When Howie Kleinberg decided to launch a series of pop-up dinners at his North Miami restaurant Bulldog Barbecue, his goal was to feature the international cuisine and flavors that he loves and to invite his favorite chefs to cook with him for a different trip around the globe each month.
The first pop-up will be this Monday, June 24, with Vince Tien, the former executive chef of The Local Craft Food & Drink and Alex Kuk, former general manager at Sushi Maki. The men combined forces to start Two Woks -- a pop-up dinner series around south Florida that serves traditional Chinese cuisine with some very modern twists.
The Bulldog Barbecue/Two Woks pop-up will feature an evening dedicated to Asian barbecue served family style, with each chef working on several of the six courses -- with a twist: Kleinberg will tackle traditional Chinese cuisine, while Tien will interpret Southern cooking.
Tien told Short Order that the inspiration behind some of the dishes planned for the dinner are childhood memories. "When my family first moved to Florida, my brother was dating a girl who lived in New Orleans. He would drive up to meet her and come back with crawfish and beignets. When I was planning the menu, I thought to myself what would work. It's summer and, to me, summer will always be about baseball, crawfish, and beer. Then, I remembered the beignets and incorporated them into the menu."
Tien, who was trained in French culinary arts, tries to "push the boundaries" of what people's perception of Chinese food is. "We use fresh ingredients, no MSG, and interesting flavors. I think people in general are used to Americanized Chinese cuisine and think that it's kind of unhealthy and cheap food. You know -- takeout food. But I want to change people's image. We're still using traditional flavors, but we want to use different techniques and make Chinese food sexy."
If you want to experience Tien and Kleinberg's sexy Chinese/Southern fusion barbeque, the Two Woks pop-up at Bulldog Barbecue is $50 per person (excluding tax and gratuity) and seatings start at 7 p.m. To reserve, call 305-940-9655. The menu includes:
Drunken crawfish with sweet corn, crispy fingerling potato, and Szechuan cocktail sauce (Two Woks)
Pot stickers with smoked pork shoulder, Gulf shrimp, scallion, ginger, and chili ponzu (Bulldog Barbecue)
Honey glazed red roast pork spareribs with "pickles n' slaw", and steamed buns (Bulldog Barbecue)
General's chicken and waffles - tea smoked Cornish hen with scallion waffle & Oolong tea maple syrup (TwoWoks)
Korean-style BBQ beef short rib with Asian pear kimchee, bibb lettuce, and gochujang (Bulldog Barbecue)
Hawaiian fried rice with ham, pineapple, fried egg, peas, carrots, onion, macadamia, and puffed rice (Bulldog Barbecue)
Coffee and doughnut - Chinese sausage beignet & Vietnamese coffee crème anglaise (TwoWoks)