Friday, July 8, 2011
First, I have to apologize, for I've now posted a photo taken inside a men's room, and it's not even of an infamous raging urinal up the coast. (Second, you have no idea how weird it is to be in a men's room and see an entire tour of Japanese come in--luckily I was at the hand-washing stages, but those are the joys of the Madonna Inn.) Third, one feels odd taking photos in a public restroom, at least I do. Fourth, we're a long way from my intended topic, which is the fabulous Kaya Toast at Susan Feninger's Street (they might want it typed all caps, and Feninger is sort of an all caps persona, but I refuse to shout, despite my enthusiasm for the place).
Feninger, originally famous as one of the Two Hot Tamales with co-Border Grill and Ciudad owner Mary Sue Milliken, struck out on her own with this spot that ranges round the globe doing variations of street food gussied up a bit (it's not street food prices, but the odds are way better than the 50/50 crap shoot that you might not be uh, shooting crap from food poisoning afterward, so if you saves your money you takes your chances).
One of the signature dishes there is Kaya Toast, noted as a hangover cure in Singapore (heck, read Feninger's own history of it, and gaze at the recipe). It's not something you'd dream up on your own, but the combo of toastiness, coconut jam sweetness, yolky gooeyness, and soy sauce saltiness (with a bit of bonus arugula pepper) is totally addictive, if nothing else.
The funniest thing, of course, is Fenninger got booted from Top Chef Masters last season (#2) for this dish, her restaurant's most popular. The judges weren't happy as it was too simple for a master to cook up. As if masterful cooking isn't often simplest--there's nowhere to hide that way.
Alas, she wasn't the only chef to get the boot for a signature dish. Jonathan Waxman, who has arguably made the most talked about chicken of the past 30 years, got kicked off the show for serving....Waxman's roast chicken. These judges, they've got no respect for the classics.
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