Taste of Asia 2014: Huaiyang cuisine cook off! | I just want to eat!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Taste of Asia 2014: Huaiyang cuisine cook off!

image of Taste of Asia 2014 in Times Square

I was recently invited by the Epoch Times to attend the final cook off of Taste Of Asia, a collaborative project between the Epoch Times and New Tang Dynasty (NTD) Television part of a celebration of Asian Restaurant Month. During that month, several famous Asian restaurants in New York such as Junoon, Kittichai or Prime & Beyond, offer a prix-fixe menu or special deals. 
image of Taste of Asia 2014 in Times Square

So you understand what the invited part means, let me explain: this is a free event, open to everybody, where you can attend some of the workshops to learn, for example, how to make Chinese and Korean hand-pulled noodles, mochi or dumplings (in fact there was even a dumpling eating contest).

You will also find many booths proposing Asian cuisine, such as Nyonya, a Malaysian restaurant.
image of Nyonya Malaysian restaurant in New York, NY

I have tried their chicken curry with pickled vegetables and it was fantastic, a bit spicy, but so good, the pickles adding a refreshing part to the dish.
image of chicken curry in Nyonya Malaysian restaurant in New York, NY

Nyonya
199 Grand St
New York, NY 10013

No, the most important part of the invitation was the possibility to try some of the dishes that the Chefs were cooking during the cook off. So it all started when our hosts presented the Chefs:

image of Kean Wong and Jenny at Taste of Asia 2014: Huaiyang cuisine cook off

On the left is Kean Wong, host at NTD Television and producer of the movie Free China, The Courage to Believe. On the left, Jenny,  anchor of Global Watch and also the Hostess of Time with Fang Fei on NTD Television.

First was Chef Ueda Tadayoshi from Japan:
image of Chef Ueda Tadayoshi at Taste of Asia 2014: Huaiyang cuisine cook off

Chef Tong Yuncai from the US:
image of Chef Tong Yuncai at Taste of Asia 2014: Huaiyang cuisine cook off

Chef Zhang Jun from Germany:
image of Chef Zhang Jun at Taste of Asia 2014: Huaiyang cuisine cook off

The jury was composed of Chefs as well as Akiko Katayama, a food writer that you may have seen as a guest judge on Iron Chef America on the Food Network.
image of Jury at Taste of Asia 2014: Huaiyang cuisine cook off

The Chefs had 45 minutes to cook dishes inspired from the Huaiyang cuisine, known for its delicate taste and demand on technique. I got to sample three of them:

Braised dried tofu shred from Chef Ueda Tadayoshi from Japan:
image of braised dried tofu shred at Taste of Asia 2014: Huaiyang cuisine cook off

Similar dish from Chef Tong Yuncai from the US, but with shrimp:
image of braised dried tofu shred at Taste of Asia 2014: Huaiyang cuisine cook off

Based on the taste, I believe that the shrimp were dried, having a bit of a fishy taste. I definitely preferred the first one from Chef Ueda Tadayoshi.

The next dish I tried was sweet and sour swordfish from Chef Ueda Tadayoshi:
image of sweet and sour swordfish at Taste of Asia 2014: Huaiyang cuisine cook off

The bright color of the dish was spectacular, as was the dish, that had a nice sweetness and crispiness also; the only negative being the bones...

I did not try any other dishes, but was waiting for the judges to declare the winner. First, each of the contestants had to face the jury:
image of jury and contestant at Taste of Asia 2014: Huaiyang cuisine cook off
Chef Ueda Tadayoshi (Japan) and the jury
image of jury and contestant at Taste of Asia 2014: Huaiyang cuisine cook off
Chef Tong Yuncai (US) and the Jury
image of jury and contestant at Taste of Asia 2014: Huaiyang cuisine cook off
Chef Zhang Jun (Germany) and the Jury
I am sure the Chefs were impatient to know the result, so was the audience. Few minutes after deliberation, it was time to discover whose cuisine reigned supreme. But it was not announced like that, after reading the name of the winner on the microphone.
image of deliberation at Taste of Asia 2014: Huaiyang cuisine cook off

It was written in Shūfǎ or Chinese calligraphy.
image of deliberation at Taste of Asia 2014: Huaiyang cuisine cook off

And the winner was:
image of Chef Ueda Tadayoshi (Japan) at Taste of Asia 2014: Huaiyang cuisine cook off
Chef Ueda Tadayoshi (Japan)
image of Chefs at Taste of Asia 2014: Huaiyang cuisine cook off
Second was Chef Tong Yuncai (US) and third, Chef Zhang Jun (Germany)
It was great to see the competition and try some of the dishes (I am glad I liked the one from the winner, Chef Ueda Tadayoshi). I think this event is a perfect way to learn few things about Asian cuisine. Thank you to The Epoch Times for giving me the opportunity to attend!

Enjoy (I did)!

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And Remember: I Just Want To Eat!
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