A sous chef at Nopalito, Joji Sumi, has been holding pop-ups under the name Through the Kitchen Window. The menu at their Feb 11th event was seasonal with a heavy east Asian influence. The food was creative, boldly flavored, and served dim sum style ala State Bird Provisions. There were 6:30 PM and 9 PM seatings, and the meal was well paced to allow our party of four to enjoy all but one of the dishes on the menu. The meal plus tax and tip was $40 per person (we only got two drinks).
= Top items =
Brussels sprouts with shrimp chips, fish sauce: perhaps a riff on David Chang’s brussels sprouts. Instead of bland crisp rice and an over-the-top sauce, crumbled shrimp chips provided flavor and crunch and the sauces were mild enough to taste the brussels sprouts.
Grilled DB&J: Duck liver, almond butter, Quince jam (dark enough to suggest membrillo) on toasted brioche
Huitlacoche dumplings: Sumi’s chops in Mexican cuisine came across in these plump dumplings. Earthy huitlacoche rivals meat, and holds together enough that I hope someone experiments with a vegetarian huitlacoche xiao long bao. Made with gyoza skins.
Steamed spare ribs with togarashi furikake
Miso roasted chicories with fried tofu and kumquat
Pork gyoza: browned on one side and greaseless, umami-rich pork laid on top of what tasted like a homemade teriyaki sauce. Excellent execution of a dish usually given little care.
= Very good =
Manila clams, tofu broth, soppressata
Poached egg, farro, leeks and brown butter was the only fully western dish but fit in seamlessly
Duck wings with sweet soy, scallion, puffed rice
= Right idea, seasoning or cooking time needed adjustment =
Cumin lamb tartare : the texture combination of cold chopped meat and crisp rice was successful, but the strong and monotone use of cumin powder masked my ability to taste the lamb. An herbal component, or fennel seeds, could’ve elevated this, as wouldn’t toasty chili oil if sticking close to the source material weren’t a problem.
Sticky rice with bacalao, bonito flakes, chili oil: shows promise as a spicier, saltier, and more umami heavy follow-up to Mission Chinese’s salt cod fried rice. There were some magnificent bites in the mix, but the chili-garlic? sauce tended to overpower the more delicate flavors of the salt cod.
Smoked beef tongue on Parker roll had the right type of bread, but the smoke dominated
Steamed whole snapper was a tad dry. Good sauce (“asian trinity”)
The one dish available only by pre-order, a roasted pig head, was presented to each table and then sliced in the kitchen. It was served in the style of peking duck, with green onions and pancakes on the side. We did not order this, but enjoyed the wafts of roasted pig at the adjacent table.