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Nopa Kitchen + Bar, opening tonight in Penn Quarter,bills itself as an “American brasserie.” But if you notice an Asian flare on the menu menu, you’re not crazy.
Chef Greg McCarty previously worked at New York’s Jean-Georges, which has French and Asian influences, and Nobu 57. “You can’t take the experience out of the chef,” he says. “I’ve been around Thai and Japanese ingredients my whole cooking life pretty much. So I sort of fell in love with them as ingredients, not necessarily in technique.”
For example, McCarty likes to use miso instead of salt for many dishes because it “adds depth where you can’t find depth in a lot of vegetarian dishes.” Plus, it’s healthier. The Chilean sea bass with baby eggplant and wasabi spring peas is marinated in miso, as are the Japanese mushrooms atop Parisienne gnocchi.
McCarty will also make nukazuke pickles, a Japanese type of fermented vegetable that uses rice husk paste. (Y&H previously wrote about Daikaya‘s nukazuke, which only one chef is allowed to touch with bare hands, or the batch is ruined.) Other hints at McCarty’s Asian cooking past include hamachi tartare with sweet pea puree and ginger vinaigrette and a foie gras terrine with carrot and ginger.
But you’ll still get a hefty helping of Americana. There’s fried chicken, burgers, and steaks on the menu, too.
Photo by Jessica Sidman