Saturday, July 2, 2011

Taste of Asia

Originally I wasn't sure to come to this event but Eat here next!!! convinced me to go to form my own conclusions. I didn't have to walk far to smell the stinky tofu to know I arrived! The first thing I see were two line ups and that piqued my curiosity.  Fighting through both lines and the crowds I manage to find that the queue was for stinky tofu and raw oysters.  It wasn't just any stinky tofu but the most pungent of the bunch.  My restless feet just wanted to wander and couldn't wait at the lines.

Walking by the stands I get to see what the fuss was all about.  Those petite perky golden nuggets started to look particularly appetizing.

Has raw oysters becomes as ubiquitous as roasted corn, funnel cake, and cotton candy in these kinds of events? Strolling through the stalls to get a feel of things I counted no less than 5 purveyors of the odiferous delicacy. The taste buds will never forgive me if I tried all of them. To the uninitiated, the assault on the nostrils takes no prisoners and affects the young and the old, male and female.

A particular theme began to emerge as I see numerous stands of curry fish balls, grilled squid and new vice of grilled lamb skewers with cumin.  With all the bamboo spears moving about it was a wonder that I didn't see people get poked or prodded.  Perhaps that the secret to maintaining some personal space in such a crowded area. 

Seeing this vendor again at this event I can finally put a name to a dish that I saw at an earlier event.

Not wanting to waste more time lining up than eating I decided only to try a few items.  It can be really easy also to overspend at gatherings like this as well. After surveying the culinary landscape, I chose 3 items to try as I clearly didn't want to spend the rest my free time this week at the gym.

Hearing about @Foodieyu's tweet about the specialty toast had made it on the top of my list.  Next I wanted to sample a stall advertising authentic Osaka takoyaki and since I went to Japan last year.  Finally I could not leave with out trying the lineup for the stinky tofu at Mother Bear's.

The singular experience with takoyaki in Osaka did compare favorably with the ones they make here.  On the exterior it was crispy on the outside to contrast with the soft moist not yet fully cooked insides. Finishing off the dish was a light brush of what tasted to be okonomiyaki sauce and a generous squeeze of kewpie mayo.  Visually it was a bit lacking since there didn't seem to be any garnishes and I loved to add bonito flakes on top. Internally the piece of squid was just not contributing to the significantly to the taste of the dish.

Next the specialty toast was a spin on the traditional and it seem to garner alot of attention and praise.  I didn't have much of a sweet tooth that day so I opted for just 1 sweet and 2 savory toast.  The composition is quite simple and the tastes surprisingly good.  Next time I will try to make it at home. The strawberry sauce was not overly cloying or artificial with the pie crumb bits and whipped cream did give the illusion of it to my mouth.  The bacon & cheese would be something I would whip up with some velveeta and bacon bits.  Sadly the bacon did not have the punch and the flavor got lost in the cheese.  Lastly was the garlic bread with chopped parsley; it was very pedestrian and light on the garlic.

Finally having savored all that I wanted to try I lined up for the stinky tofu. No doubt that the line up was long but I didn't expect it to take as long as it did.  Trying to kill some time while waiting I tweet about how more people continue to wait behind me.  When it comes to my turn I send off my last tweet mentioning that it took 53 minutes to get this! Was this worth it? The food had a nice sharp flavor with the firms skin worked nicely the crispy pickled cabbage. The extra condiments on the side help to change up the flavor. This may sound cruel but what really made the meal for me was watching some students chiding another to take a bit of the stinky tofu from another vendor. He was bravery was rewarded with a gastric muscular reflex from the unwanted intruder. In other word, he was dry puking in front of his friends! Am I a mean person to find that slightly enjoying?

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