TALDE: True Asian Fusion

by Loren Chaffee

Chef Dale Talde’s name should be synonymous with true Asian fusion cuisine.  Having appeared on “Top Chef” and “Top Chef: All Stars”, Talde’s name has become familiar to foodies and gourmands alike.  Joining forces with acclaimed restaurateur David Massoni and lauded bartender, photographer, and proprietor John Bush, Chef Talde has created a trifecta of delectable mainstays in Brooklyn: Thistle Hill, Pork Slope, and the namesake Talde.  Although opening this namesake restaurant was not a difficult decision to make, leaving his successful career and steady income as a top chef in top New York establishment was.

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When I walked into Talde’s corner location on 7th Avenue amidst the hubbub and strollers of Park Slope, the first thing that caught my eye was the eclectic collection of Asian bodhisattvas, dragons, and early 1900s architecture that somehow really worked together to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The bar was stocked nearly to the high ceilings with an international palette of spirits and wines.

I was seated by the open kitchen where I happily watched the fever pitch of the chefs and servers as the dinner crowd started coming in and filling every seat.  The service was impeccable from the host, who was just as well versed in the menu and ingredients as the affable servers were, to the bartender who gingerly mixed my ginger rose cocktail of Four Roses bourbon, Laird’s Apple Jack, lemon, and ginger-cinnamon grenadine. Perfect for autumn and winter, the cocktail delighted the taste buds in a flood of perfumed apple pie perfection.

The newest item on Talde’s menu (as of never available before November 7th) was the grilled octopus with a cranberry miso, lap cheong sausage, and charred Napa cabbage. It smelled like Thanksgiving in a bowl. [TIP: Look like you know what’s up, cut up the charred cabbage, and use the mini tongs (Why tongs, Chef Talde? Because people like to share food, but restaurants never provide you with the serving utensils to share. Best. Idea. Ever. ) to pull the food off the skewers. Mix everything well to get a kiss of cranberry miso on every bite.] The yuzu guacamole was served over crispy sticky rice, not the usual conduit for guacamole.  The buttery avocado was perked up by the tart citrus of yuzu providing a multi-textured experience as you bite into this appetizer.  When the salt and pepper sea bream arrived, the spicy fragrance of the salt and pepper reminded me of all of the night market salt and pepper fried chicken and squid I ate while traveling through Taiwan. The whole fish arrived to my table magically filleted so that every bite had a crispy crunch to it enhanced by the XO tartar sauce and the pickles made from traditionally Filipino calamansi citrus fruit.

Chef Talde and his colleagues are opening a Talde in Jersey City as well as an Italian market.  What would Chef Talde like to do after New Jersey?  Turn his sights on his hometown of Chicago and add his name to the already long list of Chicago’s culinary greats.  For more information about the restaurants, check out http://taldebrooklyn.com, and for more information about Chef Talde, follow him on Twitter @DaleTalde.