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Dec 14, 2017
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Posts Tagged ‘Tai Ke’

Extra Sauce: Top 5 Dishes of 2016

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

Sauce restaurant critic Michael Renner has tasted his fair share of St. Louis cuisine. All year, he shared his thoughts on New and Notable restaurants. Here, he shares his top five dishes of 2016:

 

5. Hakka Stir Fry at Tai Ke
In a single mouthful, this Taiwanese dish, consisting of matchstick slivers of pork, squid and dried tofu tossed with celery and garlic, managed to defy simplicity with a brilliant concatenation of complex flavors and textures.

 

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4. Brodetto at Parigi
This tomato-based fish stew was a picture-perfect bowl of snow-white fish, clams, mussels and head-on shrimp in a broth redolent with red wine vinegar and lemon zest. I did not come up for air until each shell was picked clean and every drop of intoxicating broth was sopped up with yeasty, crusty bread.

3. Potpie at Olive & Oak
Puncturing the buttery, flakey robe of crust revealed a treasure of mushrooms, kale, butternut squash and cauliflower through puffs of fragrant steam. The earthy roasted leek gravy proved that not every potpie requires chicken or beef.

 

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2. Vegetable Ramen at Vista Ramen
My veggie ramen at Vista was chock-full of cauliflower, shiitake mushrooms and carrots, though yours may vary. What won’t change is the broth’s deep, funky umami, so rich it seems like a liqueur.

 

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And the No. 1 Dish of the Year…
Catfish Po’ Boy Steamed Bun at Kounter Kulture
A dark-hued, crackling fried coating framed the natural succulence and fresh taste of catfish, all topped with an unforgettable sprinkle of spicy togarashi and douse of creamy shishito pepper-cherry tomato remoulade.

Parigi and Vista Ramen photos by Jonathan Gayman

Related Content
10 Best New Restaurants of 2016

New & Notable: Kounter Kulture

Extra Sauce: Top 5 Dishes of 2015

 

 

Hit List: 5 new restaurants you must try this month

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

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1. Union Loafers Cafe and Bread Bakery: 1629 Tower Grove Ave., St. Louis, 314.833.6111,
unionloafers.com

After years of planning, renovating and baking, Ted Wilson and Sean Netzer have opened the highly anticipated Union Loafers in Botanical Heights. The cafe and bakery serves a small, rotating lunch menu of sandwiches, soups and salads along with artisanal loaves. Bite into the roasted pork sandwich, their take on a Cuban made with roast pork, country ham, Gruyere and house-made pickles piled high on Loafers’ ciabatta with house-made mustard and mayonnaise. Or try the smoked beet sandwich, also on ciabatta, which marries ruby sliced beets with Emmenthal cheese, hard-boiled egg, house-fermented sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing. The real dark horse is a delectable nut butter and house-made jam sandwich (almond butter and raspberry jam during our visit) on buttered Light & Mild country loaf; it’s a childhood staple all grown up. Go green with a Little Gem Salad tossed with house buttermilk dressing, pickled shallots, fine herbs and sourdough breadcrumbs, and don’t forget to pick up a full or half-loaf on your way out to savor artisanal bread all week long.

 

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2. Retreat Gastropub: 2 N. Sarah St., St. Louis, 314.261.4497, retreatgastropub.com

Lace up your boots and hike over to Retreat Gastropub in the Central West End for elevated pub food. Grab a seat at the concrete bar or cedar tables and benches lining the interior and tuck in to the substantial poutine with fried fingerling potatoes and cheese curds bathed in a rich mushroom demi-glace. Though you may want to inhale all the gravy-soaked goodness, leave room for the Farmhouse Burger. Two smashed beef patties topped with house-made cheese sauce, candied bacon and a sunny egg, served on an English muffin-like bun from Companion. Be sure to grab a drink at the bar, which serves up a creative cocktail menu embroidered with house-made tinctures and shrubs. You can’t go wrong with the Fort Collins, a lively concoction of Bulldog gin, grapefruit and lemon juices, Amaro Averna, IPA syrup, a black pepper tincture and house vermouth.

 

3. Tai Ke: 8604 Olive Blvd., University City, 314.801.8894

You don’t have to be an expert on Taiwanese cuisine to enjoy an authentic meal at Tai Ke. Start with an array of small plates, which are billed as side dishes and Taiwanese snacks. We swooned over the downy bao bun that holds a sliver of flavorful pork belly, and we devoured the link of red sausage on a curved bed of sticky rice that looks like a Taiwanese hot dog. Tai Ke also handles beef with aplomb – it’s incredibly tender in both the beef noodle soup (where you can cut your meat with a spoon), and spiced up with generous hits of black pepper in the sizzling beef entree over rice.

 

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4. Robata of Maplewood: 7260 Manchester Road, Maplewood, 314.899.9595, robatamaplewood.com

Robata is the first of several anticipated ramen restaurants to open its doors in the St. Louis area. But before you slurp, peruse the numerous yakitori options and share the grilled shishito peppers, pork belly or bacon-wrapped enoki mushrooms, all skewered and grilled to order. An array of sushi is available, too (Robata’s owners ran the now-shuttered Sekisui). The main event, though, is the ramen, which can be customized with a variety of noodle choices, broths and garnishes. We sunk our spoons into regular-cut noodles swimming in tonkotsu-style ramen, featuring rich pork broth topped with roast pork, green onions, a boiled egg, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, pickled ginger and wood-ear mushrooms.

 

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5. Byrd & Barrel: 3422 S. Jefferson Ave., St. Louis, 314.875.9998, Facebook: Byrd & Barrel

Byrd & Barrel has come home to roost on Jefferson Avenue. This new South City eatery serves up pressure-fried chicken and indulgent fare. Choose from one of 50 canned beers and start your meal with the South Side Poutine: house-made tater tots coated in shreds of smoked chicken, mellow cheese curds and a choice of smoked mushroom or chicken gravy. Order a few juicy wings to share, but save room for the over-the-top Mother Clucker sandwich that piles a fried boneless thigh with caramelized onions, spicy pepper jelly, house-made Provel “Cheez-whiz” and Red Hot Riplets. If you manage to save room for a side, don’t miss the creamy Provel mac-n-cheese.

 

-photos by Michelle Volansky and Meera Nagarajan

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