Monthly Archives: December 2010

Sapa–Ancient and Modern Asian Fusion

On State Street and 722 South in Salt Lake City, you will find something that looks like it was transported from a century that SLC had no part in. Nonetheless, there sit ancient houses from Vietnam that are over 300 years old. It is a corner of the city that looks and feels as though an ancient Asian market town got lost somewhere in the universe and then eneded up in the land of Zion.

But don’t worry, this beautiful and delicately old strip of State Street is just another one of the amazing restaurants that Salt Lake City has to offer, Sapa. On the inside and out, Sapa has really outdone itself in regards to creating a certain “feel.” Bringing together ancient and modern decor is difficult, but I think that Sapa pulls it off beautifully. However, just like a beautiful bottle doesn’t always mean the wine is tasty– a restaurant that has the decor down, doesn’t mean the food is good.

But, it was. It REALLY was.

Our server, Justin, was pretty great. My friends and I are definitely a group who will take suggestions if they are given. When we asked Justin for a few suggestions, he didn’t hesitate. “Jalapeno Bomb!!” he cried!! You will love it!”. Oh, and he was oh so right. This was probably my favorite dish of the evening. For $7.50 you get jalapeños stuffed w/ cream cheese & spicy tempura tuna served w/ spicy trio sauce. Oh. Em. Gee. Please order this tasty appetizer when you eat at Sapa–that is a Nosh Maven order!

Also, among the other appetizers that we tried were Miso Soup (always gotta check that out) and the Gyoza. The Miso Soup was great–adding mushrooms to a traditional favorite. The Gyoza was…well, interesting. Not in a bad way, but different. While the discription on the menu was to be expected (freshly made, steamed & pan seared dumplings w/ pork, chives, vegetables served w/ homemade ponzu sauce), there was definitely some cinnamon and/or nutmeg flavor that had been added to the meat. Was it good? Sure. Was it what I was expecting? Nope. I didn’t love them as much as a traditional Gyoza dish, but they weren’t bad.

Then, there was the sushi. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew that Sapa served sushi, but they seemed more of a main dish type of restaurant–and you never know what you are going to get with those. However, the sushi was fresh, beautiful, colorful, and amazingly tasty. The two rolls of the evening: The Snow White (tempura shrimp, avocado & cucumber topped w/ scallion, fried onion & seared escolar) and the Black Magic (crispy rice topped w/ spicy tuna, scallion, masago & black pepper sauce on cucumber). Both rang in at $12 and both were awesome.

The main entrees of the evening did not disappoint either. The Coriander Seabass (pan seared Chilean sea bass seasoned w/ a house blend of Chinese 5 spice served over forbidden rice, sesame seed spinach and house made ponzu) was excellent. The fish was a smidge undercooked, but not enough to bother me–although some other guests at the table mentioned it. This dish will cost you $20, but it is quite worth the bill. It was so beautiful, I couldn’t stop photographing it. The sidedish of “forbidden” rice was awesome–the brown rice was much more texurized than the white, adding a really lovely mix of soft white rice and more grainy brown rice. The coriander was definitely present as well, which I loved.

And of course, a few noodle dishes were a must. Justin recommended the Drunken Noodles (flat rice noodles stir-fried w/ basil, garlic, tomato, sake & chili tofu paste), which were ordered with beef and we also ordered the Sapa Noodles (rice noodles stir-fried w/ egg, bean sprouts & green onion served w/ lime & peanuts) with Shrimp. Both were great, but the Drunken Noodles had a rich, almost smokey sauce that worked perfectly with the super tender beef. Noodle bowls will run you anywhere from $10 – $12, will fill you up, and will satisfy cravings like you wouldn’t believe. If you are looking to spend a little less–the noodles are a good way to go and there is plenty to share.

We didn’t have any room for dessert at this point (obviously), but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the Sake Sampler. I am personally a fan of chilled sake, as that is how sake is traditionally served. For $12, I was able to sample several: Diamond, Pearl, Ruby, Silver, Kurosawa. Ruby was my personal favorite–a little smoother with some nearly fruity notes. Delish! And of course, a bottle of Sake was had as well.

You can find Sapa at 722 South State Street in Salt Lake City. Get there–and check out their excellent catering and party menu as well. I can’t wait to see the amazing patio in the summer!

Make sure to check out their website for some beautiful photos!

Chicken, Green Chile, and Cream Cheese Enchiladas!

If you are in search of a warm, cheesy, melty, homemade meal for a cold winter night, these enchiladas are pretty much perfect. Also, they are a bit more healthy than your everyday, run of the mill, enchiladas you may have made in the past! And even better than that–they pact quite a bit more flavor.

Most of the time, I will cook chicken in my crock-pot with a can of salsa to make the most delicious and tender shredded chicken ever. However, I didn’t have time to throw chicken into the crock-pot before I went to work in the morning. So, I improvised a bit.

First, you want to start by mixing the enchilada filling. This time around, I used organic canned chicken instead of the shredded chicken I have used in the past. It worked out pretty great actually. Then, with the chicken, I mixed in 2 small cans of mild green chiles (I really love the Hatch brand green chiles you can find in the Mexican food isle), one diced tomato, sea salt, and ground black pepper.

Once the filling was ready, it was time to stuff the tortillas. I used whole wheat organic tortillas, which taste even better than the regular white ones that you can find at any grocery store. Even if you don’t buy organic, try the whole wheat in this recipe. Before stuffing each tortilla, I spread some low fat cream cheese on the tortilla for some extra cheesy flavor. A friend thought goat cheese might also work here, and I think he is probably right. Just make sure it is a non-seasoned mild goat cheese.

Then, go ahead and start filling your tortillas, wrapping them, and placing them in your non-stick pan. I also sprayed the pan with some olive oil for some more non-stick action.

If you are like me, I can never choose between green tomatillo/green chile sauce or red enchilada sauce. So, to heck with it–USE BOTH! I really like combining both of those flavors. I like green sauce when I cook with green chiles, but the red sauce also make you feel like you are eating something more authentic. For these enchiladas I used Las Palmas Green Chile Enchilada Sauce and Old El Paso Red Enchilada Sauce. Top with cheese and some black olives, and you are all set!

Pop those babies into the oven on 375 and cook for about 25 – 30 minutes–or until all that yummy cheese gets melty and beautiful.

While the enchiladas are cooking, you are of course, going to want to make some homemade guacamole, right? Get some beautiful avocados (a little more difficult to find in the winter…I know) and slice them up. Instead of cutting up a bunch of tomatoes, onions, and peppers, find a really good fresh local pico de gallo (usually in the cold section by the butter, etc) and use that instead. Add in a LOT of sea salt, pepper, garlic salt, onion powered, onion salt, and a pinch of sugar, and make sure you have some tortilla chips on hand to taste as you flavor it up. I like really salty guacamole, but you may not. I never put specific measurements with my seasonings because everyone likes things a bit different.

When your enchiladas are done, garnish with some shredded lettuce, your homemade guac, and some sour cream, and then go ahead and be in heaven for a few minutes.

This is a great and easy dish when you are cooking for several people or need to take dinner somewhere. Also, these enchiladas have MUCH more flavor than your standard enchiladas ever will!