Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Rasa Restaurant, Toronto

Rasa is the new restaurant from creative chef Adrian Niman, co-proprieter and chef for the well known, highly popular caterer, The Food Dudes, and formerly chef at Bloke and 4th. 

One of the seasonal dishes that was a standout was the Maryland soft shelled crab not miss this dish as it is in season now, and this may be the best soft shelled crab sandwich that I have enjoyed anywhere!

Mini muffins of semolina, grilled corn, mild poblano peppers, cheddar and honey butter, a great start.

Lobster bites, butter braised lobster sous vide in a lobster buttered squid ink brioche with celery heart and finely diced crispy chorizo. Chef Niman is all about textures and contrasting flavours.

One of the 4 faves of the night, chopped salad.....but, this is not just any chopped salad. A range of chopped seasonal veggies, including purple kale, romaine, grapes, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, bell peppers and deep fried crispy chickpeas and Macedonian feta, seasoned with parsley, mint, sumac all mixed together with quinoa and dressed with an aged balsamic vinaigrette and another dressing made with the feta blended with seeded jalapenos. A remarkably good range of flavours and textures once again.

Fritto misto, one of my faves of the night, perfectly cooked lemongrass shrimp that had been marinated in Thai spices for 24 hours and quickly fried to texture perfection and served with shishito peppers that had been lightly battered, fried and seasoned with lemon zest and then all topped with yuzu chilli oil and ginger flavoured ponzu glaze. One eats this dish topping rice crisps with the peppers and shrimp. Another terrific combination of textures and flavours....chef Niman's forte!

Crunchy skinned, jalapeno poppers, wrapped in serrano ham, with goat cheddar, lime crema and tomato jam. The jalapenos are scooped out and filled with goat cheddar and caramelized onions and deep fried. One of my very favourite dishes tonight.

The presentation of the fabulous Maryland soft shelled crab sandwich!

Sandwich closeup. The crab is marinated in buttermilk and old bay seasoning for 24 hours, dipped in a cornmeal tempura batter and then deep fried to crisp perfection. The crispy batter looks heavy but is remarkably light and ungreasy. The crab is mounted in a soft buttermilk bun that has been lavishly coated with bacon jam and topped with sliced tomatillo and iceberg lettuce. My favourite food experience of this meal.

Inside the soft shelled crab sandwich. Yummy!!

Calamari bolognese consists of house made semolina noodles flavoured with garlic and parsley. The clever "bolognese" sauce is made with coarsely ground calamari that has a similar texture to ground beef in a bolognese sauce. to create the bolognese sauce, ground calamari is sauteed with grated carrot, onions, celery and garlic and then deglazed with white wine and flavoured with miso. This combination is then added to the house made tomato sauce and slowly simmered for a couple of hours. Fermented chilli is added for a bit of a kick and then crispy bacon bits for texture and a further smoky flavour. A remarkably creative dish!

Fluffy egg yoke gnudi is made with chick pea flour, buffalo ricotta, parmesan and herbs, blanched and then pan fried in brown butter. Lightly smoked carrot puree is a base for the gnudi. Summer heirloom tomatoes and wild mushrooms are added to round off this dish.

Cabbage rolls with kalbi marinated steak, shimeji mushrooms, spicy kimchi dressing with radish and carrots, cripy vermicelli and a creamy queso cheese sauce. Because of cheese sauce, this dish did not quite work for me.

Grilled octopus (not an ideal texture tonight), is combined with tender, long braised then glazed, pork belly which has been crisped in a pan before service, parsnip puree, apple salad (also made with radish, kale and carrot) and potato crisps.

The finale, sticky bun with walnut praline, cream cheese anglais and candied bacon.

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