a misnomer; there was some kimchi, but it was mostly milder flavors. “Burrito” is about right; I’d call each piece about five or six inches long; we wound up cutting them into thirds. Really good, especially with the plum sauce.

See, this is why I need to do this more often, if only to remind me of what I really enjoyed and want again. This is one of those.

 

J-Pops:

Not so much an Asian dish, but so good I’ll give them a pass on authenticity. Jalapeno peppers stuffed with crab (maybe Krab) and crawfish, tempura’d, and served with their plum and chili sauces. Oh so good. I would eat it more often, but even my marginal sense of healthy eating causes me to limit my intake. Still, highly recommended.

 

Fusion Roll:

It’s like a regular crab maki underwent cold fusion and exploded on the plate. Not just crab, but eel, tuna, white tuna, snow crab, hamachi, and ebi in one roll, like a nautical futomaki, then lightly fried and dressed with plum and chili sauces. You’ll want to share this, but you won’t want to share it, too! But eat it while it’s warm, as it doesn’t work as well when cooled.

 

Crunchy Roll; Rainbow Roll:

If there were one ingredient I’d add to more sushi bars repertoires, it would be the use of tempura flakes on just about everything. They add just a tiny bit of fat (and fat means better transmission of taste to the taste buds), but also a nice crunch that gives a tactile umami to just about any maki.

The Crunchy Roll comes in two variants, a hand roll and a maki. I like both, and the maki shares better (well, I guess that depends on who one is dining with), but the hand roll has a better proportion of crunchiness to…everything else. If I’m in the mood to share, the maki version is just fine, but when I want to maximize crunchiness, the hand roll is where I go.

The Rainbow Roll is one of those “everything” rolls–a little bit of a bunch of different kinds of fish, served in a way that lets the fish speak for themselves. If you want fresh, clean fish taste but don’t want to have to order a bunch of nigiri, this is a good way to go.

 

Crunchy Hand Roll:

You see why I like this? It’s like a tempura flake and crab ice cream cone, a solid base of crab and avocado with enough tempura flake to give exceptionally good mouth-feel. Highly recommended.

 

California Roll:

The California Roll is like the comfort food of American-style sushi–a simple maki of crab (or Krab), avocado, and cucumber. A little fish, a little crunch, a little squish. A little dusting of sesame seeds, or order it the way we prefer, with a dusting of tobiko.

 

Beef Pho:

Pho, pronounced…well, it’s hard to demonstrate, but it does not rhyme with “foe”…is a classic Vietnamese dish. I’m going to class this version in with the less fancy versions, typical of what one would find in a Bay Area pho shop like Pho Queen. It’s that basic broth and meat, with the sides of mint leaves, sliced peppers, limes, and bean sprouts, and plum and hot sauces for dipping. I’d like more bean sprouts to help fill out the dish, but I could see coming in on a cold day or bringing folks from the Bay Area here for a pho fix.

 

Larks:

Shrimp Salad Special:

Despite the tomatoes being way out of season, this was a pretty good salad special. Basic, grilled shrimp on a bed of mixed greens with a mild goat cheese and walnuts. Larks’ salad specials are pretty reliably good; this is right in their reliable range.

 

Grilled Chicken Salad Special:

So, you’re going to be seeing a lot of salad specials from me. I’m still trying for the once-a-week achievement for Larks, which is tricky because they have a fairly short menu, and their salads are very good, allowing me to make up for Evilness (fat/calories/etc.) consumed elsewhere.

This was no exception: baby spinach, sliced grilled chicken, some goat cheese, cucumber, and a little slightly sweet vinaigrette (a little strawberry in the dressing). Nothing outrageous, just a good salad to get one back to work after.

 

BBQ Chicken Salad:

Here’s one of the oddnesses (or not) for Larks: they like to use seasonal greens, so the BBQ Chicken Salad, which is one of the heavier salads that Larks offers, is a summer dish. I mean, the BBQ part makes sense, but I general like a lighter salad in the summer. But the greens and tomatoes for this dish are really summer produce, and the greens for the Asian chicken salad are almost all winter greens, so there you are.

The salad: a really substantial salad of BBQ (Northern) chicken, summer greens, tomatoes, and fried tortilla strips. Corn, too, in season. The BBQ sauce is quite mild, nothing like what Larks used to put on their shrimp, so fear not the bite of the habanero. Plan to take some home for later, or bring a big appetite.

 

That’s a chunk off my backlog, yeah! More to follow. Get out there and eat!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Thursday 9 August 2012 1:21 AM

    Wah, the food looks amazing! My favorite has to be the J-Pops; they are mouth-watering!

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