For our fourth dish, Chef Tu mixes east and west in a stir-fried dish with semolina Garganelli, a pasta similar in shape to the tubular-shaped penne and Asian elements like soy stewed beef, tofu, bean sprouts and flavored with lemongrass. It is a take on one of his favorite childhood dishes. He reminisces, “My sister and I would complain there’s always rice every day at the table. So my mom would try and get creative, she would pan-fry pork chops and cook rigatoni or pasta shells and she would toss it in the pan drippings.”
To end the meal, a simple dish of Hodo soy silken tofu with ginger syrup. The tofu, freshly made hours beforehand, delicately quivers to the touch. Thin slices of candied kumquats add a citrus-y floral note to each bite. For me, it brings back wistful childhood memories. As a little girl, I would make this dish for my mother and have it waiting for her as she came home from her shift from the car mat factory. I would make the tofu from a dry mix and make a ginger sauce from a simple sugar mixture infused with slivers of ginger. It was her favorite dish.
It made me think twice, oh shit, I’m on my own. I really got to make something with this.” Chef Tu David Phu
As we say our goodbyes, I steal a glance at Chef Tu as he breaks down the kitchen. I know his his path has been challenging. “My parents made it loud and clear that they weren’t going to support me, but at the same token I feel if they didn’t take those means, or made me go through that path, I probably wouldn’t have taken this career path as seriously. It made me think twice, oh shit, I’m on my own. I really got to make something with this.”
Sometimes, in order to look forward, one must look backwards. It is exciting to see a young chef reinterpreting classic dishes in new and exciting ways. As Chef Tu says, “I’m not a quitter.”