|East Meets West (and South) - Kaisho's Thai Fried Chicken and Kimchee Waffles - Photo by Wasabi Prime|
Kaisho opened late last year in downtown Bellevue (if you're familiar with the area, it's the old spot where Boom Noodle used to be), and they're offering their own take on Asian dishes. Jeffrey Lunak, Blue C Sushi's Culinary Executive and protege of famed Japanese Chef Morimoto, is one of the lead concept designers of Kaisho's unique menu.The style of food is influenced by several cultures -- Japanese, Korean, Thai, Chinese -- and does different Westernized riffs on traditional foods, while not overwhelming their dishes with an overabundance of flavor-fuss. It's not food drowning in sauce, it's flavors your palate can recognize and appreciate. They treat ingredients with care and even pickle their own kimchee -- theirs is a lighter style, minus the heavy fermented flavor, since they only age each batch a couple of days (they go through it so quickly!). It's more like a Japanese-style "morning pickle" which retains a lot of the vegetables' freshness. People who aren't typical kimchee fans tend to appreciate Kaisho's lighter version.
|Interior dining area of Kaisho - Photo by Wasabi Prime|
|Asian chicken and waffle breakdown - truly enjoyable in all its parts - Photos by Wasabi Prime|
|Godzilla-sized smoked brisket gyoza - tradition amplified! - Photos by Wasabi Prime|
|Seasonal albacore, dressed in springtime - Photo by Wasabi Prime|
|Raise a glass, everybody - Photos by Wasabi Prime|
Overall, I think Kaisho is working in a good direction on removing the gimmick factor of "fusion cuisine," which has run rampant for many years. They're trying to get palates already familiar with traditional dishes, excited about something different, yet balanced. I don't think of this as simply "Asian fusion," I think it's something distinctly American, in the sense that it's adaptive cuisine. The same way we hold spaghetti and meatballs dearly to our hearts, yet it's completely alien to Italians, the mixing of flavors is an ongoing expression of cultural integration.