Chef David Chang has actually earned his reputation as one of the greats from NYC. That’s not always the case with hot shots. Tuesday night at Spring Hill restaurant his dishes buzzed with clarity, from quietly gingered silky noodles to wildly fresh and hot hot kimchee. Most of them are complicated – and delicious enough – that buying the cookbook is a must. As we ate, trying to figure out flavors in the food, many grabbed the cookbooks at the table to see what was really in that tasty meat or sauce. This is his own big-hearted, open throttle take on foods, riffing off of American and Asian favorites, but with a scientist’s precision and some what-are-those ingredients. A few of them I’ll have to special order, but I don’t care. His pork buns are some of the best things I’ve ever eaten. Now I have the recipe, so they will fill my life.
On top of all that food, Kim Ricketts really knows how to stoke a party, introducing strangers, joking and drawing diners over to schmooze the jolly, notorious chef, along with Spring Hill’s host/chef/ Mark Fuller (Food & Wine Best New Chef winner) and his wife Marjorie Chang Fuller, who’s a peach. Even better, Seattle Magazine sent me to cover it so my wallet was unscathed.
A few dishes we had:
- A sweet British Columbia sea scallop, shaved as thin as a rose petal, was folded into buttermilk that made your lips tingle just a little. You followed it with a sip of Stephen Ehlen ‘Erdener Treppchen” Riesling Kabinett (family owned since 1668) with apple, honey and lemon hits that polished up your senses for the next bite.
- Ginger scallion noodles were cleverly understated, so that you enjoyed them alone and then along with their powerful smoky/salty/sweet chicken wing buddies and a plate of slightly pickled vegetables.
- The Momofuku pork bun was unbelievably good. It looks sort of generic, but the pork belly, cucumber pickle, and hoisin made for rich, profound flavors followed by the pop of raw scallion at the finish, breaking up the unctuous log jam in your mouth. As my table finished theirs I started scanning for unattended scraps at neighboring tables (may I take your plate?). After the dinner the room, from Judy Amster to Maggie Savarino and Oyster Bill, was full of “… those mouth –boggling pork buns. How does he do that?”