A dish of lightly charred corn, thick chunks of slow cooked bacon, tomatoes and basil at Row 34 in Boston played upon the same theme, while fluke crudo and fresh from the bay fried oysters were also fitting for late summer late-night snacks. On the same trip, cherry tomatoes from a friends garden atop a bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon was a minimalist expression of what I found in each of these dishes, with the midafternoon sun visible, almost palpable with every bite.
Back in Philly, I experimented with tiny, lush green heirlooms mixed with raw scallops, shiso, thyme, and lemon balm, all of it daubed with garlic oil. This dish was inspired by another from Ben Puchowitz (Cheu). The exact components forgotten, it was the ethereal lightness of raw seafood and summer fruit that stayed with me.
On a recent stop at Cheu, the menu featured another variant on Puchowitz’s love for raw fish that brought some summertime love. His clever “tuna poke” featured cubes of raw tuna nearly indistinguishable from identical cuts of watermelon. This cubist haze was sprinkled with sesame seeds, mingled with mint, and placed in a pool of soy cut tahini abutted by neatly placed avocado soft serve. It was an even better play on watermelon than a labor day weekend Bbq dish that featured feta, mint, and balsamic vinegar.
And as for other summer time nods, pan fried egg noodles with shrimp, shiso verde, a sprinkling of queso fresca, radish, pea pods, and charred corn–Cheu’s Yakisoba 2.0–is one of the best you can come across.