Disclaimer: I know the chef and a portion of meal was a treat from her.
I didn't know, when I settled on Flying Tiger, that I knew the chef. I glanced at a menu as I wandered by and a pork belly dish grabbed my eye; I decided to come back from dinner.
I have always found dining solo slightly intimidating, but I was made comfortable as soon as I walked in. A seat at the bar was offered and as I walked up, I spotted a familiar face; Chef Tina Fineza, the Asian Cuisine instructor from my days working at the culinary school. Then another familiar face, a woman who had been a student when I worked at Dubrulle. She was one of the best and I wasn't surprised to see that Chef Tina had snapped her up
The bar looked into the tiny open kitchen, an ideal spot in my opinion! I ordered a cocktail while I contemplated the menu and watched dishes come by me at the pass. Flying Tiger was offering a Dine Out menu, but the pork belly was not on it. I opted for an appetizer from the dine out menu and the pork.
The appetizer turned out to be the size of a main: toro tuna sushi encased in a tempura batter. This dish was so rich, I almost had to throw the towel in early on. I think my favourite part were the mushrooms served with the dish. They had an acidity that helped to cut the richness of the tuna and the next thing I knew, my plate was empty
The pork belly. This is what all pork belly should aspire to be. The meat was perfectly cooked, tender, decadent. The broth was rich and flavourful. It was served with a shredded mango pickle and garlic fried rice, both of which complimented the dish very well. I managed to eat every ounce of pork, but just had no room for all the rice. I asked for an appropriate pairing of wine and the Klein Zinfandel I was poured was delicious (so much so, I ordered a second glass!) Chef Tina offered a sample of the duck crepes (which look amazing,) but (insanely) I turned her down. I had seen coconut soup on the dessert menu and I was really hoping I would be able to find some room for it..
We chatted a bit, I watched the action in the kitchen, mesmerized. I felt warm and comfortable. The chef chatted with other patrons at the bar, making everyone feel at home (if home included a chef and a kitchen like that!).
A plate appeared over the top of the bar, Leanne presenting me with an unordered dessert sampler. The picture is terrible and really doesn't do it justice. The first dessert was a Cassava coconut cake ~ cassava shredded and cooked with sugar and coconut milk, I think. It was delicious, light, not too sweet, loaded with flavour. At the end of the plate, deep fried bananas with chocolate sauce ~ rich, rich, rich. At this point, I was well past the edge and I could only eat one bite. I wanted to save all my energy for the center dessert, coconut soup. I devoured every single drop of that soup...
I walked home from the Flying Tiger, a good half hour walk, half of it uphill in the damp cold. I didn't care. I was warm and delirious with food joy.