Monday, January 15th, 2018 7:00PM – 10:00PM
Event held at Ki’Na
420 N. Federal Hwy, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
We were ready for the new year and FoodieFreaks kicked off 2018 with a bang. When the the mystery chef and restaurant was revealed, it was a great surprise. Recently opened, Ki’Na was getting great reviews as owner Christina Wan looked to focus on complex flavors with dishes inspired by memories of authentic Asian cooking – with a twist.
Bill (the wine guy) and manager Olga greeted us as we entered the restaurant with a cold, crisp Prosecco. This dry bubbly has a pale straw yellow color and is delicately aromatic Some slight hints of white florals, toast and candied lemon make this for easy drinking.
Already we were all very clear that this was not going to be a traditional Asian meal. The gigantic wooden block table that was arranged for us was reminiscent of the setting for King Arthur’s feast – exactly what we could hope for.
Chef Vince Tien and his team were busily working on the first dish as we gathered and took our seats. We could see that they were working with all sorts of small ingredients, expertly placing each on plates with chopsticks.
We starting the evening’s feast with an artful plate that was based around shredded organic beets. On top of a black pepper dusting on the plate sat the red ruby color of the beets which seemed to glow. On top of the beets sat a soft-boiled quail egg with small, tender Shimeji mushrooms that were gently pickled. A touch of Shishito peppers added a hint of heat and pomegranate added a citrus flavoring . We dipped freshly made sesame rich crackers into the mix and the flavors were exotic and perfectly balanced.
This course was paired A to Z Sparkling Rose (2016) – The lovely, pale pink A to Z Bubbles invite with juicy, ripe fruit aromas. Notes of strawberry, raspberry, watermelon, cherry, white peach, nectarine and apricot are joined by white flowers and a hint of creaminess. Primarily Pinot Noir with a bit of Chardonnay (10%) is used in this recipe.
Next up was a sea scallop presented in a deep white bowl that helped to bring out the rich color of the flat top sear. Deftly cooked for a short time in hot grapeseed oil with a simple salt and pepper spicing. The outside was crust crisp that held a soft and creamy inner atop a freshly grated wasabi creme fraiche sauce. Mexican sour cucumbers and currants were pickled and added as garnish to help present a wide array of flavors with each bite.
For this course, Nederburg Chenin Blanc (2015) from South Africa was selected. Said to be seductive, toasty scents of brioche and pie crust are upfront on the nose, supported by notes of baked apple, orange oil and melon. The round, plush mouthfeel is soft and richly fruited, with just enough acidity to keep it from feeling too heavy.
A treat was in store as the Chef Vince explained the Ōra King Salmon flown in from the Pacific Northwest. This was his take on a dish that he had on the streets of Taiwan as a child. Chili soy marinated organic avocado chunks sat beside the bright orange salmon cubes. Hints of toasted sesame from the plate bed were within every bite that was accentuated by the crisp pop of salmon roe. Pickled rose petals added a beautiful color to the dish along with a garnish of micro-greens. The range of textures from this creation were fantastic.
Pairing this dish was Imagery Chardonnay (2016) from California. This wine was explained to have aromas of apple, lime and pear. Subtle oak and the addition of Chenin Blanc, boost this wine’s brightness and overall floral characteristics. Flavors of red apple and honeysuckle coat the mid-palate, leaving a feeling of balance with a bright acid finish.
The next course was a continuation of the Ōra King Salmon theme. This time the belly (from the shoulder) of the fish was used. The salmon was marinated and flash cooked to extract the fishy oils and then cut thinly into triangular shapes.Then, pieces were placed in a sauce of rice wine, which was cut with soy sauce. The dish was served with homemade compressed pickled mangos to enhance the range of flavors. The plate was then garnished with red and green Mizuna Mustard Greens.
To balance the rich salmon flavor, a sweet and citrusy Acrobat Pinot Gris (2015) was chosen. Best known to have a complex nose of lemon, pineapple and Key lime pie is accented by firm notes of vanilla custard and jasmine. Bright flavors of fresh lime, lemon zest and green mango are immediately apparent, with riper fruit flavors of pear and guava lingering in the mid-palate.
Fresh organic heirloom carrots were our next treat. Chef Vince explained to us that he loves using vegetables in his cooking because they have so much character and distinction. A raw honey glaze was brushed on the carrots as they were seared to develop a slight caramelization on the outer edge. A touch of freshly squeezed lime juice was added to developed a sweet and sour flavoring of this simple boldly flavored creation.
Accompanying this dish was a Michel Picard Vouvray (2016) from France. Often said to have be off-dry in sweetness framed with a freshness of flavors of apricot and stone fruit on the palate. The hint of sweetness is counterbalanced by a tartness of acidity keeping the wine round and fresh.
Course number six was on the way – just over the halfway point of this wonderful experience. Bitter grilled radicchio was set atop a tender piece of chicken breast. Brined with barley tea, the chicken was slow cooked at 140 degrees for 90 minutes in what the Chef called reverse roasting. Tender is an understatement. The meat rested on a ginger scallion chimichurri that was made with fresh and pickled ginger, scallions and blended with a light virgin olive oil and spices.
Bill made a great choice when pairing the Lucien Albrecht Riesling (2016) with this dish. This is 100% Riesling, with citrus and mineral notes that reveals itself slightly with a crispness on the palate. It comes through with dried leaves, ripe apples, and a slight floral note and a bright finish.
Asian inspired duck breast was presented next. A thin layer of fat was kept on the duck to keep the meat moist and full of flavor. This dish was a take on Duck a L’Orange with an Asian twist. Sour kumquats were used as a jellied accompaniment for the duck that was sprinkled with a frozen coconut milk puree. A cured egg yolk, that has a gummy-bear like characteristic, was set on the side as a textural enhancement.
A red was chosen as the wine to blend with this dish. The King Estate Pinot Noir (2015) from Oregon had a delicate balance that did not overwhelm. Tasting notes of dark berries, chocolate, and cigar box in this complex wine are hallmarks of this stainless steel fermented red.
An Egg? Not just a simple egg, but a poached egg split and oozing on top of pure lusciousness. Shredded Chanterelle mushrooms and lump crabmeat were blended together in a seafood broth that was simmered down to infuse the flavor of black truffles. Wild mushrooms and fresh peas were added to the wonderfully aromatic sauce that was then topped with the cracked egg. This was a bold and aggressively rich dish that had incredibly deep and well developed flavors.
In order not to compete for palate space, this was paired with Amezton Rubentis Txakolina Rosé (2016) from Spain. The color was light, but a brilliant pink. It is said to have mineral-accented citrus fruit and red berry scents, along with a suave floral nuance. Silky and sharply focused on the palate, showing juicy strawberry, orange zest and mineral qualities and a deeper suggestion of peach.
Slowly braised in a Pho broth, then charred seared. A small amount of Chinese five-spice was added to the cooking broth to cut any gaminess which revealed a gorgeous serving of beef tongue. It was presented with farm fresh red and yellow tomatoes, all topped with pickled mustard seeds. Finally, a tamari soy glaze was brushed on the meat to complete the dish. The result was was pull-apart tender that needed no utensils to cut. The Chef explained that this dish was inspired by the BBQ meats that are often seen in night markets of Beijing,
The wine for this delicious preparation was a Grenache from Austin Hope (2013). Deep ruby colored, this wine is has been written up as being marked by dried red and black cherry, strawberries and rhubarb, while dusty saddle leather, dried rose petals, savory herbs, cardamom and sweet vanilla add to its complexity. On the palate it is bright, juicy with big, gripping tannins.
Nine skillfully created dishes for this event – one to go. To put a fitting end to this incredible array of flavors, dessert was now on the way. Raw honey was mixed with five-spice and then blended with long strands of organic spaghetti squash. Yes, a vegetable for dessert! The plate was decorated with frozen coconut and gooseberries. Pieces of Yuba with steamed soy milk and burnt mango chips were sweetened and then arranged. It was art-on-a-plate!
A great ending that fit perfectly with the night’s themes.
Thanks to all involved at Ka’Ni for creating a truly spectacular evening. You outdid yourselves and our palates are eternally grateful.