This Wu-Tang Clan-themed pop-up dinner was nothing to fuck with. That’s for sure.
Mesa Lounge, a restaurant and bar located in Costa Mesa, CA, is known for having various chefs come in and hold pop-up dinners. One of the most recent ones we were fortunate enough to be invited to was hosted by our very own chef Linh Nguyen. The theme: The Wu-Tang Clan.
Mesa has a monthly rotating chefs table that’s music themed. When the Wu-Tang theme was brought up, the Mesa staff thought it would be appropriate for me to guest chef, because of my love for hip-hop and being the former executive chef at the Crosby.
The Crosby was a very hip-hop-fluenced restaurant venue that was located in Downtown Santa Ana. The restaurant closed its doors in early 2014, though many people still remember it fondly.
Linh’s passion for Wu-Tang goes way back.
My love for hip-hop culture started when I was around 10. I was DJing at 12 and the first time I heard the Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) record I was awestruck. It was one of the first albums I bought in ’93: the Golden Era of hip-hop. It was an album where every verse was dope and every track could get played till my record was worn.
With the help of fellow chefs Ashley Guzman, Aron Habiger, and Mesa mixologist Katerina Mikoultchik, Linh set forth creating his Wu-Tang Dinner. He even got blessing from Wu-Tang affiliate, Killah Priest.
Here’s what was on the menu, with each dish cleverly named after a Wu-Tang track close to Linh’s heart. The Warrior is the hero of the course and the Spirit is the alcoholic pairing to accompany it.
Can It All Be So Simple
Warrior: Roasted Tokyo Turnips, Miso Brown Butter, Black Sesame, Turnip Greens, Crunch Garlic
Spirit: Anna de Codorniu, Sparkling Cava
Ooh Baby I Like It Raw
Warrior: Hamachi, Blood Orange, Quinoa, Compressed Melon, Mint, Chili Threads
Spirit: Rum, Montenegra, Blood Orange, Lemon, Thyme
Da Mystery Of Chessboxin
Warrior: 6 Minute Scotch Egg, Bulgogi Sauce, Kimchi Puree, Shiso, Furikake.
Spirit: Gin, Melon, Lemon, Shiso Mint, “Smoke”
Wu-Tang Clams Ain’t Nuthing To F*** With
Warrior: Manila Clams, Spanish Chorizo, Tomato, Fennel, Harisa, Thai Basil
Spirit: Tequila, Grapefruit, Lemon, Cucumber, Thai Basil, Jalapeno
Warrior: Wakame, Tri Tip, Burnt Onion, Rainbow Carrots, Carrot Top Pistou, Fried Enoki, Radish Sprouts
Spirit: Smith & Hook, Cabernet Sauvignon
C.R.E.A.M. (by Ashley Guzman)
Warrior: Hazelnut Dacquise, Caramel, Namelaka, Black Truffle Ice Cream, Edible Gold
Spirit: Apple Brandy, Aged Rum, Vanilla, Falernum, Ancho Reyes, Nitro Cold Brew, Chocolate Bitters
The meal was accompanied by a live band playing Wu-Tang covers and featured Chef Nguyen coming out to chat with his patrons and guide them through each course. Fellow Foodbeast Molly and I were throughly impressed with the concept, even after going to many tastings and dinners ourselves over the years.
Here’s what she had to say:
I think the dinner says a lot about how food and the way it is experienced is changing. The food was both inspired by and paired with their music and, to me, it felt like with this dinner we were essentially experiencing a crossover of multiple mediums, and considering and digesting multiple artistic aspects. In other words, I really liked how engaging the experience was.
Shout out to the Wu-Tang dinner crew for the outstanding dinner. Can’t wait to see what you come up with next.
(Guzman, Nguyen, Habiger)