January 27, 2016

Four dog night

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I'm not in the habit of throwing fits of tantrum.  At least, I'm not in the habit of doing it in public, in the hopes of getting my way.  I'm also the last person you'll hear using the phrase "DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?!", no matter how pissed off I might be at someone or a certain situation.  I very, very rarely throw my weight around, because I try not to overestimate my own importance.

But I was pretty pissed off at the staff from MO Bar two weeks ago, and I decided to publicly vent on social media - as I do once in a while about things that piss me off.  A couple of days later, I received an unexpected call from Chef Richard Ekkebus.  He found out about my rant and wanted to know what happened.  Of course he was very nice and apologetic about what had happened, and arranged to connect me with the manager of MO Bar - so that I could be assured of getting a reservation for the pop-up event.  I was ever so grateful for this kind arrangement.

We showed up at the MO Bar at 6pm tonight, and we led to the upstairs area in the back.  The Landmark Mandarin Oriental had made a serious effort to transform this part of MO Bar so that it resembles the original PDT (Please Don't Tell) in New York City - replete with the telephone book which acts as the hidden entrance to the speakeasy.

We were seated at one of three booths inside, which was VIP treatment indeed.  I had heard from a friend that there was a minimum spending requirement for booking a booth, and although we had not been advised of such requirement by the staff - and therefore assumed that we were not subject to this requirement - the two of us made an effort to get close to it.

In addition to the hotdogs that are normally served in New York City, four chefs around town were invited to create their special hotdogs specifically for this event.  I had already tried out one of them at lunch a couple of weeks ago, but we figured we'd go through all four of these tonight anyway.

Yarddog Hotbird, created by Matt Abergel from Yardbird - this was Hello Kitty's least favorite, but I liked the familiarity of the flavors.  The chicken hotdog franks were butterflied, coated in panko (パン粉) and deep-fried, then served with cooked cabbage, tonkatsu (とんかつ) sauce, and Japanese mayo.

I grew up loving tonkatsu in Tokyo, and so I liked the balancing act between the acidity of the tonkatsu sauce cutting into the creaminess of Kewpie mayo and the fatty and oily panko.  Very satisfying.

Demon Dog, created by Alvin Leung of Bo Innovation - of course anything Alvin does these days have to have the word "demon" in the name...  The pork frank was grilled and served on a youtiao (油條), then topped with pork chili con carne spiced with Sichuan peppers, smothered in melted Gouda.  Definitely very creative and not unexpected coming from Alvin.

I had read comments about the youtiao becoming soggy, but it wasn't all that bad.  I would have been even better had the youtiao been freshly made, but that's a pretty tall order...  However, the damn thing did fall apart pretty easily as I tried to take a bite, so it made things a little messy.

But I did like the flavors a lot, and enjoyed the spicy kick in the chili topping.

Banh Mi Trap Dog, created by Jowett Yu from Holy Fuck Ho Lee Fook - the beef frank was grilled, then served with chicken liver pâté, pickles, coriander, Sriracha mayo, and chopped chili.

Definitely reminiscent of a Vietnamese bánh mi, with the pickles, coriander, and those deadly chopped bird's eye chili peppers.  I didn't seem to taste any liver pâté, though...

The Frenchie, created by Richard Ekkebus of Landmark Mandarin Oriental - this was the one I had a couple of weeks ago.  Deep-fried chicken frank resting on shredded cabbage in a black squid ink bun, with smoked bacon, onion, melted Ossau Iraty, and a generous sprinkle of black winter truffle on top.

I think melted cheese and black truffle is a sure fire way to success, and it certainly became Hello Kitty's favorite.

For many, the real attraction of the pop-up, though, were the cocktails.  The barmen / mixologists were pretty heavy-handed here, so I ended up getting a nice buzz...

Top Toddy - I couldn't for the life of me taste any genmaicha (玄米茶), because the alcohol from the Ketel One and the strong flavors from the Talisker 10 year simply managed to overpower anything else.

Lucky Plum - I really loved this drink, because it was extremely citrusy and fragrant, but didn't taste as sweet as the name suggested - thanks to the Campari.  Loved the little kumquat.

Togarashi and Tonic - definitely reminded me of a (not frozen) margarita, but the shichimi togarashi (七味唐辛子) powder and salt - along with some cilantro - on the rim made it really exotic and interesting.

A very enjoyable evening, and I'm glad we had the opportunity to come and check this out.  Many thanks to Richard and Nick for the arrangement, and thanks to Richard for comping us three of the hotdogs.  I made sure that I left a fat tip to make up for the difference.

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