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Park to Table: Shaun Motoda of Tag Raw

Oh, landlocked Colorado — it must be a tough job to be a raw fish specialist in a city without oceans, but Hawaii’s gift to Denver, Shaun Motoda, can make seafood so delicious you can almost feel the ocean breeze when you take a bite.

When the weather is warm, we Denverites can’t take to real beaches, but lucky for us, LSE Consulting partnered with Tag Raw to bring Chef Shaun and his fresh flavors to our own midwestern island in Skyline Park.

The scene was set for a perfect beachy garden party.

Travis Plakke welcomed us with a gorgeous François Montand brut rosé welcome drink and everyone gathered around the table.

Our first course: a stunning sea bream crudo with honey tangerine, aged sherry vinegar, shiso, and bubu arare (a sort of mini-puff ball of umami flavor that Chef Shaun has to bring back from Hawaii because it isn’t sold in Colorado).

A simply gorgeous and fresh plate that went beautifully with Travis’ choice of Torrontes – Tilia’s 2011 Torrontes to be exact. Fresh and bright with crisp acidity; sweet on the nose, acidic on the tongue.

Our classic Japanese flavors were followed by spanish fusion with our second course: a cold smoked corn sushi paired with a scottish steelhead trout and guajillo chile sauce. Wow. If course one makes you feel as if you’re in an asian paradise, course two brings you south of the boarder with a real tasty kick.

This paired deliciously with a Loire Valley Granit de Château-Thébaud, named for the granite-based soil on which the muscadet vineyards grow. A really special wine that paired exceptionally well with the nice kick in the guajillo chile sauce, to say the least.

And then the shortrib came out.

Or to be more specific, grilled berkshire short rib with local arugula with pickled watermelon rind and apple wasabi butter. The rich, buttery short rib was perfect with the tart pickled rind and the whole dish was brought elegantly together by a Boom Boom Syrah.

And it wouldn’t be an evening on Denver Island without our own little tropical storm, which arrived with our stunning dessert course. A few fellow diners scattered while I ate my palisade peaches crème brûlée crêpes and soaked in the beautiful downpour.

Local fruit, fresh fish, and a tropical storm without the $500 plane ticket? Thanks for a little trip to paradise, Chef Shaun!

Grab your Park to Table tickets (only a few tickets to August 16th’s event are left) here and join us for the Five at Five Luau on August 21st.

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