By Liam Mayclem, the KCBS Foodie Chap
At the helm of Bushi-Tei restaurant since June 2011, Chef Hung is a New Jersey native, and explored his passion for the culinary arts by attending culinary school in New York, then shifted gears and devoted himself to developing his skills inside the kitchen.
He completed extended stages at acclaimed restaurants Daniel and Aquavit, then followed his heart to San Francisco in 2005 and joined Traci des Jardins’s James Beard Award-winning team at Jardiniere. He also worked at Bacar and Lark Creek Inn before des Jardins’ asked him to reunite with her team at Jardiniere, this time as sous chef.
“Cooking to me is about connection: To those who produce the ingredients, the people we cook with and cook for.”
– Chef Michael Hung, Executive Chef
Michael also had the pleasure of working on Pixar’s Academy Award-winning animated movie, Ratatouille. He earned a film credit as Menu Chef & Consultant, alongside legendary chefs Thomas Keller and Guy Savoy.
Bushi-tei is Michael’s first opportunity to occupy the role of executive chef, and he is excited to bring his love of classical cooking techniques and his passion for California’s superlative ingredients to the new menu. Working with owner Tak Matsuba – he has created something so very special here. The menu changes often so never a chance for it to get dusty or chef to get rusty.
In addition to cooking, Michael is also enrolled in the University of San Francisco’s Master of Fine Arts program in which he is studying the craft of fiction.
To visit Bushi-Tei is to be transported to a storybook world of fine dining where Chef Michael tells a tale through every divine dish on the table. His menu tells the story of the melting pot of “American” cuisine taking from all manner of cultures: from the East and West: Californian, Chinese, French, Japanese and yes his native East Coast.
As we celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year we also celebrate Chef Michael Hung, a young Chef making his mark big time here in our back yard in San Francisco’s Japan Town at Bushi-Tei. And that is where we connected recently for our Foodie Chap chat.
5 Tasty Questions with Chef Michael Hung
1. Define your cuisine?
Definitely American. We are taking a lot of different elements; French, Japanese, Chinese, Italian and we’re mixing them all together in a melting pot so I think that’s what we would categorize ourselves as.
2. It’s midnight and we go to your fridge, what will we discover there?
You’ll find beer and some cranberry juice.
3. In your next life, you come back as something other than a Chef, what might you be?
I would love to be a writer.
4. What is your biggest passion outside of the kitchen?
It would be writing. I love stories; to build stories and to read stories.
5. At your last supper, you can have a couple of guests, who would be at your table and what would you eat?
I would have all of my nieces and nephews. I don’t get a chance to see them very often and it’s hard to see them grow up when you’re halfway across the country, so I’d have them all there. I would probably have a lot of shark’s fin soup; sustainable of course, because it’s something they will probably never try in their lifetime.
Liam: And a little drink to go with that?
Chef: That would be Highland Park 25 year.
Liam: I’m going to pull up a seat for this. Chef Michael, thank you so much, five tasty answers!
Winter Root Vegetable and Miso Chowder
2 T blended olive oil
2 cups smoked bacon, ¼” dice
1 cup onion, ¼”dice
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 T AP Flour
3 T Awase (red) Miso
1 T Shiro (white) Miso
1 qt dashi (see recipe below or can substitute water)
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup carrot, diced ½”
1 cup japanese sweet potato, ½” dice
1 cup baby turnips. cut into wedges
2 cups yuba, ½” dice
2 cups nappa cabbage, ½” dice
2 T scallions, thinly sliced
½ lemon, juice only
Salt & Pepper to taste
1. In a 2 qt pot, saute bacon over medium heat until some fat has rendered and bacon is brown.
2. Lower heat and add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent.
3. Add flour and misos. Mix until thoroughly incorporated. Add dashi and cream. Bring to a simmer over medium heat continuing to stir occasionally. Once simmering, turn heat to low and cook chowder for 25 min.
4. Add carrots, sweet potatoes, turnips, and nappa cabbage and cook until vegetables are just tender, about 6 minutes. Add yuba to chowder and cook an additional 2 minutes. Finish with lemon juice and S&P to taste.
5. To serve, ladle chowder into bowls and top with sliced scallions.
Basic Dashi (yields 1 quart)
1 qt water
1 sheet konbu seaweed, about 2″x3″
¼ cup katsuobushi (bonito flakes), loosely packed
In a pot, combine water and konbu. Bring water to 170˚F and cook Konbu for 45 min. Remove pot from heat. Discard konbu and add katsuobushi. Allow to steep, without stirring, for 30 minutes. Strain dashi through a fine sieve or cheesecloth. Discard katsuobushi.
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