Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Momofuku Daishō: Creative Asian Fusion Cuisine

Chef David Chang's Momofuku empire has been taking the food world by storm ever since he opened his first restaurant in New York in 2004. Located on the third floor of the spectacular Momofuku glass cube complex adjacent to the luxury Shangri-La Hotel, Daishō specializes in shared plates and large format family-style feasts. Of all Chang's Momofuku Toronto concepts — which now include Noodle Bar, Nikai and Shōtō — Daishō has the most extensive menu which changes often, based on market availability and inspired by the diversity of Ontario's native ingredients and relationships with local vendors and suppliers, showcasing the best of Canadian farms from the east to west coast. Sleek and minimalist, with blond wood tables and completely encased in glass, the room’s vaulted ceiling is dominated by a grand finned structure made of white oak — suggestive of giant ramen noodles — not only brings warmth to the minimalistic space but serves as an elegant beacon along Toronto's University Avenue.

Seated at one of the smaller tables along the soaring 3-storey bank of windows overlooking University Avenue, we began with cocktails: a Vesper Martini and 'Surprise Me', which changes each night but this evening was made with orange syrup, Campari and Tio Pepe sherry, along with a complimentary plate of crunchy pickled cucumbers. We began with buttery Buttermilk Biscuits served with black pepper butter and a spicy chili honey, followed by Daishō's Soy Tea Egg with kimchi mayonnaise, furikake and chopped scallion, and BBQ Chicken Buns with mayonnaise and sweet pickle. New on the menu was the Agnolotti with asparagus, sheep’s milk ricotta and black truffle and Pea Shoots and Snap Peas with xo sauce. As an entrée we shared one of David Chang's signature dishes, Hanger Steak Ssäm served with kimchi, ginger spring onion sauce and Bibb lettuce — you can now buy Momofuku Ssäm sauce online! With its fabulous views, soft lighting, friendly professional service, creative wine and dinner menu, Daishō continues to be one of the most elegant, hip and enjoyable dining experiences in the city.

Daisho menu

The 'Vesper', made with gin, cocchi, vodka and peel of lemon 

Daisho 'Surprise Me!" made with orange syrup, Campari and Tio Pepe sherry

Daisho pickles

Buttermilk Biscuits served with black pepper butter and chili honey

Soy tea egg with kimchi mayonnaise, furikake and chopped scallion

BBQ Chicken Buns with mayonnaise and sweet pickle

Agnolotti with asparagus, sheep’s milk ricotta and black truffle

Hanger Steak Ssäm from McGee Farms in Ontario served with kimchi, 
ginger spring onion sauce and Bibb lettuce

A slice of steak with dollop of kimchi and ginger spring onion sauce are rolled up in Bibb lettuce and rolled up like a spingroll and enjoyed

Pea shoots and snap peas with xo sauce

Spicy Brussels Sprouts with Mint
Serves 4-6
Recipe courtesy of David Chang; photo © Gabriele Stabile

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 skillet, 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 skillet. 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 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet and heat until nearly smoking. Add the brussels sprouts; 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.

Hanger Steak Ssäm
Serves 6
Recipe and photo courtesy of David Chang

Hanger steak marinade:
2 cups apple juice 
1/2 cup light soy sauce
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced 
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced 
1 tsp Asian sesame oil 
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper 
4 hanger steaks, about 8 oz each 

Ginger spring onion sauce: makes 3 cups
2 1/2 cups thinly sliced scallions, greens and whites
1/2 cup finely minced peeled fresh ginger
1/4 cup grapeseed or vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp light soy sauce
3/4 tsp sherry vinegar
3/4 tsp kosher salt, or more to taste

1 cup Napa cabbage kimchi, puréed 
1 cup ginger spring onion sauce 
2 cup short-grain rice, well-rinsed and cooked 
2-3 heads Bibb lettuce, leaves separated, well washed, and spun dry 
Maldon salt, for garnish

To make the steak marinade, combine the apple juice, soy, onion, garlic, sesame oil and pepper in a large freezer bag, or another container that will snugly accommodate the steaks and marinade, and seal and shake, or stir or whisk to combine. Add the steaks, seal or cover tightly, and marinate in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

For the ginger onion sauce, mix together the scallions, ginger, oil, soy, vinegar, and salt in a bowl. Taste and check for salt, adding more if needed. Although it's best after 15 or 20 minutes of sitting, ginger scallion sauce is good from the minute it's stirred together up to a day or two in the fridge. 

Preheat an outdoor grill to high. Remove the steaks from the marinade, and discard the marinade. Grill for 6-10 minutes total for medium-rare, taking care to first char the two flattest sides of the steaks, which should take about 2 minutes per side. Monitor the doneness closely after that – depending on how hot your fire is, they could be cooked in 6-8 minutes. When they’re ready, remove the steaks to a platter and let them rest for at least 5 minutes. More resting time won’t hurt: you can’t over-rest steak.

When ready to serve – sauces are made, lettuce is washed, etc – cut the steaks into 2-inch-thick slices, cutting on a slight bias, and serve flanked by the accompaniments.