Fork Fight Round 2: Kitchen LTO versus Chino Chinatown
The gloves came on at last night's Fork Fight, round two of a friendly competition among restaurants at Trinity Groves. Chef Uno Immanivong was decked out in head-to-toe pink, including a pair of hot pink boxing gloves. She was ready for a fight. The folks from Kitchen LTO, including crowd-sourced chef Norman Grimm and concept creator Casie Caldwell, portrayed a much more quiet confidence, but the room was packed with fans of both upcoming restaurants. And by packed, I mean there were 200 diners squeezed into the space at 3015 at Trinity Groves. Once again, the event was emceed by Mark "Razinsky" Brezinski (my bad, Mark), and the contenders were geared up to serve everyone four courses each.
foodbitch The packed house at Trinity Groves last night foodbitch Yellowtail apps being plated for the first course
Despite a few more folks than they'd planned on, there weren't as many hiccups as one might expect. A little missing sticky rice here, a few desserts short there, but everyone had a great time, thanks in part to specialty cocktails, beer, wine and fancy teas served the entire time.
In my semi-pro opinion, I'd say the two contenders pretty well tied. Both had standout bites and there was much debate in the house. It was the perfect recipe for a knock-down, drag-out fight. Have a look at all four courses before I tell you who won.
foodbitch Course one: Kitchen LTO's yellowfin tuna tartare with tamari glaze, Asian pear, avocado and fingerlimes versus Chino's duck confit tamale with roasted heirloom tomato salsa and crispy duck chip foodbitch Course two: Chino's butter-poached lobster spring roll with pineapple habanero dressing versus Kitchen LTO's sake-glazed pork belly atop apple puree with a watermelon-tequila intermezzo foodbitch Course three: Kitchen LTO's braised short rib with seasonal vegetables and braised marble potatoes versus Chino's Mexican Coke and lemongrass braised short rib with grilled bok choy foodbitch Course four: Kitchen LTO's crème fraîche sorbet with balsamic reduction, strawberries and black pepper versus Chino's piña colada cake with salted coconut rum caramel
In the end, Team Chino won the fight. Like I said, I thought the competition was very close. Most folks commented that courses one and two went to LTO, but Chino's melt-in-your-mouth short rib beat out the much less exciting one from LTO. Once folks saw that LTO's mostly melted dessert couldn't stand up to the cute little cakes doled out by Chino, the match was pretty much over.