Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Banana Mafia Presents "Asian Street Market"

The Banana Mafia (haha love the name!) consists of five very talented Asian chefs in the city: Nick Liu of GwaiLo, Robert Hojilla of Ursa, Leemo Han of Swish by Han & ODDSEOUL, Jeff Claudio of Yours Truly and Jonathan Poon of Chantecler. The five chefs got together with one goal in mind: promote modern Asian cuisine. In a Singapore hawker-style setting and with the use of top quality local ingredients, the inaugural Asian Street Market event took place this past Monday at Amsterdam Brewery. Before I go on, I must say this:


There was no question whatsoever that I was going to attend Asian Street Market. After all,  five dishes put together by some of Toronto's top Asian chefs? I'm so in. Another very important reason: my girl, Kristina Chau of Not Your Average Party (@notyouravgparty) was in charge of coordinating the entire event (a sold-out event, I must add). You did a fantastic job Kris! Much love! *XOXO*

When we walked into Amsterdam Brewery, we were promptly given a small paper bag filled with cute Asian snacks, candies, 6 tasting tickets (five tickets for each hawker stand and one ticket for an Amsterdam Natural Blond Lager) and a pair of chopsticks.

The second floor of Amsterdam Brewery was transformed into what resembles a traditional Singapore hawker centre (i.e. an organized outdoor food court housing stalls that sells inexpensive food).

Pics of random Asian things:

At Chef Liu's station: fried chili, almond crumble, wild leek sambal chili sauce, trout lilly.

Red lantern with "福" written on it (means good fortune / blessing / happiness).

Sriracha on every table

Chef Claudio's "Bang Bang Chicken" dish written in Chinese (by the way, the dish is called "bang bang chicken" because of the noise made by wooden cudgels used for pounding cleavers blades through the meat).

With that, lets start with Chef Jeff Claudio of Yours Truly (@YoursTruly229)

Chef Claudio's Sichuan Tingling Chicken, Cucumber, Bean Sprout, Coriander & Chili Oil - A unique combination of salty, sweet, sour, nutty and hot flavours tasty. The numbing heat from the fiery chili oil and the textures from the sesame seeds and nuts really elevated the dish. Make no doubt about it, when made as intended, this is a spicy and fiery hot dish.

Chef Nick Liu (@Ninjachefnick) of GwaiLo (@GwaiLoToronto)

Chef Liu's Gossens Trout Farm Wild Garlic Sambal Trout with Crispy Black Bean Fiddleheads & Jellyfish Slaw - Fried to a golden colour, the plump piece of trout was moist on the inside with a thin light crust on the outside (love the crispy skin!). I was equally impressed with the fiddleheads; spiced and seasoned with black bean, I want to eat fiddleheads prepared this way from now on ;)

Chef Robbie Hojilla from Ursa

Chef Hojilla's Grilled Pork Belly, Fermented Vegetables, Ramps, Banana Ketchup in a Coconut Crepe - I ate this like a taco. I wanted to make sure I had every component in my mouth at the same time. Wrapped in a thin crepe, I loved the perfectly grilled juicy, soft and fatty piece of pork belly with the crisp, crunchy vegetables. The banana ketchup tied the two elements together brilliantly. 

Chef Leemo Han (@Liimohan) of Swish by Han (@Swish_by_Han) & ODDSEOUL (on the right)

Chef Han's Sweet Soy Beretta Farms Beef Tartare with Garlic, Jalapeno, Cilantro, Korean Pear, Pine Nut & Quail Yolk - Meticulously diced on the spot, the sweet soy sauce seasoned beef tartare with a quail yolk resulted in a silky finish. Bright and bold flavours from the tartare combined with the light cilantro and Korean pear was just excellent. 

Chef Jonny Poon from Chantecler (@ChanteclerTO) (Poon helping out at Liu's station)

Chef Poon's Almond Tofu with Asian Pears in an Osmanthus Syrup - With all the bold flavours from the previous dishes, I was longing for something light and refreshing, and man did this dessert hit the spot! The smooth chunks of soft tofu submerged in a thin, slightly sweet osmanthus syrup paired with tiny tapioca was exquisite. Such a lovely ending.

Last but not least, Asian inspired cocktails created by Christina Kuypers (@deKuypers) and Josh Lindley (@josh_lindleywere available through out the night and prepared by Sarah Parniak (@S_Parns), bartender at Cold Tea (@coldteabar).

Group shot! V^_^V

All five plates were SOLID! I really cannot emphasize this more! I enjoyed each and every dish tremendously. And was it worth $60? HELL YEAH! Hardly any line-ups and with ample space to sit and relax, the Asian Street Market is definitely my kind of event (I hate crowds & I hate lining up). Finally, the Asian in me says this: 

"It was good value for a lot of food"


The next Banana Mafia event will most likely be in the next  several months. Keep your eyes peeled and make sure you follow @GwaiLoToronto on Twitter for updates