By the time the holidays ground to a close I had cooked and consumed so much dark roux that I feel certain the blood moving through my veins has taken on the viscosity of our region’s traditional culinary thickener. I am over all manner of gumbos, gravies and étouffée, as well as anything resembling fried turkey, roast beef, oyster dressing, gratins, casseroles and dessert. Ugh.
I suspect I have plenty of company.
With this in mind, I set out on an exploration of light, flavorful dishes to replace my months-long steady diet of goo. My friend, Larry Nguyen, general manager of Toups South, indisputably a temple of all foods robust, steered me toward the prefect light lunch consisting of two dishes from the restaurant’s small plates menu: a serving of tiny, fresh, delicately seasoned Covey Rise Farms vegetables well as a dish of marinated Gulf Snapper crudo finished with a scant amount of puréed butternut squash, a scattering of pumpkin seeds and a faint drizzle of chili oil. Both dishes were as visually appealing as they were flavorful, and they let me feeling virtuous and satisfied.
It is easy to dine guiltlessly at Korea House in Metairie where the flavors are intense, the portions gigantic and the prices are low. Every dish you order will come with an array of eight to 12 small side dishes that may include kim chi, shredded Dikon radish, cucumber kim chi, braised Dikon, vinegary bean sprouts and pickled cucumbers. Though there are many light dishes to choose from, my favorites include Dukboki (stir-fried seasoned rice cake and vegetables in a spicy sauce) Bibim Nangmyun (buckwheat noodles, sliced cucumber and sliced pork in a spicy sauce) and Jajangmyun (noodles, sliced cucumber in a black bean sauce).
Recently renovated into a chic cocktail space, La Thai Uptown also boasts a number of dishes on the menu that are Ochsner Health System approved, including chicken sate, blackened Ahi tuna, tom kar gai (a coconut milk-based soup with lemongrass, lime and chicken) and spicy beef.
Light, bright and brilliant dishes are standards on the menu at kin on Washington Avenue. Chef Heiu Than and his team of ace sous chefs change up the menu every day, but there are always selections of pillowy dumplings, wings (not all of them are so virtuous so watch out), brothy bowls of ramen and a number of fresh seafood applications. The house’s special made-to-order fruit spritzers come in flavors such as green apple, and they’re the perfect accompaniment to what’s on the plate.
Annunciation Restaurant in the Warehouse District recently unveiled a newly renovated bar and bar program and appointed Jacob Cureton to the position of Executive Chef.
Cureton has just introduced a soulful, creative menu of modern Creole and Southern-inspired dishes. Starters are made for sharing and include baked oysters with Chapapeela Farms house made boudin and a brown butter hollandaise; baked jumbo lump crab cakes with lemon beurre blanc; multi-colored beets with pecans, goat cheese and satsuma, served with yellow and pink beet purée; and cold smoked fried chicken and dumplings.
Entrée options include Gulf drum with Covey Rise Farms sweet potatoes and yams, sautéed kale and a moutarde beurre blanc; Chappapeela Farms pork osso buco with charred corn, cheese grits and local peppers; sweet corn and kale risotto with jumbo lump crab, smoked tomato vinaigrette and herb oil; and seared yellowfin tuna with Creole fried black rice, sweet potato habanero sauce and the chef’s signature Steel Sauce (half Steen’s cane gastrique and half eel sauce).
Sunday Brunch at Annunciation features live entertainment, specialty cocktails and $5 Bloody Marys and Mimosas. Menu standouts include Louisiana berry waffles with vanilla crème and Steen’s blended syrup; New York strip steak with poached eggs and pommes frites; and both oyster dressing Benedict and boudin Benedict.
1016 Annunciation St.
4600 Washington Ave.
3547 18th St.
La Thai Uptown
4938 Prytania St.
1504 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.