In the kitchen, Forbes Travel Guide Tastemaker Ming Tsai’s skills are well choreographed. But how do the chef’s moves measure up when it comes to karaoke? We’ll find out Friday night at his rollicking New York City Wine & Food Festival event. As Tsai gears up for the festival — and a duet with Iron Chef’s Masaharu Morimoto — he answers our questions about his new restaurant, his can’t-miss New York City sushi spot and what to expect tomorrow evening.
NYC is the epicenter of the food industry. Being able to offer the premier event in the best food city is, in my mind, a slam-dunk!
Are there any NYCWFF strategies you would recommend to first-timers?
Pace yourself! There’s a lot to both eat and drink.
Your late-night Rockin’ Dumplings and Rollin’ Sushi event with chef Morimoto is an annual favorite. What can we expect this year and what will you be serving?
I think the best party is with Morimoto. It starts late and ends late. And where else do you get to hear the two of us sing?
We’ll be serving these handmade pork wontons in a killer ginger-scallion ma-la oil mixture. Ma-la is Chinese for “mouth-numbing.” Small bites packed with big flavor!
Rockin’ Dumplings and Rollin’ Sushi involves karaoke, and where there’s karaoke, there must be drinks. What’s on tap this year?
We’ll be featuring two incredible cocktails — the most delicious saketini and a new creation, the Double Dragon Sunrise.
You were recently named the culinary ambassador for Double Cross Vodka. Do you have any suggestions for incorporating it into dishes, pairing it with food or mixing a killer cocktail?
I think it’s the best, cleanest tasting vodka out there. With cocktails, it pairs incredibly with any fresh juices or mixers to really make the flavors shine. Ditto for food, [it] never overpowers. Just like lemon juice or salt, it really enhances the overall balance of the dish.
Do you have any favorite New York City spots you’ll definitely try to stop by while you’re in town?
Blue Ribbon Sushi.
Eight months after opening Blue Dragon in Boston, how would you say the experience has been different from opening and running Blue Ginger in Wellesley, Mass.?
I thought opening Blue Dragon would be twice as easy given my prior experience. Man was I wrong. With the opening of Blue Ginger, I had nothing else on my plate — no books [Blue Ginger: East Meets West Cooking with Ming Tsai and Simply Ming in Your Kitchen: 80 Recipes to Watch, Learn, Cook & Enjoy], no TV show [Simply Ming], no children. Now add all that to Blue Dragon (and the running of Blue Ginger!). Clearly, could not have done it without my executive chef Tom Woods or general manager Sarah Livesey. Both were trusted longtime Blue Ginger team members who were ready to make the leap. So incredibly glad I did it. Almost kicking myself asking why it took 15 years!
You know the best parts of opening Blue Dragon? I get to introduce a new taste experience to Boston (Asian gastropub), see more of my downtown Boston friends and be re-energized — reminding me of how I love opening restaurants.
Photo Courtesy of Anthony Tieuli