Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Bruno's Adobo - Thai Night - Jackson

Last Monday, I was on the prowl for something interesting for lunch and despite Jackson’s growth in culinary diversity in the past few years, interesting is not always readily available.  A busy work schedule added the difficulty of needing to stay near downtown so I turned to Facebook to see what Luis Bruno’s Adobo had for a lunch special. What was initially elation at the sight of a pad thai special turned into the crashing disappointment of arriving at Adobo to find the special was sold out. But there was a silver lining to this somewhat banal little tale, Luis, with the help of Su Kennedy, was planning a special Thai Night.

For those unfamiliar with Luis’ background in the Jackson culinary world, the man seems to be constantly on the move. From his eponymous restaurant in the French Quarter on Lakeland, Bruno moved to the position of personal chef to Governor Barbour to head chef for the Jackson Hilton to chef at the Museum of Art and now his restaurant on Roach Street. That little jaunt through history finished, let’s take a look at the meal for which I convinced Stephen to cheat on his successful Paleo diet.

The first part of this four course meal was the appetizers portion and it came with four choices: crispy sesame balls, kra thung thong (chicken curry and potato cups), sweet sticky rice with coconut shrimp, or roti. Rarely seen in Jackson, I went with the sweet sticky rice.
It’s certainly a departure from your average white rice.
All coconut and sugar, it was hard to discern the shrimp in this cup.
Like the rice in this foil cup, this black rice was served cold but kaffir lime leaves dominated the flavors in this serving.

Stephen was kind enough to let me take a few pictures and bites of his appetizer choice.
This was a well rounded curry flavor to this chicken curry but like my rice, it arrived at the table quite cold.

The second course was a choice of soup or salad and for both Stephen and me, the Thai wonton soup beat out the salad kheg.
Frankly I would be elated if this became a regular feature on the Adobo menu. Even without the Hoisin bbq pork and wonton, this broth was delightfully rich, silky, and imbued with a dense chicken flavor accented with hoisin sweetness.
Aside from the broth, the wontons were large and packed with ground pork while the hoisin pork was an extra meaty bonus.

With the entrée course, we could choose between khoa mok kai (rice biryani), hor mok (salmon), or khoa mun som tum (green papaya salad). Since this was a cheat night, Stephen went for the gusto and chose the khoa mok kai.
Saffron jasmine rice, chicken with five spice, turmeric, fried shallots, and raisins made for heady mix of flavors. While I couldn’t taste much five spice on the chicken, it was juicy and well cooked and paired beautifully with the sweetness of the jasmine rice. A sprinkling of the sweet chili and fish sauce condiment added just the right chili heat and salinity.

As good as Stephen’s biryani was, I think I came out ahead by choosing the som tum.
Bruno’s version had shredded green papaya, carrots, tomato, dried shrimp, lime juice, fish sauce, palm sugar, and thai chilies with a side of coconut rice.
Each bite of this salad was a balance of salty, sour, sweet, and spiciness with a hearty vegetal crunch for good measure. This was not a dish for those who dislike fish sauce but for me, the combination of green papaya, fish sauce, and chilies was sublime.

Although I was hoping for another portion of som tum, the next course was a green tea custard layered on a chiffon cake with sweet honey crème anglaise.
The best way I can think to describe this cake was lustrous and silky. Luis was happy to point out this cake had been cooked with a bain marie and it had the texture to prove it.
As good as the green tea flavor of the custard cake was, everyone was captivated by the lokk chupe. These treats were made from marzipan flavor bean paste and they were , clichéd as it sounds, almost too pretty to eat.

Despite a bit of a slipup with the first course, Luis Bruno and Su Kennedy were firing on all cylinders for their special Thai night. As a parting gift, there was even the assurance that a few of these dishes will make it onto the regular Adobo menu. I suppose I’ll wait to see if that comes to fruition before I write a full review of Adobo but in the meantime, I’ll try not to miss any more of Luis Bruno’s special nights at Adobo.

Bruno’s Adobo Address & Information
127 South Roach Street, Jackson, MS 39201 // Bruno’s AdoboFacebook // Bruno’s Adobo Menu
Adobo on Urbanspoon