As I’ve mentioned before, I eat out with a group of women once a month. For lack of a better designation, we call ourselves Women Who Eat Out. We are an adventurous lot.
This month we drove downtown for dinner at Hiro on Washington. Chef Bernie Lee made the evening all the more special by joining us. He took the guess work out of ordering by selecting a number of dishes for us to share that he thought we’d enjoy. And we did.
Bernie definitely knows the art of flavor and presentation. We started with a number of appetizers and side dishes, one of my favorites being the Kale Salad with lemongrass-citrus dressing. Now I’m no kale lover, but this is a game changer. We scarfed down the Lobster Rangoon and sticky rice as we awaited the entrees.
Next came the sizzling Chicken Claypot with eggplant, leeks with pork belly, a braised beef dish, and a well-prepared skate—the fish of the day. I would have gotten more photos, but my iPhone camera doesn’t always do well under restaurant lighting.
Between courses, Bernie entertained us with stories of his travels in Asia, his Malaysian homeland, and upcoming trips. He answered our questions on topics ranging from new foods and restaurants to Asian etiquette. We learned more about his monthly Kamayan feasts, a Filipino-style of dining, where everyone eats with their hands from an array of foods served from banana leaves stretched down the middle of long tables. I was excited to learn of the monthly pop up dinners in the planning, featuring food from different countries and regions in Asia.
One new menu item of interest was the Charcoal Waffle now offered at brunch. The dark color comes from powdered bamboo charcoal. To give us an idea of the new uses for charcoal coloring in foods, Bernie treated us to a taste of the dark-colored iced cream with cherries. Very tasty.
No doubt about it, Hiro is a flavor paradise, a museum of food art with a relaxed atmosphere for exploring new cuisine. A visit to Hiro is also a group activity, enjoyed all the more in the company of adventuresome companions.
Hiro Asian Kitchen and Lounge, 1405 Washington at N. 14th in Downtown St. Louis. Open: Brunch: Sat-Sun 11a-3p; Lunch: Tue–Fri 11a–4p; Sat. 12p-4p; Dinner: Tue-Thu 4p-9:30p; Fri & Sat: 4p-10:30p; Sun 4p-9p. Happy Hour: Tue-Sat 3p-6p. (You might want to call ahead rather than try to decipher this: 314-241-4476)