Archive for the ‘Pop-Up’ Category

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Earlier this year Chef Andrew Le, founding father of The Pig & The Lady, left Hawaii in search of a new venture (made me sad). Andrew landed in San Francisco at the Rich Table (of Evan and Sarah Rich), a restaurant with honest, well-sourced fresh food without the pretense of a fancy-schmancy restaurant. Perfect.

November 2012: Just as we were accepting the fact that Chef Andrew had turned a new chapter in his culinary career, murmurs spread through the community that he would be coming back to Hawaii.

Sure enough, Chef Andrew is back! (On loan). For only seven nights, The Pig and The Lady will be bringing their ever-popular pop-up back to Honolulu! This pop-up meal was fantastic and well worth the $65 price tag. Be sure to BYOB (coming from work, I was, unfortunately, a slacker) and BYOF (bring your own foodies). I met up with Laurie Oue (@konaish) and Mari Taketa (@nonstopmari) who graciously brought sake! Bringing your own foodies is the most important tip here; they will make the night memorable, entertaining, educational, and most of all, fun! I can never go a meal in the presence of Laurie and Mari without learning something new.

The menu for this Pop-Up was very much unlike all previous The Pig and The Lady Pop-Ups. Usually starring a different noodle soup main course, this menu was pretty much without the quintessential Vietnamese dishes and flavors The Pig and The Lady is known for. Audacious. The newly minted Chef Andrew would be bringing out the big guns with the knowledge and inspiration soaked up in San Fran.

Course One: Pa’i’ai (beaten taro), spicy chili pepper inamona, grapes three ways (pickled, oven-dried, pureed), celery shavings, celery shoots.

Starting with such an audacious dish was a sign for dishes to come. I always thought of Pa’i’ai as a bland, tasteless paste/brick. This dish brought new meaning to Pa’i’ai that didn’t remind me of Elmers glue or rubber cement. Though barely fussed with, the Pa’i’ai paired well with the spiciness of the inamona dusted with chili pepper, delicately interacted with the grapes three ways- one pickled (sour), one oven-roasted, and one pureed (sweet), and finally offset the bitterness of the celery shavings and celery shoots. Lots going on here. Different taste centers dancing from one to another in perfect balance.

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Course Two: Scallops, tangerine ice, carbonated tangerine segments, dehydrated Sriracha crisps, cilantro, garlic chive, sesame. Served cold, this dish was a great surprise in taste and texture. The saltiness of the scallop is mellowed by being marinated in sesame oil, The citrus of the tangerine segments are enhanced with the carbonation, the creation of tangerine ice brings out a nice tart citrusy flavor, and the dehydrated Sriracha gives it a nice kick. The garlic chive and cilantro give the entire dish an herby, floral note to bring some balance to the strong flavor of the scallop and tangerine. This dish in one word, unexpected.

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Course Three: Tagliatelle, tossed in light chicken jus, topped with shaved 5 day cured egg, douglas fir needles, and crispy fried chicken skin. Yes, you read that correct. There was Christmas tree in this dish. Much like rosemary is used as an aromatic AND a perfuming flavor, douglas fir is used in this chicken application. Beautifully executed, the douglas fir was subtle enough to enhance the natural chicken flavors, the focal point of this dish. The tender chicken in the delicate tagliatelle really showcased a careful and precise execution of basic, but vital techniques. The shaved cured egg was a great touch adding a mellowed yolk flavor and balancing the saltiness of the crispy fried chicken skin. Genius!

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Course Four: Fresh Akule, butter braised leeks, diced korean pear with kaffir lime, and pomegranate vinaigrette. This dish was pure nostalgia for me. The smell of the Akule brought me back to my childhood. I used to go out with Uncle Peter and Michael and fish. We would clean and hibachi Akule releasing an unmistakable aroma. A naturally fishy tasting fish, the Akule was balanced with the rich, fattiness of the butter braised leeks, the sweetness of the korean pear and kaffir lime, and the sweet and sour of the pomegranate vinaigrette. This dish was especially fragrant and captured bold flavors and balanced them all on one plate. Plus it showcased fish with fruit, two kinds of fruit. Daring.

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Course Five: Brown butter cornbread, pumpkin gelato, ground espresso, yogurt, pea shoots, caramel. Chef Andrew’s play on peas and corn. A quite diabolical play on the age-old pairing, I might add. There was green stuff in my dessert (pea shoots). Who does that? Playful, decadent, great presentation.

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Great company, great sake, great food! Bravo, Andrew! Best of luck!

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