Going out for brunch on the weekend is an act of gastronomic decadence that I sometime allow myself, especially if I have weekend guests. Rather than select the usual breakfast fare, I recently opted for a trip to Downtown St. Louis, where I could revel in the uniqueness of Hiro Asian Kitchen.
Chef Bernie Lee’s classy dishes are masterpieces of Asian fusion. For instance, he has quite a nice waffle on the menu, but it’s not your Waffle House variety. This superb bit of kitchen art comes with a chunk of fried chicken atop the waffle, a bit of sauce and a sprinkle of scallions. Different, but it works beautifully.
Bernie told me that the showpiece dish is inspired by the chicken served on the streets of Taiwan.
Kale Salad, Really?
Now I’m not a big kale fan. But when I’m at Hiro I usually inquire of my dining companions if they enjoy the trendy green. Most say no. I say, “Perfect, because I want you to try this salad.” Then I order the kale.
It’s baby, tender kale that Bernie has worked his magic on and dressed with a citrus vinaigrette. Once set on the table, there’s never a leaf left in the bowl.
Yes, Hiro’s kitchen gets their flavor combinations just right. There’s nothing weird or highly seasoned, just pure goodness on small plates. If you go on a weekend, be there early when they open at 11 a.m., because they fill up at the noon hour.
Kamayan Feast: Truly Finger Licking Good
If you’re bored with eating the same old thing and want to have a food adventure with friends, or total strangers, try the ancient Kamayan Feast, that’s eaten with your fingers from a long communal table. I’ve done this and it’s great fun. (Dates are shown at the bottom of this post. Reserve early because this is a popular activity.)
Hiro Asian Kitchen, 1405 Washington Ave. Open: Brunch: Sat & Sun 11a-3p. Lunch: Tue-Fri 11a-4p and Fri-Sat 4p-11p. Dinner: Tue-Thu 4p-9:30p; Fri-Sat 4p-10:30p; Sun 4p-9p. Happy Hour: Tue-Sat 3p-6p (discount on small plate and beverages). Late Night Bar Menu: Fri & Sat 10:30p-1a.