Tag Archives: Feature

El Asador: Traditionally Challenging (mise en place, Vol 17 – 2017)

bs_article4_1Grilling as we know it in Indonesia is mostly influenced by American culture and that it goes way back to the age of cowboys. What we may not really know is that the southern part of the continent apparently has a story of its own when it comes to steak. Coming to as far as Jakarta, El Asador shows us what’s so special about it.

El Asador is located in Jakarta’s Kemang neighborhood and for the past few years has been the best place to start appreciating the grilling culture as taught by the Patagonian cowboys of South America. The name of the restaurant itself refers to ‘the barbecuer’ or the heroes behind the wonderful steaks grilled on a parrilla.

The indoor parrilla grill, as used in El Asador and traditional Argentinian/Uruguayan steakhouses is a world of difference than the usual griddle that we often see. The Southern American counterpart uses metal nets laid flat and a space is provided below for the grilling fuel but not for direct fire, instead it utilizes indirect heat from embers of hardwood.

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Traditionally, the outdoor grill is made from a cross-shaped metal used to hold the whole animal together and it can be tilted manually further or closer against the open fire and to adapt against the wind. Usually this role is entrusted to asadors and the most experienced among them usually have the ability to hunt, slaughter the animal, and down with the cooking.

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The parrilla grill itself provides a challenging environment because of the immense heat. Hence the term of ‘mansquite’ among the asadors or the mixture of scents coming from sweat, meat, and smoke as a result of all-day grilling. It is the fruits of labor of these hardworking gentlemen.

El Asador uses specific beef aged between six to eight weeks and only seasoned with salt and pepper with no marinating process at all. The favorite cut here is definitely the ribs but the flat iron steak, chorizo, lamb sausage, and the traditionally known cuts such as vacio (flank steak), pamplona (chicken rolled with lamb fat), and lingua (beef tongue) are also must-tr y. These cuts are served altogether on a tray and it is a sight to see for meat lovers!

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With a huge crowd coming every day to El Asador to savor the steak and the togetherness, there’s no denying that the grilling heritage from the Patagonian gauchos will remain alive until far into the future.


EL ASADOR
www.elasador.co.id


Photography by Dennie Ramon

Original link: http://miseenplaceasia.com/traditionally-challenging/

Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants Announces 2017 Winners

Before an audience of the region’s most celebrated chefs, industry VIPs and international media, the list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, was announced at an awards ceremony at the W Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand. The 2017 list welcomes 10 new entries, while China, Japan, Singapore and Thailand each count 9 restaurants on the list.

Gaggan in Bangkok claims the No.1 spot for a third consecutive year. Gaggan retains the dual titles of The Best Restaurant in Asia, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, and The Best Restaurant in Thailand, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna. Chef Gaggan Anand is renowned for his creative twists on Indian cuisine, reinventing traditional dishes through contemporary techniques.

Also representing Thailand are familiar favourites Nahm (No.5), Issaya Siamese Club (No.21), Eat Me (No.31) and Bo.Lan (No.19), the latter making a welcome return to the list. 2017 marks the debut of four Bangkok restaurants: Sühring (No.13), The Dining Room at The House on Sathorn (No.36), Le Du (No.37) and L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon Bangkok (No.40).

Individual Country Awards:

Rising one place to No.2, chef André Chiang’s Restaurant André retains the title of The Best Restaurant in Singapore, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna. Other Singapore entries in the top 20 include Burnt Ends (No.10), Les Amis (No.16) and Waku Ghin (No.20).

Amber (No.3) in Hong Kong is again named The Best Restaurant in China, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna. The seven Hong Kong restaurants in the 2017 list include longtime favourites, such as Lung King Heen (No.17) and The Chairman (No.47), as well as newcomer Ronin (No.45).

Narisawa (No.6), one of six Tokyo-based entries in the top 20, is named The Best Restaurant in Japan, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, for a fifth successive year. Florilège, the 2016 recipient of the One To Watch Award, debuts on the list at No.14.
Maintaining its No.15 ranking, Mingles in Seoul retains the title of The Best Restaurant in Korea while Gallery Vask (No.35) in Manila keeps The Best Restaurant in the Philippines honour.

At No. 30, Indian Accent is awarded The Best Restaurant in India for the third time. The winners’ circle also includes RAW (No.24), winning The Best Restaurant in Taiwan title, Ministry of Crab in Colombo (No.29) securing honours as The Best Restaurant in Sri Lanka.

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Other award winners announced include:

Highest New Entry Award, sponsored by Mekhong:
Odette, Singapore

Launched in November 2015, chef-owner Julien Royer’s restaurant at the iconic National Gallery Singapore debuts at No.9, the highest new entry in the history of the list. Serving Asian-inspired modern French cuisine, each dish at Odette is presented with impeccable style and characteristic perfection.

Asia’s Best Pastry Chef:
Kazutoshi Narita, Tokyo

Japanese chef Kazutoshi Narita began his career alongside the ‘Picasso of Pastries’ Pierre Hermé -currently The World’s Best Pastry Chef Award holder – before honing his skills at Joël Robuchon restaurants in New York, Las Vegas and Tokyo. At Esquisse and the recently opened Esquisse Cinq, both in Tokyo, the award-winning pastry specialist combines the delicate artistry of Japanese cuisine with the nuances and creative flair of French pâtisserie.

Chefs’ Choice Award, sponsored by Peroni:
Dave Pynt, Singapore

An apprenticeship at Asador Etxebarri in Spain helped spark Australian-born Dave Pynt’s passion for playing with fire. Since 2013, Pynt has been turning up the heat at Burnt Ends, a gourmet barbecue restaurant in Singapore. Pynt’s mastery of various cooking techniques – from smoking and slow roasting to grilling – has earned him the respect of his regional peers. Burnt Ends debuted on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list in 2015 at No.30 and this year Pynt is the recipient of the Chefs’ Choice Award, sponsored by Peroni.

The Art of Hospitality:
Den, Tokyo

Rising 26 places to No.11, Den delights in surprising and entertaining its guests, making it a worthy recipient of the inaugural Art of Hospitality Award in Asia. The approach is playful, personable and inventive, reflecting the personality of Den’s chef-owner, Zaiyu Hasegawa.

Highest Climber Award:
Locavore, Bali

Celebrating Balinese culture and using only sustainably sourced local ingredients, Locavore rises 27 places to No.22, earning the title of The Best Restaurant in Indonesia.

Other award honourees include chef-restaurateur May Chow of Little Bao in Hong Kong and Bangkok, who is named Asia’s Best Female Chef 2017. TocToc in Seoul earns the Miele One To Watch Award for its creative use of seasonal Korean ingredients and refined French-influenced menu. Celebrated Italian chef Umberto Bombana of 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana is this year’s recipient of the Diners Club® Lifetime Achievement Award.


Source & images: Catch On

Chef Umberto Bombana is the 2017 Winner of The Diners Club Lifetime Achievement Award

Umberto Bombana, the renowned Italian chef of 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana in Hong Kong, is the 2017 recipient of The Diners Club® Lifetime Achievement Award. Honoured for his ability to push the limits of traditional Italian cuisine, Bombana will be presented with his award at the fifth annual Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards ceremony on Tuesday, 21st February 2017, hosted at the W Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand.

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Part of the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards programme, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, The Diners Club® Lifetime Achievement Award is voted for by members of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy, comprising over 300 leaders in the restaurant and culinary industries throughout Asia.

A native of Bergamo in Northern Italy, Bombana’s culinary talents took him around the world, eventually leading him to Hong Kong in 1993 where he was appointed Executive Chef at Toscana at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel. His creative flair and passion for refined Northern Italian cooking made Toscana an iconic destination on Hong Kong’s fine-dining scene. Showcasing his mastery of Italian cuisine and seasonal ingredients, he earned the title, ‘King of White Truffles’. During Bombana’s 15-year tenure at Toscana, he was named ‘Best Italian Chef in Asia’ in 2002 by the Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners (ICIF) and appointed Worldwide Ambassador of the White Truffle by the Piedmontese Regional Enoteca Cavour in Italy.

Following the 2008 closure of Toscana and The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Hong Kong, the Italian maestro launched 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana in 2010. Inspired by Italian film director Federico Fellini’s 1963 movie 8½, the restaurant pays homage to Bombana’s native cuisine, serving refined Italian food with the finest seasonal ingredients sourced from around the world. Otto e Mezzo Bombana debuted on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list in 2013 at No.39 and ranked within the top 10 of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list for three consecutive years. Since 2012, the restaurant has also boasted a coveted three-star ranking in the annual Michelin guide, the first and only Italian restaurant outside Italy to receive such a distinction.

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Extending his culinary influence in Asia, the popular chef launched 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana Shanghai in 2012 and Opera Bombana in Beijing a year later. In December 2013, he opened Hong Kong’s first refined Italian trattoria, CIAK – In The Kitchen, and has since expanded to a second outlet. More recently, he opened a further branch of Otto e Mezzo Bombana at Galaxy Macau.


Credit: Bombana & Catch On

Thank the Ottoman Empire for the taco al pastor (via PRI)

Tacos al pastor from Carmela’s Mexican Restaurant in Beaumont, Texas

At the Supermercado Mexico in Portland, Oregon, you’ll find a turning spit of pork, basted with chili and onions, dripping fat and flavor. Shave some off into a tortilla and you’ve got a taco al pastor, the classic Mexican street food.

It’s a similar scene halfway across the world in Jerusalem. At the hole-in-the-wall Al Waary restaurant, there’s a vertical rotisserie of beef spinning next to the flames, flavored by tangy vinegar. Shave some off into a pita, and you’ve got shawarma — the quintessential Middle Eastern street meat.

If you’re thinking these beloved dishes might be linked, you’re right. So we hit the street food trail to find out, starting in Jerusalem.

“Shawarma is very, very interesting,” says Ali Qleibo, a Palestinian anthropologist, sitting at the Al Waary shawarma joint. The origin of the word shawarma comes from the Turkish word çevirme, which means “turning.”

Ali Qleibo, a Palestinian anthropologist, in front of Al Waary shawarma stand in Jerusalem

You can find some version of shawarma everywhere in the Middle East where the Ottoman Empire once reigned.

“Turks call it döner kebab; Greeks call it gyro; Iraqis call it kas,” Qleibo says. “This shows you the all-pervasive influence of the Ottoman Empire, because all the subjects of the Ottoman Empire eat shawarma even though they call it by different names.”

Of course, the people of the Ottoman Empire didn’t all stay there. About 36,000 people under Ottoman rule left for Mexico between the late 19th and early 20th century.

“People came from as far as Egypt. I found some people [who] came from Iraq,” says Theresa Alfaro-Velcamp, a history professor at Sonoma State University who has tracked the migration of Middle Easterners to Mexico. “The majority came from the Levant, as it was called during that time, which is now modern-day Lebanon and Syria.”

The migrants left for the usual reasons: looking for economic opportunity, dodging army conscription and escaping sectarian violence. And when they arrived, they brought their food with them. “By the 1930s, there were restaurants that served shawarma,” says Jeffrey Pilcher, a historian and author of the book “Planet Taco.”

A shawarma sandwich in Jerusalem. Swap in pork for lamb, and a tortilla for a pita, and you’ve got the Mexican classic, Taco al Pastor

Then the cuisine morphed: “During the 1960s, the Mexican-born children of these Lebanese migrants … start opening up their own restaurants, and they start to create a kind of a hybrid cuisine,” Pilcher says.

“They take the technology that they grew up with in these Lebanese restaurants, the vertical rotisserie — but instead of using lamb, they use pork,” Pilcher says. “They marinate it in a red chili sauce, which gives it that distinctive color, and they cook these up and serve them and call them tacos al pastor.”

Even the term “al pastor,” which means “in the style of the shepherd,” is a nod to the original Middle Eastern lamb version of the dish.

When Mexico’s economy boomed after World War II, tacos al pastor moved from small towns to bigger cities and eventually into the US.

The fact that this classic dish was a relatively recent import from the Middle East doesn’t necessarily make it any less Mexican, adds Pilcher, the taco historian. “Authenticity isn’t always something that dates back to the ancient Aztecs and Mayas,” he says. “That meaning of Mexico is continually being recreated in every generation.”

But whether it’s lamb or pork, tortilla or pita, Jerusalem or Portland, the essentials have remained the same: Fat and fire, a handful of spices, a quick meal —  and a taste of tradition.


Source: https://www.pri.org/stories/2015-05-07/thank-ottoman-empire-taco-youre-eating

Photography: Daniel Estrin, Randy Howards, Joanne Rathe

The Escapist’s Getaway™: The Wonders of Miyajima

The ancient island of Miyajima has more to it than just its legendary stature.

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Prologue

Miyajima was once untouched by warfare for around one millennium before the Sengoku period in the 16th century. Records showed that the construction of Itsukushima Shrine here dated since as far as the 6th century and completed like its current form by Taira no Kiyomori in 12th century.

It was not until the year was 1555 when the clan of Mouri, once considered only a small clan in Chugoku, challenged the usurper Sue Harukata of the powerful Ouchi Clan of northern Kyushu.

Taunted, Sue Harukata commanded his full army to engage the Mouri and they’re deliberately led to this island. Wily as a fox, Mouri Motonari as the patriarch of Mouri at that time, ambushed Harukata and decisively defeated his powerful army.

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The victory elevated the Mouri to prominence in west Japan afterwards. Despite the eventual victory of the rivaling Tokugawa Clan and the end of Sengoku period, the pride stayed within the hearts of the people in the region and will eventually spark the ultimate transformation from feudalism era to Japanese hegemony in the 19th century industrial era.

With or without knowing the history behind it, Miyajima was the very source of this awakening – started with the victory of the Mouri clan and the eventual Meiji Restoration. In a peaceful era like now, the island welcomes thousands of visitors each year with its natural beauty, rich culture, and stories from the olden times.

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The trip

Summarizing my one day trip to Miyajima, I can now conclude one important thing should you wish to visit the island. And that is to head there early from Hiroshima to spend the whole day here enjoying all the attractions, or even spend a night if possible.

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There are many ways to head here from Hiroshima. If you feel like arriving early at Hatsukaichi to board the ferry, it’s best to start from JR Hiroshima Station by using JR Sanyo Line or if you are planning to visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park first – you can use the streetcar from Genbaku Dome for cheaper but longer travel time. Alternatively, there are buses available as well heading to Hatsukaichi or you can even use the high speed boat from Hiroshima Port for JPY 1,800 and head straight to Miyajima.

The ferry trip from Hatsukaichi to Miyajima came with a very considerate price. It took only JPY 360 for a round trip, but bear in mind that the service stops at 5pm. That’s exactly the reason if you wish to spend only a day at Miyajima, then it is best to arrive early. However, if you would like to spend a night – there are more than 25 hotels available, scattering all over the island.

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The short ferry trip was a memorable one as you can witness the legendary Itsukushima torii or the giant orange gateway of the shrine. Later today, visitors can witness the magnificent view of it when the rising tide came, covering some parts of the torii.

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Arriving, it’s best to head straight to Miyajima-cho, the only town in the island and spend some time shopping souvenirs or having your meals. Miyajima is known for its conger eel rice bowl and oysters. I had my terrific all-about-oysters lunch set menu at Kaki-ya and spent additional dime trying Marukin Honpo’s conger eel buns. Another what to do at the town is to shop at Yamadaya for their famed momiji manju and even taking a hands-on class on how to bake these sweet delicacies.

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The distance was a short one from the town to the shrine and I particularly enjoyed my autumn beach walk, funnily accompanied by these inquisitive wild deers attracted with the food I brought. Alternatively, some rickshaws are also available at your disposal, ready to take you anywhere around the island and a blanket to keep you warm.

As expected, the very view of it took my breath away. It was like a dream come true, that this beautiful cultural heritage that I had seen in many pictures since my childhood finally can be witnessed firsthand. Particularly, it reminds me of my father’s travels to Japan in the 80s and that I can finally relive his moments here. I wonder if anyone else there shared the same thoughts as well.

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However, the trip is not considered complete without visiting the shrine as well. For an additional entrance fee, you can spend some time inside and seeing the priests praying and passing you by, marveling upon the architecture, seeing the torii from here, and even encountering newlyweds wearing beautiful traditional garments. It’s like a journey through time again here, realizing that it was like this back in the medieval times almost a thousand years ago which you can still experience it today.

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Alas, it was almost time to leave the island already. Nevertheless, I fully maximized that fleeting moment by having a good cuppa at the island’s famous coffee shops – Miyajima Itsuki Coffee and Sarasvati, while also passing by the Five Storied Pagoda and reserving my dreams to hop aboard the ropeway to Mount Misen and enjoying Miyajima from above.