Best New Restaurants: No. 2 – Vista Ramen
A glimpse through the large windows at Vista Ramen reveals a slim restaurant filled with smartly dressed young people sipping sake and slurping ramen, bathed in the green glow of that iconic neon sign. This is where the cool kids eat.
The centerpiece is the open kitchen where co-owner and chef Chris Bork transmutes Vista’s chic style from the space to the plates. Bork interprets classic Asian dishes or finds inspiration entirely elsewhere, letting ingredients take the lead. While it’s easy to love something like sticky pork ribs glazed with crab caramel, it’s the attention paid to humble vegetables that sets Vista apart.
Bork is a standard bearer for seasonality, allowing vegetables to express themselves fully on the plate. Take, for example, his raw vegetable salad: Julienned Japanese turnips, carrots, radishes and kohlrabi are tossed with maple vinaigrette, lychee and house-made Chinese bacon and topped with popped sorghum.
Despite the complex, dynamic flavors, Bork’s methods don’t require expensive equipment or extravagant technique. “The treatment is very simple: Don’t fucking cook them to mush,” he said. “Being able to cook a specific vegetable to its right al dente is something that takes time and a lot of finesse. Blanching vegetables properly is an art that I wish more cooks took seriously.”
Vista’s veggie ramen best exemplifies this perfected technique. Vegetables of the moment (turnips, shiitakes, kohlrabi and so on) are individually blanched, then roasted on the flattop to order. Each vegetable retains its identity while swimming with tender alkaline noodles in a rich broth that coats every piece in meat-free umami glory.
After the last summer tomato disappears, it’s easy to give into seasonal despair in an endless parade of roasted root vegetables. Not at Vista. House-made agnolotti are filled with rich miso-pumpkin puree. Butternut squash finds its way into dessert as a delicate panna cotta sprinkled with buttery granola and topped with spheres of poached pear. For this kind of invention, we’ll gladly weather bitter temps and crowds of hipsters to indulge at Vista Ramen.
2609 Cherokee St., St. Louis, 314.797.8250, vistaramen.com
Editor's note: In the print issue, we misspelled Vista Ramen's name. We have updated this post and the online issue to correct the error.
Tags : Best New Restaurants
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