Giada, Guy, Bobby and friends are sounding off on the favorite things they've eaten -- EVER, EVER -- on a new Food Network special called "The Best Thing I Ever Ate." This week's episodes are about fried food and BBQ.
So it got us thinking... What unmatched edible memories made a lasting impression on our local cheffies? We asked, and they delivered! Here's the first in a plethora of gastranecdotes from our hometown kitchen heroes.
Michelle Bernstein, chef/owner Michy's and Sra. Martinez
I have always loved tempura, eating and preparing it equally, thinking I was actually consuming the "real thing." Imagine my surprise when my husband and I went to Tokyo last year and the true art of tempura smacked me in the face like a wet noodle. We were sent by a chef friend to Asagi in Ginza, a beautiful area filled with shopping and great eats. To this super popular and very hard to get into restaurant. There might have been as many as 8 seats at the Tempura "bar," which faced the chef. He was in front of an old but pristine small pot of hot oil, holding a small spider (a kitchen utensil used for picking up food delicately from hot oil); his dad was peeling the shrimp and handing it to his assistant to further perfect then handed it to the chef to fry. His grandfather's picture was hanging on the wall beside him; obviously this restaurant had been in the family for generations. They worked in unison, only frying 4 pieces of deliciousness at a time, never filling the pan with too much product, never looking up other than to make sure we were finished to move on to the next adventure. We ordered the degusation menu and started our journey. Taste after taste, the meal intensified. We ate fried fish filet, fried fish spines, fried shrimp and calamari. Then the vegetables, absolutely greaseless, oh so crunchy but delicate. Every bite made me hungrier. It was the most expensive tempura we have ever experienced but I would pay 5 times more for just another bit of that perfection.