It may have foreshadowed the wisdom of today at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Rue du Congrès when poet and playwright Oscar Wilde wrote in 1895: “Expecting the unexpected shows an all-round intellect. modern fact. ”
Guided by the Wildean spirit, you should heed these words on your next visit to OBON where a new seasonal menu, featuring “perfect examples of the unexpected” has been revealed.
I tapped into Paulo Im d’OBON’s modern intellect last week to learn more about this story that goes beyond his traditional sushi, steamed buns, and ramen staples. After only a few minutes with him, I can honestly say that his new dishes definitely defy expectations.
“What I did to create this new menu was fall into different burrows of food that I really love to eat,” said Im, Brand Manager and Director of Culinary Innovation at OBON, 350 E. Congress Street. “This is something that the change in management of our restaurant has welcomed and encouraged in an environment where I previously felt locked in,” he said. “I’m not saying our new dishes are better, I would just say they’re just more authentic.”
The son of Korean immigrants, Im tells me that “my sensitivity to my roots is a reflection of the food I create”, and that sentiment anchors the restaurant’s new menu, whether it’s an appetizer, a main course. or, get ready, a salad.
Im’s top dish is sea bream mala, a rich, flaky white fish served with savory and savory scallion pancakes and highly acidic dressed vegetables. He was inspired by his long-standing passion for butchering fish, as well as what he calls the ‘nose to tail manifesto’ writings of Josh Niland, an Australian chef and author who ‘tackles the butchery of fish from an unconventional standard and changed the whole pattern of what I think of fish.
This whole fish is made in such a way that it is eaten, as I say, without interruption, without bones or thorns while still being beautiful to look at. It is served with a crunchy homemade chili composed of a symphony of whole spices ground on the spot, including cardamom, star anise, Sichuan peppercorns, fennel, coriander, cumin, white pepper and cinnamon.
In addition to my new knowledge of fish butchery, another unexpected development in my conversation with Im was his reference to salads as symbols of this authenticity.
“To me, our new salads reflect what it means to be a Korean American,” he said. “It’s a title that I haven’t worn well all my life, but it’s something that I recently adopted.”
One example is the rotating Korean seasonal salad. The current phrase includes plump chunks of ripe persimmon, which I think require a knife and fork, as well as whipped silken tofu with burrata cheese, red romaine lettuce, pine nuts, cinnamon and Korean marmalade.
“Some of these flavors are generally not equated with Korean cuisine, but if you were to visit Korea in the fall and have a Korean barbecue dinner, you would absolutely observe them,” he said.
A salad that requires both a knife and a fork? Talk about the unexpected.
Other decidedly different dishes on the menu include the mackerel toast, with seared mackerel, tapenade, tomato, pickled red onions, tofu burrata and cracked pepper, and an updated version of the Crispy Tuna appetizer, with tuna tartare. spicy served with blocks of crisp, deep fried sushi rice.
I think you will notice the difference OBON makes downtown. When Chef Paulo Im is involved, you should expect it.
Contact Matt Russell, whose day job is CEO of Russell Public Communications, at [email protected]. Russell is also the editor of OnTheMenuLive.com as well as the host of the Friday Weekend Watch segment on the “Buckmaster Show” on KVOI 1030 AM.