Sunday, February 15, 2009


“Tempura fried-braised short ribs?”, I asked our waiter Steve skeptically. Steve then proceeded to launch into an overly enthusiastic recommendation of the menu item citing that you just couldn’t go wrong with this – a comfort food dish made extreme by battering it up in tempura and deep frying it. Mmmm…deep-fried braised meat? Is that like a deep fried snicker’s bar?

I would call the menu at Wahso contemporary, eclectic pan-Asian. You glance down at the menu items and see influences from Thailand, Indonesia, Korea, China, and Japan. The menu immediately grabs your attention with appetizers and salads with interesting ingredients such as chiles, curries, and exotic fruit. As you look around the restaurant, the pan-Asian décor matches the pan-Asian menu. The space seems quite chic with table tops scattered between two sizable floors. Private booths separable by drape partitions are also available for an intimate dining experience. However, the walls are decorated with various items bordering the gawdy like dragons, fans, buddhas, and time-piece memorabilia from different countries. At first glance you might find these elegant but after spending a couple of hours staring at the walls, they become cheap-looking – almost like being in a pan-Asian themed TGIFs whose walls are decorated in an excess of “flair”.

We started our meal off with an amuse bouche compliments of the chef : a cracker topped with an Indian-inspired carrot slaw. The amuse was quite lovely having a mild curry flavor and slightly creamy texture, along with some crunch provided by the carrots and crackers - a delightful way to start off the night. We continued our meal with two appetizers: Spicy Malaysian Potstickers served over pickled cucumber and a pureed Tomato and Coconut soup. The potstickers were sticky with a crunchy exterior. Biting into a potsticker ignited an explosion in my mouth. Spicy, sticky, savory, sweet, crunchy…made ever so amazing by the tartness you got from the pickled cucumber. Talk about comfort. I started forgetting about the gawdy décor and focused in on the food. Unfortunately, the soup, however, left something to be desired. Simply put, the soup tasted like tomato paste with a little bit of coconut milk. It did have a nice coconut flavor, but the tomato background was overpoweringly heavy and a touch too sweet. Don’t get me wrong; it wasn’t that offensive - but after the succulence of the potstickers, I wanted my palate to be taken to a new place. All I got after eating the soup was a big, fat slap in the face saying, “You’re still in Utah bitch!”

Excitement silenced the table when our entrees arrived. We tasted between two items: the Korean BBQ Salmon and, of course, the Tempura Kobe Short Ribs. The plating on the salmon dish was just beautiful. A shallow pool of a yellow-pepper coulis coated the bottom of the plate, above which was a ring-mold of black forbidden rice topped off with a ginger-braised spinach - which in turn, held up a thick slice of salmon fillet. The salmon had a nice crust on top and was cooked perfectly. Every bite melted in your mouth like butter and the subtle savory elements of soy and sesame within the salmon paired well with the accoutrements. The spinach had a nice creamy consistency and it was topped with crushed walnuts for some crunch. I could barely taste the ginger in it, but somehow I think it better that way. The black rice was visually stunning. It was seemingly tasteless but the presentation it added was great. Even the yellow-pepper coulis had a very mild curry flavor. But it all worked beautifully together – elevating the star of the dish…the salmon…to new heights.

And what of the deep-friend short ribs? Well to be honest it was a neat concept but the execution wasn’t perfect. I found the plating a little boring and off-center. The food was plated all in one quadrant of the plate, which I found off putting. I’m wondering if it just slid to the side when the waiter was walking over from the kitchen to our table? Moreover, the meat was a beige/brown color and it was served with mushrooms and sautéed potatoes, alongside a creamy wasabi spinach. The food was all so very dark. To me, a splash of color would've made the food pop. Instead, it sort of just sat there looking lifeless. Not surprisingly though, the food was quite good once we dug into it. The flavor combinations were similar to the salmon in the sense that the co-starring side dishes played second fiddle to the savory ribs. The ribs were good, but I didn’t find them to be quite as stunning as I had hoped. The tempura wasn’t as crisp as it could have been, leading to a slightly doughy effect on top of the braised beef. The beef itself was lovely…obviously the chef had put in many hours treating this beef with love. But considering the anticipation of this dish, it was a slight disappointment.

We finished our meal with a sample course of chocolate. A creamy hot chocolate, a chocolate-orange tart, dark chocolate truffle, a macaroon, and crème brulee. All miniature in size. The desserts were good but nothing too surprising. Apparently the pan-Asian theme flew out the window with this course. No hint of curry or coconut or any interesting Asian-inspired notes in dessert. No mochi, no custards or red-bean cakes, not even green tea ice cream. Oh wait…but two chocolate covered fortune cookies came out with the bill. That’s like Asian isn’t it?

Wahso ~ Park City, Utah
Executive Chef: Chris Griffin

Wahso on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. Your first posts just appeared on Urbanspoon! (The rest will follow in a few days once one of us can verify them.) Check it out:

    You can also add a picture for your blog. This blog photo shows up next to your posts wherever they appear on Urbanspoon. Just head on over to your blog page on Urbanspoon to claim it:

    You'll find some interesting badges and widgets there. Let me know if you have any questions.