HakkaChow for the Win

I talked about this in this week’s The Man Who Ate the Town Podcast.

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Egg Rolls

Stephanie, along with 5 other friends and myself went out on Saturday to celebrate my birthday. The restaurant that I chose was HakkaChow. I had eaten there a few times but, I’ll admit, it’s not in my area of frequency, meaning I don’t get over that way often. I had done an interview with Jonathan Chung, owner, sous chef and business developer of HakkaChow. To be sure, this is Asian. But, don’t jump into the cliché of calling this Asian Fusion. I think they prefer Chinese with a little bit of Thai and other Asian cuisine thrown in. Jonathan came out of the kitchen to say hey to me and his mother, Caroline, made sure that everyone at the table was well taken care of. It was easy to get rezzies as I just hit Jonathan up and informed him that I was coming with a small group. He took care of the rest.

I didn’t really take inventory of what everyone else was having, just Stephanie and me, so I’ll go over that a little.

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XO Crispy Duck

We ordered the egg rolls as an appetizer and they were very good. Crispy with marinated pork and vegetables, served with a hot mustard and a vietnamese dipping sauce. That hot mustard sauce, man! It clears your sinuses, and fast. That was spicy stuff. I advise you to barely dip in unless you want to burn your septum. You’re not really burning anything but it’s potent and powerful stuff, to be sure; it’s a slow and delicious burn. Lots of flavor in those egg rolls, too. They were perfectly cooked.

Stephanie ordered the Xo Crispy Boneless Duck which is Lightly battered crispy duck on a bed of stir-fried mushroom, onions, celery, zucchini, and carrots with xo sauce. It comes served like fajitas in a Mexican restaurant: sizzling. I didn’t try it but she said it was really good. She is a fan of duck and this looked amazing. Pinkish duck in that light deep-fried shell? Yep, it looked fantastic and she said it was.

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General Tso

I ordered the General Tso Chicken. Now, I know that it’s not traditionally Chinese and was created, mostly likely, anyway, in the USA by a Chinese American chef. General Tso is battered chicken breast in a mild tangy sauce with green bell peppers, onions, broccoli. The sauce was thick and very flavorful. It was slightly spicy but, really, only slightly so. The tang was just right and I love thick sauces, I don’t like my food swimming in liquid as much as I do seeing it wade in the murk and this was just the right consistency for my taste. It comes with a side of rice (your choice white or brown – I went white).  Great dish.

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Surf n Turf Sushi

I also ordered the surf and turf sushi roll (it was created by Jonathan, by the way). It’s an inside-out roll filled with kani, asparagus, and cucumber. Topped with premium tuna, yellow tail, and Korean BBQ beef. It was drizzled with Korean hot sauce, eel sauce, and spicy aioli. I asked for the asparagus to be left off. I find that I can tolerate onions a little better now and asparagus, even the smell starts to turn my stomach. I tell you what about this roll, though… that Korean BBQ beef on the top? It was amazingly delicious! And, it’s not often that I eat sushi without soy sauce and wasabi. There was wasabi on the plate but I didn’t need it or the soy. I ate each piece as it was and it was quite a fine treat without the extra sodium.

I also had one of their signature cocktails: the spicy mango margarita. I somehow managed to not get the recipe but I can tell you that it was sweet and salty as a good margarita should be and there was a slight heat that snuck up on you, in your throat, after you drank it. I recommend that if you like sweet and spicy together.

And, they gave me a creme brulee for dessert to celebrate my birthday! Excellent experience. The only hitch was something went wrong with their draft system so we were relegated to bottled beer, no worries, we went with Tsingtao and Singha and there’s nothing wrong with that for flavor with Chinese/Asian food.

HakkaChow is located at 615 St. George Square Ct. and it is right behind the Carmax on Hanes Mall Blvd. You can find more about them, including making rezzies by visiting their website. I highly recommend it, especially if you like Chinese food, but don’t want the mainstream junk that is offered at other “chinese” restaurants. I think all at the table thought it was delicious and I can’t wait to go back. Thanks to Jonathan, Andrew, Hai-fang and Caroline for making us all feel welcome and for the great food!

Triad Local First’s Community Table: the Menu

So, here it is. The menu review for Triad Local First‘s Community Table event from October 2, 2016. Mary Lacklen called on Chef Travis Myers, of Willow’s Bistro to gather his culinary family together from both Winston-Salem and Greensboro to make this fantastic feast a reality. Here is what we had…

The Appetizers

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The appetizers were every bit as plentiful and as filling as any of the supper menu’s items.

Seafood Paella

Chef Jeff Bannister made a great seafood paella. It was prepared on an open flame in a large paella pan that had to have been 3 feet in diameter. Gorgeous pieces of shrimp, mussels and chorizo mixed with green beans, tomatoes, peas and other veggies resting on and in a bed of rice. Great flavor. I’m trying to think the last time I had paella that was this good; and I love paella. The whole thing was topped with a specially made saffron sauce. That was delicious.

Hay Roasted Oysters

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Chef Jordan Keiper, of The Tavern in Old Salem, manned the hay roasted oysters, smoke billowing from the dampened hay laying on the hot fire to roast these delicate morsels of mollusky goodness. It was fun to watch him prepare these, but it was even more fun to eat them. They were topped with a milky tomato foam, which I believe was Chef Travis’ concoction. The smells and flavors, between the hay and the oysters were a lot to take in and oh, Stephanie and I took them in.

The Supper Menu

The supper menu started with a glass of wine, either the Clos du Gaimont Vouvray 2015 chenin blanc or Mazzocco Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel 2013.

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A large cauldron was pitched on a chain and tripod with the beautiful soupy bounty inside, stewing away. It had rabbit, pit pork, butter beans, corn and okra. The broth was think yet still very liquid-like. I like thicker stews and soups and this one was right on the money. I like rabbit and pork and the two meats with the veggies and the tangy tomato-based liquid, was a very, very hearty start, once we sat down. Delicious.

Panzanella

2016-11-01-17-34-18Soaked charred bread topped with heirloom tomatoes, shaved red onion, pea shoots, olives from Olinda Olives, what I believe were cucumbers, and a vinaigrette. If you’re wondering, yes, I ate the onions; at least a few of them. Even though it was October, the heat was still with us and traditionally panzanella is a summer salad. It fit here, for sure. I have mentioned many times how I love pea shoots and microgreens, good bright crunch and mixed well with the acidic tomatoes and olives.

Border Springs Pit-Cooked Lamb

Very lovely lamb from Border Springs Farm that was prepared with a rosemary mop sauce on a black-eyed peas and rice combo, sometimes called “Hoppin’ John,” a natural jus and microgreens on the top. The lamb was “pulled” and was tender 2016-11-01-17-36-09and the mop sauce was great. The microgreens on top were, once again, the secret star of the dish. Mixed with the rosemary in the mop, the greens meshed and brought bright life to the Hoppin’ John. Yummy.

Heirloom Tomato and Flat Bean Salad

Chef Jeff Bacon, from Providence Restaurant and Triad Community Kitchen, and his lovely wife sat next to Stephanie and me and he was the one that portioned our end of the table’s plates for the next course. He did a fine job, like he’d done it before. It had, obviously, heirloom tomatoes, haricot vert, wax beans, micro beet greens, Olinda olive oil, and Goat Lady Dairy goat cheese with scallion ash. The bright red beet greens were 2016-11-01-17-37-26fantastic, both in presentation and in flavor; not earthy like their name would suggest. The deep colored greens and richly colored tomatoes were a great departure from the heavier lamb we had the previous course. I am and will always be a sucker for goat cheese, especially that what comes from Goad Lady Dairy. That stuff is the best goad cheese out there, in my opinion.

Heritage Farms Lexington-style Pit Cooked Hog2016-11-01-17-38-20

Heritage Farms pit cooked hog. It was served on top of Old Mill of Guilford’s yellow grits and on a kale salad with croutons and red onions (and perhaps shallots?). I’ll admit, I’m not one for kale or onions, as we know. But, I ate most of this, I believe. Honestly, it’s the dish that I remember the least about. I think the onions and kale threw me off.

Three Hour Braised Short Ribs

2016-11-01-17-39-29The meat was topped with leather britches beans and microgreens and sat on a bed of mashed potatoes with some jus spooned on. This was a huge block of beef that just fell apart when you put your fork to it; no knife required. The beans and microgreens added a brighter flavor to the savory meat. It was juicy, tender, succulent and delicious. And what is a slab of beef without potatoes to go with it? The mashed potatoes were creamy and the perfect companion to the chuck of beef. One of my favorite dishes. But, I was about full. We’d had a lot by then.

Orange Creamsicle Mousse Cake

But, that wasn’t all… Next, or finally, came the orange creamsicle mousse cake made by Chef Lucia Bobby of Greensboro Country Club. It was served with 2016-11-01-17-40-46charred citrus confit and had a small shortcake cookie on the top. This was paired with a fantastic dessert wine: Domaine de Durban Muscat de Beaume-de-Venise 2012. There was a lot of sweet in that course, and that’s just fine to me. The whole thing, sweet wine, dessert, citrus, all what would top this festival off. Bring it all to a close, if you will.

A very special thank you goes out to Mary Lacklen and Chef Travis, as well as all those involved in making this a memorable evening. I don’t think anyone walked away that night, disappointed. From the start to the finish, it was classy, elegant and delicious. I mean, even the port-a-potties had mood lighting and flowers. Class act right there.

Triad Local First’s Community Table: It’s Not Just for Greensboro, Anymore

The Community Table event for Triad Local First happened last month, on October 2, and it was a very well-planned2016-11-01-17-32-14 and successful event. Committee chair, Mary Lacklen, pulled her secret weapon out for the event, too. That would be one super chef, Chef Travis Myers of Willow’s Bistro, taking the reins of Executive Chef. In doing so, he unleashed a master plan that would help take the event, held at Hidden Lane Farm in Summerfield, from a traditionally Greensboro restaurant focus to a true “Triad” event.

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Mary Lacklen (©KristiMaier)

In the past, the event featured mostly (or only) Greensboro restaurants and chefs. Chef Travis wanted to bridge that gap with this event, saying, “What I wanted to do was intertwine Greensboro and Winston. Winston restaurants have a lot of events, like John Bobby (Executive Chef of Roosters: A Noble Grille) has events that get Winston restaurants together, he’ll have a crawfish boil or something. Greensboro doesn’t do that. They’re too spread out. A lot of great restaurants but they’re stretched out. So, I wanted to leave the door open for communication. I invited them to work with me.”

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Chef Travis Myers

Some of Triad Local First’s board members were kind of doubtful of Chef Travis’ ambitions and his ability to gather the chefs and restaurants he needed to pull off something this grand. He continues, “out of the twenty that I wanted to get to help me (including chefs, staff and help), twenty-six showed up. That’s six more than I wanted.” So, soon the board realized they were in good hands. Chef Travis certainly didn’t let them down, either. The event, at least to those sitting at the tables and taking in all the food involved, was nearly flawless.

One thing Chef Travis was adamant about was getting Triad Community Kitchen involved. Getting students and members of Chef Jeff Bacon’s tutelage (and watchful eye of Chef Janis Karathanis) was important because he felt it was in the scope of the organization’s goal: to create community. It was two fold, however, as it 1) served as a networking opportunity for the students to get to know some of the restaurateurs and chefs and perhaps finding work and 2) gave Chef Travis extra hands around the “kitchen.” It was a lot of work for him and having TCK there helped with the workload.

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Chef Brent Andruzzi

A lot of the prep and actual cooking was done beforehand, most of it at Willow’s Bistro, Chef Travis’ home base. Of course, the final touches were done at Hidden Lane Farm. Some of the top level chefs that were out to help Chef Travis’ cause were Chef Tim Thompson of Greensboro Country Club, Chef John Bobby, Chef Jay Pierce of Traveled Farmer in Greensboro, Chef John Jones, Chef Brent Andruzzi -the Chef de Cuisine at Willow’s Bistro, Chef Richard Miller of Graze in Winston-Salem, Chef James Patterson of Sedgefield Country Club, Chef Jared Keiper of the Tavern in Old Salem, and pastry chef, Chef Lucia Bobby of Greensboro Country Club. That list is probably truncated but it’s a good start. Chef Travis was reeling them in and dedicating a lot of time for this event, wanting to not only show that he could do it, but that he could with flair and style. That meant extra time from home, from his wife and kids, including his newborn daughter. It was, however, worth it. He threw a party. The party was good. But, no matter how good all the participation was, the event would have been nothing if the food hadn’t been extraordinary. It was, and all of it was locally sourced. To keep the posts to a minimum, I’m going to do the actual food review in another post, later this week, so keep on the lookout.

I would totally be remiss to forget to mention the awesome Esteban McMahan from TOPO Organic Spirits, who offered NC Whiskey Punch, Blood Orange Collins and Spicy Cucumber Lemonade as drink specials in addition to their special reserve that he’d give upon request. The special reserve is my favorite, but the drinks were all great, too. At one time there was one of each of the mixed drinks on my table in front of my courses.

Chef Jared Keiper

Chef Jared Keiper

Also, Pig Pounder Brewery was on hand and had four of their delicious brews on tap. And, Zero Wine and Cheese Shop were the wine curators for the event, which included Grove Vineyards’ Viognier (2015) and Malbec (2014) and Weathervane Winery’s Cirrus White and Nor’easter Chambourcin. Afterwards, The Grinder Cafe Coffee Truck was there to keep any of the diners that had gotten a little chilly warm with their lovely wares.

You can look at this menu and immediately know that Chef Travis Myers poured his heart and soul into creating a fantastic menu for Triad Local First’s annual fall spectacular. I think Mary Lacklen and her organization had a true winner here. Chef Travis said he’s already signed up for next year’s event. I, for one, cannot wait. And, from what I can tell from the (I’m guessing and this is a guesstimate) 100+ diners that sat, enjoyed and absorbed this fine feast, everyone else can’t wait for it, either. Bravo, Chef Travis Myers and Mary Lacklen; to you and all you had involved in this soiree!

Esteban McMahan of TOPO Organic Spirits

Triad Local First is a non-profit membership organization that is based out of Greensboro. They have over 280 members, including farmers, restaurants, breweries, distilleries, all the things you’d expect to be included in something that deals with community. But, it also includes dentists, realtors, retail shops, marketing firms and other industries that you may not think to remember. For more information, visit their website.

The Man Who Ate the Town Podcast Episode #13

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©stevedoumas

In Episode #13, proudly recorded from Test Pattern Studios:

  • Winston-Salem says goodbye to Mr. Nick Doumas.
  • Atelier at Meadowlark announces opening date.
  • Something happening on Liberty Street on Wednesday, November 2 (but I can’t tell you what).
  • Homebrewer’s Clubhouse event on November 5 (Learn to Homebrew Day).
  • Sipping NC: The Art of the Drink coming soon.

Don’t forget my sponsor, Washington Perk & Provision Company. Better than a convenience store but not quite a grocery store, in the heart of Washington Park and Downtown WSNC.

The Man Who Ate the Town is part of The Less Desirables Network. Give it a listen on iTunes, Stitcher, Podcast Addict and TuneIn, basically anywhere you can listen to podcasts. Or you can listen here (at the bottom of the post).

Slàinte!