Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Shōtō at Momofuku: The Culinary Crown Jewel

Acclaimed by many to be the best restaurant in Toronto, Shōtō is private culinary theatre at its best. Sharing the third floor with Daishō on the third floor of the lofty Momofuku complex, Shōtō's gleaming black granite bar with just 22 prized seats encircles an open central kitchen, where diners are treated to Toronto's ultimate tasting menu of artfully conceived dishes with elegant ingredients and sublime flavours. Centre-stage are chef de cuisine Mitchell Bates, sous chef Peter Jensen who personally serve their small audience a $150 10-course tasting menu Tuesday to Saturday, as well as a new $95 multi-course dinner comprised of 5-6 courses including both individually plated and sharing dishes. Sommelier and master of ceremonies is the cheerful and chatty Chris Wickens, who guides diners through the wine pairings and along with the chefs, explains each and every dish. Warm, relaxed and extraordinarily delicious, Shōtō is indeed the culinary jewel in Momofuku's ample crown. Absolutely superb.

A wine or champagne cork provides a whimsical rest for the chopsticks, but also let's the chefs know which tasting menu each diner has selected: the 10 or 5-course gastronomic adventure

First to arrive was a crisp, buttery and moist Manitoba Roll, hot out of the oven

A 'Bijou' Cocktail with Gin, Aperol and Champagne

Champagne and Charteuse

A New Brunswick Beausoleil oyster with jolt of hot sauce

Lightly charred Sticky Rice with smokey XO sauce on top

The first "wine" pairing was a local artisanal Toronto Cider

Light and sparking, the cider is crafted from 100% fresh pressed juice from Ontario Heritage apples

Rich and velvety Corn and Coconut Soup with Chicken

The next pairing was a 2012 Breggo Vineyard Pinot Gris from Anderson Valley, Califormia

Anderson Valley Pinot Gris are rich with notes of grapefruit, Bartlett Pear, Freesia and melon

Arctic Char Sashimi with Smoked Roe and Creme Fraiche

A Spanish Novellum Crianza Tempranillo was paired with the pasta dish

A full bodied wine with ripe fruit, plenty of structure and perfect with meat and vintage cheese dishes, which was exactly what the next course was 

Hand rolled pasta with chef smoked turkey sausage and shaved white truffle

2012 Chateau Maris Minervois from Languedoc Roussillon, France

A superb wine with a velvety elegance and peppery finish, just lovely with the Beef Cheek

Beef Cheek cooked sous-vide for 36 hours and glazed with braised reduction, served with brussels sprout leaves and sour cream

Graham Cracker & Chocolate Steamed Cake with Mango Sorbet

The fifth and final pairing was a Tawse Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine

Sweet and full flavoured, the ice wine had hints of strawberry and cherry accents

Aebleskiver "Dutch Donuts" with Spiced Apple, Granola and Oat Sorbet

Soft-Cooked Eggs with Onion Soubise, Caviar & Potato Chips
Serves 8 as appetizer
Recipe courtesy Momofuku

Onion Soubise:
12 medium onions, halved and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tsp coarse kosher salt

Smoked Eggs:
8 large eggs
3 cups water
1/8 tsp liquid smoke

Chips and Salad:
4 fingerling potatoes, scrubbed
Grapeseed oil, for frying
Coarse kosher salt
1/2 cup mixed herb leaves, such as chervil, tarragon, parsley & chives
2 oz black Caviar, domestic or imported 
1 tbsp Smoked Maldon sea salt
4 tsp Sherry wine vinegar

For the Onion Soubise: Place all ingredients for the onion soubise in small saucepan. Simmer uncovered over the lowest possible heat until the onions are very tender, and the butter and water are reduced to silky sauce, stirring often, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. This can be made 2 days ahead. Cool, cover, and chill. Rewarm before serving.

For the Smoked Eggs: Bring large saucepan of water to boil over high heat. Add the eggs to the water gently to prevent cracking and cook for 5 minutes. Transfer the eggs to large bowl of ice water, and when cool enough to handle, crack the eggs gently all over on flat surface. Return to ice water and peel carefully. Do not break eggs — yolks will be runny. Mix 3 cups water and 1/8 teaspoon of liquid smoke in large saucepan. Add the peeled eggs to water, cover and chill overnight.

For the Chips & Salad: Using a mandoline, thinly slice the potatoes crosswise and rinse in small bowl of water. Drain and rinse again until the water runs clear. Drain well, then place on kitchen towel and pat dry. Pour enough oil into large deep saucepan to measure depth of 1-inch. Attach a deep-fry thermometer to side of pan and heat the oil to 360°F. Working in 3 batches, fry the potatoes until they're beginning to brown and crisp, stirring frequently to prevent the slices from sticking together, about 1 minute per batch. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet, and sprinkle with coarse salt. Allow to cool then transfer to clean paper towels.

Using a slotted spoon, gently transfer eggs to a medium bowl. Bring the smoked water to gentle simmer over medium heat. Carefully slide the eggs from the bowl into the water, and cook until heated through, about 4 minutes. Rewarm the onion soubise, and mix the herbs together in a small bowl.

To plate this dish, spoon 2 generous tablespoons of soubise onto each plate, using the back of a spoon to create small indentation for the egg. Divide the potato chips among each of the plates in a small mound alongside the soubise. Spoon a small pile of herb salad alongside the chips and soubise. Place 1 egg on top of the soubise on each plate. Using a small sharp knife, cut a 1-inch-long slit in each egg so the yolk spills out, and spoon a small dollop of caviar inside the opening, dividing equally. Sprinkle the eggs with a small pinch smoked salt, and drizzle with 1/2 teaspoon of the Sherry wine vinegar alongside the soubise on each plate. Serve and enjoy!

Spicy Brussels Sprouts with Mint
Serves 4-6
Recipe courtesy Momofuku

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup Rice Krispies or other puffed rice cereal
1/4 tsp togarashi 
Kosher salt
1/4 cup Asian fish sauce
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 small red chile, minced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 tbsp chopped mint
4 cups roasted or boiled brussels sprouts, halved lengthwise

In a large frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil until shimmering. Add the Rice Krispies and togarashi and cook over high heat, stirring, until browned, about 30 seconds. Season with salt. Transfer to a plate and wipe out the pan. 

In a small bowl, combine the fish sauce, water, sugar, rice vinegar, lime juice, garlic and chile and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the cilantro and mint. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the frying pan and heat until nearly smoking. Add the brussels sprouts, and cook over high heat, stirring, until charred in spots and heated through, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and toss with the vinaigrette. Just before serving, sprinkle the Rice Krispies on top and serve right away.