Fresh Eats: Our weekly roundup of SFoodie news

EAT THIS: 4505 Meats' Fried Chicken Yum Yum

By Lou Bustamante

The Ferry Plaza farmers' market was drizzly and humid on a recent Saturday, the kind of day that makes you seek shelter in the warm embrace of a hot meal. We wound our way around the market until something on the menu at 4505 Meats decided it for us, with a name — Chicken Yum Yum ($10) — I found impossible to resist. If nothing else, I needed a little humor.

4505 Meats’ Yum Yum sandwich combines cornmeal-crusted fried chicken with pickled vegetables.
Lou Bustamante
4505 Meats’ Yum Yum sandwich combines cornmeal-crusted fried chicken with pickled vegetables.

The name might have been playful, but the sandwich was seriously delicious: a spiced chicken filet dipped in a thin cornmeal batter and fried, wedged onto a toasted and buttered bun dressed with peppery aioli, and decorated with a tangy mixture of lightly pickled zucchini, peppers, jalapeños, and tomatoes that seemed to express summer better than the sky seemed capable of.

The chicken was crispy, not greasy, its thin veneer of cornmeal breading serving both as juice barrier and source of contrasting crunch. It managed to be simultaneously rich and light. And after eating half of it in the rain, the part I saved for later stayed remarkably crisp and moist. A chicken sandwich that stays crunchy in the drizzle? For shizzle.

4505 Meats: Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market, 1 Ferry Building (at Embarcadero), Thu. and Sat.


ICHI Pleases Like an Old Pro

By Alex Hochman

Tim Archuleta didn't seem like a chef whose restaurant was just three nights old. Behind the sushi bar at ICHI recently, Archuleta was all smiles, telling stories while preparing dishes and calmly speaking orders to his sous chef.

Though Archuleta and his wife, Erin, are first-time restaurateurs, they have plenty of experience as owners of both ICHI Lucky Cat Deli at 331 Cortland Marketplace and ICHI Catering, plus the Monday night happy hour at Bender's.

The chef cut his teeth at Tokyo Go Go under Kiyoshi Hayakawa (now owner of Koo), whom Archuleta refers to as "sensei."

Ichi's fish is fresh, generously portioned, and impeccably cut. We started with yellowtail ($5.25), firm and assertive, and local albacore tuna ($4.75), meltingly rich and smooth. Next, a Sriracha-spiked mayonnaise added pleasant but not jarring heat to a spicy scallop roll ($5.75). Thankfully, we were still able to taste the rest of our food. A pair of glistening shrimp was juicy and sweet; their accompanying heads expertly fried and a little gamy, just how we like it. Our final bite from the sushi bar was an exemplary order of briny, flanlike sea urchin roe, harvested in the waters off Fort Bragg.

Because of limited kitchen space and the lack of an exhaust system, Archuleta prepares three of his hot plates sous vide, finishing them in a small convection oven or deep-fryer. Yuzu chicken wings ($9.50) were actually marinated in kobosu (a Japanese citrus), burnt sake, and soy before being sealed and placed in their warm bath. Then they were rolled in potato starch before a trip to the fryer. The result: wings unlike any I've tasted. The starchy exterior eventually covered my fingers and lips, giving way to moist, mildly fruity bites of meat followed by a lightweight punch of spice.

Pork tenderloin ($10), also prepped sous vide, was pan-seared in the convection oven — Archuleta's clever workaround for burners. The pork was sliced thin and served over a large puddle of citrus-shallot mustard. Though tasty, it was a dish more Heidelberg beer hall than Mission sushi bar. I found myself secretly hoping for a side of spaetzle.

With food this good after only three nights, Archuleta's sensei should be proud.

ICHI Sushi: 3369 Mission (at Godeus), 525-4750.


Who Makes S.F.'s Best Japanese-Style Beef Curry?

By Jonathan Kauffman

Modern-day diners may spot a box of Golden Curry at Nijiya Market and assume Japanese importers brought curry back from the port of Kolkata, or perhaps it arrived through trade with Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta. But the story of Japanese curry is even twistier.

Curry — the kind served by local Japanese curry houses like Muracci's and Volcano Curry — actually belongs to Japan's tradition of yoshoku, or Western, cuisine. Yoshoku is the equivalent of the American love for smoked-salmon-and-cream-cheese sushi rolls. A few years ago, The New York Times ran a brilliant article tracing the roots of yoshoku dishes like hambagu and omuraisu to the Meiji restoration of the 1850s.

In fact, it was the British who introduced the Japanese to curry powder, itself a European shortcut for the complex spice blends British colonists encountered in India. That's why the Golden Curry box calls for Western vegetables like carrots and potatoes, why it's often made with beef (banned in Japan until the Meiji restoration), and why Japanese curry is often served over katsu, aka wienerschnitzel.

Unlike the one-hour dinners you make with store-bought cubes, Volcano Curry of Japan claims that its curry-making process takes a full day — eight to 10 hours of simmering, plus another 12 hours letting the flavors mellow and combine. The resulting sauce is thin, cornstarch-glossed, with that singular Madras curry-powder flavor bolstered by the umami from the chicken stock. Served with beef and vegetables over rice, the curry is something you can eat without paying it much mind — at least until the sharp-edged, persistent heat makes you stop for a while, clear your palate with some white rice and a boiled potato, and then return to shoveling it in.

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