Friday, April 17, 2015

Chef Erik Bruner-Yang of Toki Underground and the brand new Maketto makes merry at Food & Friends patron dinner (4-16-15)

Every year we attend a wonderful dinner at the Food &Friends Facility here in Washington which is for major donors, and it always proves to be a very fun evening.
This year it was DC's youngest super-chef Erik Bruner-Yang who has blown DC away with his ramen restaurant Toki Underground ( H St, NE). Last week he opened Maketto which serves
breakfast, lunch and dinner while you shop for clothes; it's a novel take on dining & shopping and might be worth a stop-in to see. Chef Bruner-Yang still came last night, although he departed a bit early after taking questions and walking around the room to greet the diners; he had lots of work to do in his 6-day old restaurant/store.
We chose this night as we wanted to see what he could do outside of the ramen realm, and he explained that the cuisine last night was indeed Cambodian-influenced as his wife is Cambodian and this will also be one of the styles of cooking at Maketto.
On arrival we tasted an awesome Cambodian Sausage in a Cabbage wrap which he later explained was fermented in rice giving it a slightly sour yet spicy tang which made me go for seconds. As Chef Bruner-Yang is from Taiwan, Chinese buns feature largely in his cuisine and we had Leek Buns with a tangy Hoisin sauce as one of our hor's d'oevres. Only the Scallion "Pancake" was a bit boring and because it just needed more flavor. It was not really a pancake but a phyllo-dough pastry like Spinakopita which was buttery, flaky and delicious, but only one bite had enough scallion for me.

The first course was a tasty Red Snapper Crudo(Ph'Lee Uh Sach Trey) with Watermelon Radish, Coconut and a Salt Cured Egg which was quite novel and a bit spongy. Chef later explained it is salt cured for three weeks in tamarind & lime like salmon hence the name 1000-year old egg in China. The Domaine des Cassagnoles Gros Manseng 2013 was the perfect foil to the complex flavors in the dish.
A beautiful, if simple, Khmer Tamarind Salad (Nyoam Teuk Amp-uhl)of greens including lettuce, pea shoots and "Phil's" carrots was next with a tasty tamarind dressing. I loved the in-bloom watercress flowers that were quite large and yellow atop the salad as these were tasty and not bitter as some edible flowers can be. Domaine les Fouques Cotes de Provence Cuvee de l'Aubigue Rose 2013 was a superb crisp wine and ideal for any dressed salad.

American Wagyu (Bao Gua Bao) was our main course and again with beautiful steamed rice buns (which we were told are gluten free) and more of that yummy Hoisin. We made our own bao sandwiches with the lean meat and accompanying pickled veggies. A Marc Kreydenwiess Costieres-de-Nimes Perrieres 2010 was aged enough for sure, but didn't have enough punch in it's light red mix to work well with the intense flavors of the meat, pickles and hoisin.....

Dessert was Banana Cream Pie and I would call it RE-constructed (no deconstructed) with Struesel, Caramel, Pastry Cream and Coconut. Not one plate had a bite left on the table.