Thursday, April 29, 2010

Cobaya in the Night @ Sakaya Kitchen

It was Cobaya at first bite....

I enjoyed Chef Hales pork buns so much during my first visit that I sent him a DM via twitter that night to see if he would be interested in participating in a Cobaya dinner. I knew after my first visit that his creative and flavorful  food would be perfect for our concept.  I also thought that Sakaya would be perfect for our first late night venture.

Chef Hales thanked me for thinking of him and said he would love to participate.  I ran the late night Sakaya-Cobaya idea by my co-conspirators and they thought it was a great idea too.  Frodnesor took the ball and ran with it, scoring another impressive touchdown.

In the interim, Chef Hales launched Dim Ssam Sundays at the restaurant.  After posting the first menu, I sent him a brief message jokingly advising  him to save some for Cobaya!!!  He assured me that he had more tricks up his sleeve.

I may have been joking but he wasn't kidding...

Cobaya in the Night @ Sakaya sold out within an hour of the initial email which simply stated
"Cobaya on 4/24 at midnight $55.00"
 ChowP is still amazed that I'm not the only insane food lover out there.. Hey, I could be looking at buns over at Tootsie's at midnight, right? Just sayin...

Anyway, an adventurous group of 40 met at Sakaya Kitchen at midnight on April 24(ok it was technically the 25th)  There were many new faces in the crowd and I unfortunately didn't get the opportunity to meet everyone.  Once we were all seated, the dishes started to fly out of the kitchen.

First up were two dishes from his daily menu, Papa's Shrimp & Pork Filipino Egg Rolls and his famous Pork Buns.  Chef Hales advised us  that Papa was actually his Filipino grandmother and this was her recipe. Papa's egg rolls were served with Fuji vinegar but I didn't have a chance to open the container thanks to the tasty combination of the pork and shrimp filling.

You can usually find Chef Hales' pork buns on the daily menu and they are a favorite of mine.  His version features house cured & roasted Boston butt with house pickles, ssamjang sweet chili and a great steamed bun.  The pork was tender and tasty, the sauce had a nice flavorful kick to it and the pickles and bun were a perfect compliment.  I love these buns!!

Next up were some of his new tricks for Cobaya.  He started with Galrlic'd Laughing Bird Shrimp served with chive flower soba noodles.  The sweet shrimp and garlic noodles were a nice change of pace.  Not my favorite dish of the night but it was enjoyable.

The shrimp was followed by a Bucket of Korean Sweetbreads & Spicy Frog Legs.  I loved everything about this dish.  It was creative, featured items you don't see often on menus in the area and was packed with flavor.  The sweetbreads were seasoned and  fried perfectly without sacrificing any of the soft and delicious sweetbreads inside.  The frog legs were meaty and seasoned with a nice spicy punch. 

It was getting late and  I noticed a couple of yawns in the crowd but this was no time to sleep, pork belly was on the horizon...  but first was "Chim Quay" quail with pig skin "tsitsaron" and Chinese broccoli.  This dish was very enjoyable.  The roasted quail was moist and flavored with a nice soy marinade.  I also enjoyed the contrasting bitterness of the broccoli.  I must admit that it was very difficult to cut Chinese broccoli at 1:55 in the morning with chopsticks....

As many of you know, I am a huge fan of pork belly and I was very excited when I saw it on the menu.  Chef Hales' Cobaya pork belly was served with a Vietnamese caramel sauce, ("Nuoc Mau") roasted baby carrots, crispy bone marrow and coconut rice.  This was awesome. I'm not a huge fan of sweet food but I really enjoyed the coconut rice.  I thought it paired perfectly with the pork belly and crispy bone marrow.  The only con was that I only received one small burnt carrot..

I'm not a dessert fan and rarely order it but Chef Hales served my kind of dessert, a blue point oyster pajeon. This was a perfect ending to a great meal.  Since Chow P  was a sport and stayed home with the chowbabes, I reluctantly gave her Wife Hales' Chocolate Chocolate Cookie bag.  Not sure that was a great move because she quickly realized what she missed out on....

Chef Hales and crew did a tremendous job of presenting creative and great tasting treats at a late hour.  It was a great group and a lot of fun.  I look forward to seeing everyone at future Cobaya's.  If you haven't been to one yet I would encourage you to join our google group (Cobaya) and watch your inbox for our next invite.  These are selling out fast and the next one should be awesome.

Sakaya Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Sakaya Kitchen
Buena Vista Avenue between 34th & 36th Streets
Miami, FL 33127

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

3 Course Chef's Market Menu $49 @ Bourbon Steak

One of the best restaurants in South Florida is introducing a three course menu for $49.00.  It starts May 1 and lasts until Miami Spice.  This is a good opportunity to sample the work of talented Chef Gabriel Fenton at a reduced price and sample some new dishes. Save room for a bourbon and burger in the lounge...
** menu updated

Chef’s Market Menu
Menu is Subject to Change

Choice of the following: 

Spring Asparagus Soup
Poached Farm Egg, Meyer Lemon, Crispy Prosciutto 

Fresh Market Sashimi of the Day 
Spicy Thai Green Papaya Salad

Fettuccini Carbonara
Spring English Peas, Bacon, Parmesan Reggiano

Organic Mixed Greens
Baby Beets, Humboldt Fog, Tangerines, Pistachios 

Choice of the following: 

Glazed Beef Short Rib
Celery Root Purée, Baby Vegetables, Sauce Perigourdine 

Alaskan Halibut 

Fava Bean Purée, Sautéed Pea Tendrils, Sweet Corn

Grilled Chicken Breast
Watercress Salad, Leg Confit, Sherry Vinaigrette

Grilled Lamb Loin

Fresh Garbanzo Beans, Piquillo Romesco, Crispy Panisse

(10 Supplement for this entrée)

Choice of the following: 

Milk Chocolate Panna Cotta
Berry Salad, Pistachio Biscotti 

Carrot Cake Bread Pudding
Toasted Pecan Anglaise, Cream Cheese Ice Cream 

Selection of Daily House Made Ice Creams & Sorbets

49 per person
Exclusive of tax and gratuity
19999 West Country Club Drive
Aventura, FL 33180-2401
(786) 279-6600


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Boston Oyster Party

I probably should have titled this post the "Boston Massacre" because that is exactly what transpired during my brief 30 hour stay in the beloved Beantown.  Unfortunately, I didn't have more time than that but I was able to spend it with two of my closest friends.

EG Bourdain (Anthony's clone) met me at the Liberty Hotel in Beacon Hill at 1:30 p.m. and we immediately went to the North End (Little Italy) and Neptune Oyster Bar.  Neptune is small and doesn't accept reservations so I knew there was a chance we would have a long wait.

Upon arrival, there were a bunch of people waiting at the door.  The 18 counter/bar seats were filled as were the 20 or so banquette/table seats.  The wait enabled  EG Bourdain to attempt to cash in the handful of  scratch off lottery ticket winners he arrived with. That's a story for another is the fact that the merchants in the North End evidently don't like to cash in the tickets.  EGB was glad to be able to walk back to Neptune and we will leave it at that.

We ended up getting a seat at the bar after about a half an hour.  We immediately scanned the 10 or so oyster options that were written on a mirror behind the bar.  We ordered oysters from Bluepoint, CT, Wellfleet, MA, Fanny Bay BC and Ninigret, RI.  They varied in size and saltiness but were all extremely fresh and great tasting. We could have easily knocked off several dozen but needed to save some room.

We followed the oysters up with was clam chowder and shrimp cocktail.  The clams were very good but the broth didn't knock my socks off.  The shrimp were huge, fresh and winners. 

The next two dishes were absolute knockouts. First up, "Neptunes on Piggyback"  You guessed it, crispy oysters served on Berkshire pulled pork and brioche.  WOW!!  The pork was tender and flavorful and the oysters were plump with a nice, crisp fry.

At this point I was very happy but started to get concerned because I was starting to feel full (the beers we were pounding didn't help) and hadn't even tried the lobster roll.  Not to mention the fact that we had to be at a Steakhouse for dinner in 2.5 hours...

Neptune serves two versions of lobster rolls.  One is traditional (cold and with mayo) and the other is warm with butter.  Of course we ordered one of each and shared them.  Both rolls were large and featured very generous chunks of succulent sweet lobster.  These were so delicious that EGB devoured his in less than a minute.  No lie.  Our waitress/bartender was amazed and said that was easily a record. I enjoyed both rolls but everything about the warm one was awesome.  I could eat that one every day, all day. 

It should be noted that since EGB finished his rolls a good ten minutes before me he felt the need to order a lobster cocktail.  This was another generous portion of large chunks of lobster.  It was totally unnecessary and gifted to the diner next to us after a few delicious bites.

Neptune Oyster Bar is a fun place to grab great oysters, an amazing lobster roll and don't forget those piggybacks.  I highly recommend it.

Neptune Oyster on Urbanspoon 

 boston mag


Unfortunately, EGB had to catch an early flight home the next morning so I was on my own for lunch.  Pizzeria Regina was almost the call but I don't get to Boston often so I wanted more oysters and lobster.  I considered making a return visit to Neptune but B&G Oyster sounded too good to pass up. 

B&G is similar in size to Neptune and has similar bar/counter seating.  It's more stylish than Neptune and features an open kitchen area.  I was fortunate to grab a seat near the chef and was able to watch him work.

I started with a half dozen oysters served with prosecco mignonette. I went with Island Creek, MA, Taylor Bay, MA. and Marionport's, MA.  These were so great that I quickly ordered another half dozen adding Umami's, RI to the mix and more Island Creek's.  The Island Creeks were my weekend favorites.

Everything that the chef was preparing looked great and made my next selection very difficult.  That said, I was craving another lobster roll.  B&G's  version was a gourmet twist on the traditional lobster roll.  It was on the small side but featured nice pieces of  lobster with a very minimal amount of mayo on a nicely toasted bun.  The fries were killer and the pickles and slaw were a perfect compliment.

At this point I was happy and full but wasn't comfortable leaving  Beantown without having some fried clams. I really needed EGB because the menu only had an entree size portion with fries. No way could I handle that.  I asked my waiter if I could have a small portion of fried clams for "dessert" and he smiled, almost laughed  and happily obliged.  Five minutes later out came perfectly crisp clam bellies.  My kind of dessert... and my kind of place.

Both restaurants were outstanding in every way (service included) and I would highly recommend visiting both.  I'd probably give a slight nod to the oysters at B&G and I would love to return to B&G to try some of their entrees.

Of the 3 lobster rolls I had  in 24 hours, I'd rank the warm roll at Neptune #1 followed by B&G's and then the cold one at Neptune's.

B & G Oysters on Urbanspoon

boston mag

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Free Sake Tasting @ Hollywood Vine 4/9

6:00-9:00 pm
No charge for tastings

Long one of the most prominent breweries in the Niigata region, Ichishima Shuzo has been owned and operatedby the Ichishima family since its founding in 1790. Silk in a bottle, this sake is light and energetic. Its mild sweetness is well-integrated with good acidity. Refreshing notes of honeydew melon and cucumber
BTG $ 8.00 2oz                                  Retail $27.99 500 ml

DEWATSURU “KIMOTO” JUNMAI, AKITA SEISHU A great, full-bodied sake that reveals mellow taste and character. The higher acidity resulting from the time and labor-intensive kimoto brewing method. BTG $ 6.75 2oz                                  Retail $ 31.99 720 ml

This delightfully refined honjozo is rich and dry, with complex notes of spices and nuts. Just a hint a sea breeze causes this classic example of the Niigata Style
BTG $ 6.50 2oz                                  Retail $30.99 720 ml

Founded in 1874, by Eikichi Ohi, Tenju Shuzu is a tightly knit, family-owned brewery enjoying its sixth generation of sake production. Tenju (which means to last 100 years) brewery is located in Yashima village near the beautiful Mount Chokai, in Akita.
From the first sip this is the one that makes you fall in love with Japanese premium sake!
Chokaisan Junmai DaiGinjō is matchless in its balance. Its floral nose hints of pear. Its palate is so refined that it makes a delightful aperitif or a wonderful accompaniment throughout your meal
Retail $54.99 720ml

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Chowfather Medium Rare

In case you missed it... I was recently "grilled" by South Florida Food and Wine Blog.  You can catch the full interview here  Chowfather Grilled  and don't forget to read the very informative blog on a daily basis here South Florida Food and Wine Blog