The 65-seat restaurant offers guests a casual and comfortable, yet elevated, dining experience, showcasing Asian-American fare reflective of the distinct cultural and culinary experiences of Executive Chef/Partner Dale Talde. The website describes: "A native of Chicago, raised by first-generation Filipino immigrants, Chef Talde effortlessly blends the tastes, ingredients and nuances of a wide swath of Eastern and Western cuisines and techniques. The result is a menu that explores new, and at times unexpected, combinations of flavors."
The only downside is that you feel the direct heat from the kitchen, which can get uncomfortable at times. I was also worried we may not have the same attention from a server as we would had we been seated at a regular table, however, that was no issue at all. We had looked over the menu before we arrived and were overly excited to try as many dishes as we could. They all sounded great - and were a fun play on traditional Asian dishes fused together and crossing cultural lines. For example, we started with the Pretzel Pork & Chive Dumplings. Served with a spicy mustard, the outer "shell" of the dumplings were made with pretzel dough and sprinkled with salt that when dipped in the mustard, I literally started laughing after my first bite. "Why are you laughing?," Keith asked. "Because this is hilariously so good, " I answer. He then took a bite and exclaimed, "Holy expletive!" What else can I say but it was delicious. The filling inside was very flavorful and the dumplings were as if a Korean mandu and German pretzel had a child. Genius!
After polishing that plate, we shared the Hawaiian Bread Buns. This trio of sliders featured Filipino pork sausage, crispy fluke, and shiitake mushroom, each on a sweet Hawaiian roll with garlic vinegar mayo and pickled shallots. I only took a small bite of the Filipino sausage and while it had a different and intriguing flavor, it was too greasy for me. I really enjoyed the fish and mushroom sliders though. Keith commented that he would have preferred if each slider had its own different sauce, but I didn't mind the garlic mayo as it was super tasty.
Next, arrived the Lobster Tom Kha. I am a huge fan of this spicy Thai soup made with coconut milk and even tried to make my own version at home. Chef Talde's preparation came with rice noodles, sweet chunks of lobster, fresh corn, bean sprouts, and sliced boiled potatoes. The bowl was pretty generous and more than enough for two people to share. The soup had a little more spice than I would usually like, but the coconut milk mellowed it out enough for me that I slurped up the very last drop. Keith also easily drank up the soup and this dish remains one of the most memorable from the evening.
While I finished off the soup (read: licked the bowl), Keith enjoyed the Wok Charred Black Angus Ribeye. It had a black pepper caramel sauce and lots of holy basil that added a bright flavor. The meat was perfectly cooked medium-rare, something not typical in a Chinese-style dish such as this. To accompany the "main dishes" we ordered the Shrimp Egg Foo Yung Fried Rice and the #369 daily vegetable, which was asparagus. We mainly ordered the rice dish since the name implied another fusion of egg foo yung plus fried rice. However, a large bowl of mostly fried rice arrived - no "egg foo yung-ness" (no gravy), and barely any shrimp. We dug through the bowl and only found one shrimp that was cut into three pieces. While the rice was cooked well, it was a bit disappointing compared to the other items we enjoyed already. The asparagus was fresh and crispy, with a spicy sauce on top made from seafood broth, chili peppers, and hazelnuts that added an interesting dimension to the vegetable. But the asparagus was cooked in way too much peanut oil leaving a greasy mess. Mixing the asparagus with the fried rice tasted good and we decided to take whatever was left of those two dishes home.
We were totally stuffed, but I overheard the server telling another couple the dessert offerings. Did I hear him say halo halo!?! Halo Halo is a wacky Filipino dessert similar to the Korean bing soo. I first learned of this Filipino dessert from a recent episode of Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown: Koreatown. While in Los Angeles to check out the wonderful food offerings of Koreatown, Chef Roy Choi somehow ends up taking Tony to a Filipino fast food chain that offers this "sundae" made of shaved ice, condensed milk, beans, leche flan, purple yams, tapioca, plantains, coconut, more fruit and topped with ice cream. Having grown up in Hawaii where the Filipino culture is quite prevalent, I was quite shocked that I was unfamiliar with this treat and it has been on my foodie bucket list ever since I saw that episode. Chef Talde's version is topped with Cap’n Crunch cereal (what!? yes!), coconut jellies, pineapple jellies, fresh banana slices, mango puree, and tapioca pearls. It was cold, odd, sweet, and confusing to the mouth as both the temperature and textures fluctuate with each bite. It was the perfect way to end our Asian-fusion meal at TALDE. We have been to a couple other Top Chef restaurants before, but to date, TALDE is the most unique and fun and provided us with a memorable meal in Brooklyn.
Total Rating: 4.48
Food: 5, Price: 4, Service: 4, Ambience: 3.5, Accessibility: 3.5
What I ate:
♥Pretzel Pork & Chive Dumplings♥
with spicy mustard
Hawaiian Bread Buns
(Filipino Pork Sausage, Crispy Fluke, Shiitake Mushroom)
all with garlic vinegar mayo and pickled shallots
♥Lobster Tom Kha♥
coconut milk, rice noodles, corn
Shrimp Egg Foo Yung Fried Rice
shaved ice with sweetened condensed milk, topped with Cap’n Crunch,
coconut, pineapple, bananas, mango, tapioca pearls
Plus Keith ate:
Wok Charred Black Angus Ribeye
black pepper caramel, holy basil