Market Watch: What Namu's Dennis Lee Will Cook With Winter Produce
Last year when we re-launched the Thursday Ferry Plaza Farmers Market we were hoping to create a place where the tastiest, seasonal ingredients would be available to take home in their raw form and would also be showcased on the menus of our prepared food vendors. Many of these chefs and food artisans were familiar to me as regular market shoppers, supplying their restaurant and commercial kitchens with ingredients from Ferry Plaza farmers each week. This is why brothers Dennis, David and Daniel Lee, the owners and masterminds behind the now highly lauded Namu Restaurant, and devoted farmers market supporters seemed like a perfect fit.
While Daniel and David handle most of the front of the house operations, Dennis is responsible for the restaurant’s menu--an ever-changing representation of the seasons. For the Thursday market he has adapted this menu to fit with the fast pace of the market lunch rush without compromising any of his sensibilities. Popular favorites at the Namu stand include kimchee fried rice topped with an egg, tempura battered and fried seasonal veggies, and what they like to call “the real Korean tacos.”
Feeling the winter vibe, Dennis has recently started to change up the restaurants menu adding braised oxtail and daikon stew, a sizzling version of their Okonomiyaki and a Filipino style Sisig dish made with chopped pig head, trotter, belly and winter veggies to the mix. He also just brought several fermenting pots back from Korea and intends to use them to experiment with making his own miso, Korean chile paste and fish sauce. Dennis says he definitely wants to use these in his own restaurant and eventually also hopes to have small batches available for the public to buy. In 2011 the Lee brothers will also begin expanding on the success of Namu and their presence at the Ferry Plaza Thursday and Saturday markets with a new casual concept restaurant space—think communal seating, bar snacks—which they hope to launch later in the year.
Here’s a look at what Chef Dennis Lee was shopping for this week:
Brussels Sprouts from Iacopi Farms
Rapini greens from Everything Under the Sun
Daikon radishes from Chue’s Farm
Shitake mushrooms from Far West Fungi