We’re Not Worthy - Chef Sean Park is at it again, this time at his own place
By Patrick Graham
By now, Wayne’s World in its theatrical form has been around for more than twenty years, so this article’s title refers to a phrase that probably should be relegated to the dustbin of history (or at least, lumped together with other tired movie lines that haven’t quite held up over the last couple of decades). May I please borrow said phrase for just a few moments of your time, if only to explain what its original message was?
To refresh your collective memories regarding the movie, Wayne and Garth come across legendary rocker Alice Cooper in full regalia and announce that they cannot occupy the same spatial vicinity with this one Mr. Cooper without exalting him with breathless praise. Only it’s not breathless, it’s shouting. “We’re not worthy!! We’re not worthy!!”
Such is not typical behavior during restaurant visits, but my introduction to Chef Sean Park and his new venue begged for such wanton displays of appreciation. After executive chef tenures at O-Ku and Bambu, Park has opened up Kanpai on US 17 in Mount Pleasant, and my wife and I got to sample the tasting menu. Fasten your seatbelts, this was a fun ride.
The first offering was a demonstration of why Park is one of the most respected sushi chefs in the whole region: seared albacore with seaweed, daikon, pickled onion, and tapioca. Yes, tapioca, in its purest form, as in not in pudding. The other plate included octopus, julienned carrot, tapioca, and hibiscus. Simply visually stunning. In addition, it was a situation such as this that his mastery of the art took over…I don’t eat octopus. But I will now.
The albacore and octopus were followed by his “foie gras of the sea”: Monkfish liver pâté with pickled garlic, truffled ponzu soy, edible gold, and Himalayan pink salt that is somewhere on the order of 600 million years old. What? Yes, I knew what this stuff was, but I was just getting schooled by the highest authority. That, and the fact that my wife was enjoying watching me look like a dope with my feeble chopsticks skills, led me to the conclusion that yes, I wasn’t worthy.
Next was seared pork gyoza. I love potstickers and its simplicity, because I needed to regain consciousness after all that complexity I just got hit with. Call it a mental rest.
Kurobuta pork belly was to follow, as it was miso braised and brined for a day or so, topped with the contrast of kim chee and mango slaw.
Korean ribeye steak with a rice cracker for texture.
And then the coup de gras: a shrimp tempura roll with freshly torched Wagyu beef over the top, garlic butter, the requisite wasabi and ginger, and an onion chip with sweet soy glaze. Ouch. We were running out of room.
But we had to find some more room for this: tempura fried banana, kiwi, mochi ice cream, mango, and tempura fried cheesecake.
This was wayyyy too much fun, and we do have to thank Chef Park for his hospitality, because there is true artistry to be witnessed in Mt. P. If there had been wine involved, you probably wouldn’t have read any of this.
1035 Johnnie Dodds Blvd.
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464