Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Slurping Turtle - Ann Arbor



Now, here is the thing. I really, really enjoy writing about food, especially of the 'eating out' variety. But, as I have lamented previously, in France I simply can't afford the good stuff most of the time (although I have to say that I had an excellent lunch at Maison Druout in St. Rémy not long ago but was, alas, cameraless, hence proofless). Whenever I return to the States to visit my family, it is like whooppeeeeeee because a) they are foodies like me and need little to no encouragement to try something new and b) as Ann Arbor is a very cosmopolitan town, there is an international mix of delectables on nearly every block.



Of those, the opening of Slurping Turtle was the big kerbloom this year, as one would expect when a Michelin-starred chef - in this case Takashi Yagihashi - decides to go low brow and open up a noodle joint. Save, of course, as we all know, Michelin-starred chefs don't really do low brow, do they?


Despite copious scheming, I wasn't able to make it to Slurping Turtle until my Mom's Birthday. Now, if you have been reading here for any length of time, you will know that, in our family, the Birthday Rules are always firmly in place, meaning: Birthdayee calls the shots and don't even think about being snarky to said person in any way, shape or form. As my Mom was planning on going out to a big, sparkling dinner that evening (something that never happened as a giant thunderstorm rolled in with tornado warnings - eh oui, c'est le Midwest  - and so I ended up baking my zillion spiced salmon and coconut milk mashed sweet potatoes on the fly), we were only there to "eat light."


Now, truly, tapas is my favorite style of eating. I am the walking definition of gourmande, aka piggy, so there you have it, the more things to try the better. While this meant that we did not get to slurp what is probably the most authentic Tonkotsu in North America (in-house freshly made ramen noodles with a machine imported from Japan, yada-yada), we did get to have several tasty treats that have remained in my memory and are filed away under the vague category of: "kitchen inspiration" (certainly as though I eat like a foodie, I cook like a Food E).


The Birthday Girl's favorite was (and it is no longer on the menu so it is rather unkind of me to tease you with it) a soy-marinated salmon tortilla with an anchovy aioli that was so good that when the waiter asked if he could take away the plate when there was only three capers left on it, we said no.


While the shrimp shumai received welcome nods of contentedness around the table, for me, the slam dunk was the sesame-marinated chicken fried in duck fat. I believe that it was my Sister who wisely opined, "What doesn't taste better cooked in duck fat?" A good question Robin, one that leaves me perplexed with perhaps a timid suggestion of: Skittles? Amazingly, as this was not the favorite of the other two redheads, they let me finish them off. Perfume rising up, skin crunching into sweetness, juice down the chin...don't mind if I do.

The only potentially weak spot was presented in the pork belly bao as it didn't quite have the magical bite to sink in ratio of their simpler counterparts that I would retrieve from an open window in Chinatown on hungover mornings when the symphony of NYC was set to screaming. Ah, yes, happy memories of headachy breakfasts can't compete with this zingier version, soy-ginger glaze or no.


If the comfort of comfort was missing in the bao, we certainly found it in the chocolate cream puff that was generously offered by our server in salutations of my Mom's big day (and yes, once I realized that we would be getting such goods, I continued to fling out such hopeful announcements wherever we ate and was rarely disappointed. Do you think such a gesture would happen in France? Free dessert? Are you mad?). We used our remaining chopsticks to pry open the brioche with a slightly crumbled crust and rolled our eyes over the pillow puffed mousse inside.


Cheers, chef Takashi and thank you for giving some lovely gifts to even the non-bithdayees at the table. As the turtle is the symbol of longevity in Japan, by all means let him slurp on...


Slurping Turtle
608 East Liberty Street
Ann Arbor, Michigan, 48104
Tel.: (001) 734-887-6868


21 comments:

puppyfur said...

I'm still here...reading you and so enjoying your posts...must start following on instagram and get Rémy's rescue photo up! Thanks for telling us about that. Merci, dear Heather. PS no new doggie yet.

Marsha Splenderosa said...

Heather, this story has an amazing lilt to it I don't often notice in your writings. I love it. You are FUNNY !!
And, this must be the way you are in a real conversation, it's just charming. I'll take your zillion spice salmon & sweet potatoes anytime. Happy Holidays, my love.....

George Snyder said...

Now I'm hungry. I adore the way you write. Plus, you make me want to go wherever you are, or wherever you've been. Now if only I could get you to come here, there's a heavenly little Thai restaurant just down the street... bises from rainy "Bladerunner" L.A. xxxx G

Lorrie said...

Ooh, these plates look so delicious!

Mumbai said...

All about food...everybody like it , I believe and what brings people closer than a great meal? Rather I prefer eating than talking about but there is always a lot to say and share about interesting food. In EU I found out that many popular chefs cut down or change their sophisticated and unfortunately expensive meals for a subtle, healthy and also cheaper one without to quit their perfection on it...and tapas are anyway the best to be able to discover different tastes.

La Contessa said...

YOU LOST Me...........somewhere along the way then I FIGURED IT OUT!I thought YOU MADE ALL Of those dishes with a STROM A BREWING!!!THAT salmon on a tortilla..............did you get the recipe????Make it up in your head if YOU did not and send to me!The first dish......salmon and coconut milk and sweet potatoes.........CREATION I would like that TOO!Loved the bit about a free dessert in FRANCE............NEVER!GOOD OLD U .S. OF A!We can always count on the birthday GAL getting a FREEBIE here but all of YOU???YOU MUST have IMPRESSED HIM and OOOH and AAAHHH a bit LOUD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!XOXOXO

I Dream Of said...

Heather, it looks so yummy. I've never been to Ann Arbor (in fact, there is a chance that I have never been to Michigan - trying to remember if I ever went to the Nordstrom store there or not, alas they all kind of blend together). I'm thinking that this is my kind of restaurant: Tapas? Asian? Yes, please. Looks like something that would be big in Seattle.

Hope your December is starting off right, my friend! XOXOXO

simpleimages2 said...

It’s wonderful to know a new restaurant in Ann Arbor with delicious fried chicken and shrimp shumai and other Asian tapas. We visit friends in Jackson about once a year. Now we know where to go and eat. There’re still some restaurants where the chef gives complimentary cakes and helps celebrate birthdays and wedding anniversaries.
At last we have a lot of rain in Napa Valley and snow in the mountains.

Heather Robinson said...

So good to hear from you and thanks for keeping me updated! I will look for you on ig. :)

Heather Robinson said...

I don't know why I let my silly side come out when I write about food but I do! I am glad that you appreciate it Marsha and thank you for the Holiday wishes! Sending them right back...

Heather Robinson said...

Ah, if only I could! Meeting you was just too wonderful in too short of a time. But that was something I never thought would have happened and it did so who knows? And a compliment on my writing from you just makes me levitate with happiness...thank you for that...

Heather Robinson said...

Everything was so good Lorrie! I bet that you can get Aisiany fusion food but for me it was a real treat!!

Heather Robinson said...

Absolutely R, actually that is something that I want to write about in another post - the shift back towards focusing on the ingredients here. It is something that I have seen happen in the States already for a while now but it is very cool to see it starting to trickle down from the master chefs in France.

Heather Robinson said...

Heehee. I will send you a made up recipe for the salmon tortilla and explain my dinner too!

Heather Robinson said...

Thank you lovely Jeanne! But I honestly can't even quite get my head around the fact that it is December!! While everyone is already decorating their trees I am still reminiscing about meals had this summer...eh oui. Gros Bisous!

Heather Robinson said...

Snow in the mountains! I know how much that is needed. Edgar, there are so many wonderful restaurants in Ann Arbor. I would suggest this for lunch and Aventura for dinner - there is some excellent, really inventive cooking coming out of that kitchen.

La Contessa said...

Perfect!
I await...................XO

robin said...

"Memories....like the corners of my miiiiiind..." - yummy memories, I might add!!! Yep, that was some yummy business - I should go back there! I agree that I like your silly writing, and great pics to go with this post, too! I wish the restaurants could see these posts - I think they would be mighty glad for how beautifully their restaurant and food comes off in your wonderful posts! p.s. miss you!

Suze said...

Ironz ... here you've posted this gorgeous paean to cultured eating and I've posted about ... not eating!

D A Wolf said...

Everything looks and sounds delicious! The duck fat comment makes me smile. I had fries in duck fat last summer in a restaurant in Philadelphia. OH. SO. GOOD.

Love when you write about food...

xo

Michel said...

There is no time limits on how long you can enjoy memories of a special meal, especially if they involve special people in your life. And any time you can spend in Michigan is a good thing..as long as you don't have to live there, or that is my opinion.