This past Saturday, January 12, 2019, we won 1st place in the Best Taco at the 2019 Taco Take Down sponsored by Chef’s Night Off. Several other great competitors were there. Following up in 2nd place was a fantastic Mexican Restaurant, Cholita’s, based in Broad Ripple. Among the judges were some very well known chefs like Chef Craig Baker, Chef Neal Brown (owner/chef at Ukiyo, Libertine, and Pizzology), and Ricky Matinez of Delicia, truly one of the best Mexican restaurants in all of Indiana. Also judging, Jolene Ketzenberger with Eat, Drink, Indy and YouTube sensations, Kristin and Danny Adams. It was an absolute pleasure to compete for the best taco in town. Being a catering company and not having a brick and mortar shop, no one can just stop in and grab one of our tacos though.
There is a rather significant connection between Okinawa and Latin America. Anyone who has traveled to Okinawa would have certainly seen “Taco Rice”. The Japanese government started a migration policy over a hundred years ago sending Japanese and Okinawan people to Central and South America. In fact, the largest number of Japanese descendants living outside of Japan is in Sao Paulo, Brazil. When migrants returned to Japan and Okinawa, they brought back latin foods with their Asian fusions embedded within. Taco Rice has become such a popular dish in Okinawa due to the American Military Bases, that KFC in Japan and Taco Bell in Japan put it on their menus. It was Seiji’s childhood eating Latin foods in Okinawan fashion that served as the impetus for this particular Beef Tataki “Ninja” Taco.
To tell you about what we created, we started with beef tenderloin and smoked it medium-rare just long enough to meet code and then sliced it super thin. Placed in a deep-fried Japanese egg-dough wrap, it was then served on a bed of bibb lettuce and topped with an Asian Pear Chutney, a Yuzu Dashi “au jus“, a Yuzu Wasabi Aioli, and chive microgreens and beet microgreens. On the side was a side of Higasa Foods’ Okinawan Chili Vinegar Relish. This was inspired by a Japanese dish called “Tataki” usually done with Kobe or Wagyu Beef or Tuna. We whipped the Yuzu-Wasabi Aioli to a consistency similar to that of guacamole and the Chutney was similar to a pico de gallo.