The Haze American + Asian Bar-B-Que

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TheBookPolice
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The Haze American + Asian Bar-B-Que

Postby TheBookPolice » Tue Oct 27, 2009 9:33 pm

First of all, the interior continues to be great. Not a massive change from Kushi Bar, but significant. Pictures of what appear to be vendors and other passers-by at the Farmers' Market are framed and hanging on the wall.

I'm not going to speculate as to whether it was intentional or not that a blonde Caucasian girl and a dark-haired Asian girl were the two counter staff, but it would certainly fit the concept. Chef Shinji Muramoto and his family were buzzing about. A couple parties arrived as we were finishing up (7:30ish), but it was empty otherwise. There's still no marquee or large sign--just a smaller logo on the door itself.

TDP has covered the East/West concept already. The wife ordered the Eastern pork, a version of the Chinese char-siu. It was a pretty good plate of meat if minimally sauced. Sides: pan seared spinach and parsnips. The spinach was simple, but much better than the parsnips, which were still a little bitter.

I had the dry-rubbed brisket (the Western variety). I'm sorry to say that there was almost no evidence it had ever seen a smoker; no smoke ring, none of that slightly crumbly texture, and not a whole lot of smoky flavor. It was a little chewy. If it had been cooked like the pork, it would have been better. The peppery vinegar-based sauce was a good Carolina BBQ representation. Sides: curried sweet potato salad and beans. Again, one was much better than the other; in this case, the beans were the winner. Tender, oniony, a little BBQ sauce--I'd eat more of these. The potato salad grew on me, but there was a LOT of sweet going on.

Good tap beer selection (Bell's Two Hearted for her, Ale Asylum Big Slick for me), and I like the fact that there's a split between every-day sides and seasonal sides that can change from day to day. They should really put up a sign this time. Service was friendly.

It'll be interesting to see how the menu evolves over time, whether there will be different Asian takes on barbecue, or whether different cuts will be used. There's enough room in the concept for a lot of variety, but also a strong inclination to groove your pitches. I hope they don't stick too much to the familiar/obvious. I liked that KB took some risks, and hope The Haze does too.

http://www.thehazebbq.com/

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Re: The Haze American + Asian Bar-B-Que

Postby boston_jeff » Wed Oct 28, 2009 10:40 am

I really liked the beans as well. Nice variety of bean and great flavor. The homemade pickles and pickled onions are amazing. Next time try the Eastern half rack, it was delicious. Not super sauced, but I dipped in a few and enjoyed what I tried (incl. the vinegary one). It came with a basic rice that complimentedmy meat quite well, and the black vinegar glaze was a perfect flavor for the tender, fall-off-the-bone ribs. Can't wait to go back and try more! I've had some of the best KC, Houston, Carolina and KY bbq and I typically shudder at the approximations I've tried outside of those locales, but this is an interesting approach to the concept. Not sure if I would enjoy the Western preps, but I am willing to give it my best shot.

Ordering was fairly seamless and as with previous incarnations of this space, you can see a lot of what the chefs are doing. You choose the type of meat you want, then decide whether you want it Eastern (Asian) or Western (American). Eastern comes with rice, Western with Texas toast, both get 2 sides. They ran out of brussel sprouts when we were there. There are no options for meat combos on the menu online, but I feel like there were some specials on the board when we were there that combined multiple meat flavors.

Seems as if the space is well appointed for this, we went last Friday and there was plenty of room for 8 of us at prime dining time. Strange, before Muramoto expanded to across the street, I ate there several times and never had to wait for a table, typically on a weekend night. Maybe I'm just lucky, as he is my favorite chef in Madison. As for signage, I don't remember there ever being any at that location of Muramoto. Are they trying to keep it a secret?

Still some of the nicest restrooms in Madison!

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Re: The Haze American + Asian Bar-B-Que

Postby swoon_queen » Wed Oct 28, 2009 11:32 am

I went to the Haze Friday night. There were six of us, and by the end of the meal we'd all agreed that the Haze was pretty decent, albeit with a few kinks to work out. I had the duck, with brussel sprouts and braised greens. I was surprised at the tiny portion of duck, and the lack of seasoning overall (a common chorus at our table). Though the brussel sprouts and greens were both cooked nicely (neither were mushy) both sides seemed begging for salt, butter, vinegar--something more flavorful than just the vegetables themselves. I tasted the ribs, and pulled pork,which was far and away the winner in our group(tender, smoky; delicious) and was hoping for a bite of the homemade pickles, but they didn't make it to our end of the table. Heard they were delicious.

I loved Kushi Bar Muramoto and I was a frequent customer-- I'm also a big fan of both other Muramotos. I want to preface my nitpicking/complaints with that to emphasize that I'm confident Haze will get past the initial kinks and hopefully this feedback will help them do that. I was really happy to see the ever-friendly Daniel Momont upon arriving on Friday-- when I read that he was general manager of all the Muramoto restaurants I first thought it was a typo, but yes, he's left the Old Fashioned for this new gig, and he highly recommends the banh mi (can't wait to try lunch at The Haze). It's always a good sign when management and chefs are out in the open at a dining establishment.

That said, the biggest complaints me and my other dining partners had that night were somewhat superficial. The concept of patrons ordering at the cash register/counter and paying first is fine, but to get little to no service included with prices ranging from $9.99 to $22.99 seems offputting (and awkward if you're not quite sure who's footing the bill). I am all for paying top dollar for locally raised, delicious food, so I'll gladly deal with it. I'm not sure others will. The menu is not entirely self-explanatory, so the staff should know how to explain it. However, when someone in my party asked what "wet mopped" meant, the cashiers weren't sure (I ended up explaining). They also didn't point out where to pick up the food, where the sauces were, etc. They were very friendly though.

Plus, the plates/glass pitchers of beer were heavy and unwieldy for those in my party with no experience waiting tables. And the parchment paper on the plates, while authentic for some dishes, didn't really work for my duck/rice/greens/sprouts. I accidentally ate a lot of paper that stuck to the food.

I was hoping the Western/Eastern fusion concept would extend to the bar. Kushi's drink menu was amazing. We missed it severely on Friday. But even if a full bar will never materialize at Haze, most of us commented that hot sake (which at least one of us was expecting) would have been a welcome option. My friend from the Carolinas, who proclaimed the ribs "pretty alright" was anticipating something that evoked Korean BBQ. And we all agreed that some type of sharable appetizer style food would be wise.

As a side note, WSJ reviewed Famous Dave's today. Really.
Last edited by swoon_queen on Wed Oct 28, 2009 12:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Haze American + Asian Bar-B-Que

Postby LindaF » Wed Oct 28, 2009 12:17 pm

Yeah, well, obviously since we're right across the street, we're interested in lunch at The Haze BBQ and lunch is good so far. Pretty in line with other places around the square with prices for lunch -- and the most interesting food there since Taqueria Gila Monster (though Dog Eat Dog did have its big fans -- I , of course, preferred Dog Eat Dog's fish sandwich...I did. Good catfish.)

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Re: The Haze American + Asian Bar-B-Que

Postby boston_jeff » Wed Oct 28, 2009 12:18 pm

My experience of the cashiers was similar, very timid, not comfortable answering questions. And yeah, the paper stuck to some of my food on the plate as well. But all the food I had was good, so I can look past these issues. I also agree that some may be unwilling to pay so much for bbq with little service. Not a problem for me.

My guess is that some of what we are not seeing at Haze may be in response to the failure of the Kushi concept. Perhaps they will tweak the food and drinks menus in the coming weeks.

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Re: The Haze American + Asian Bar-B-Que

Postby TheBookPolice » Wed Oct 28, 2009 12:57 pm

I think the cashier/service issues are already being addressed. Maybe it was playing dumb with the process that got us better service, but the ladies were chatty, made with recommendations for other patrons, and our food was brought out to us rather than a pick-up situation.

I also think I overheard one of them saying that the banh mi can be ordered any time of day. Not so with the other lunch options, but I'm fairly certain I heard that correctly about the banh mi.

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Re: The Haze American + Asian Bar-B-Que

Postby LindaF » Wed Oct 28, 2009 1:03 pm

I should say, most interesting LUNCH since Taqueria Gila.
The original muramoto when there didn't jibe with my idea of grabbing lunch, and Kushi wasn't open for lunch until shortly before it closed altogether.

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Re: The Haze American + Asian Bar-B-Que

Postby jjoyce » Wed Oct 28, 2009 1:48 pm

I got some carryout the other night when working late and it was deserted! Got the eastern pork, which I won't get again. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't that good. I think I need to step up and get the ribs next. I have had great Asian ribs in other cities and am eager to try Haze's.

I really think it's great that Muramoto is willing to experiment with that space. We'll see if this place catches on, but I might stumble in there just to watch some baseball and have a beer one of these days. The bar is really inviting.

I must say that Gila Monster was a pain in the ass on a lot of days when I wanted to get lunch. Delicious, but inconvenient. Dog Eat Dog was my downfall... I probably ate there two to three times a week. The Haze's price levels will keep me from that frequency, but I'll be trying several other items on the menu for sure.

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Re: The Haze American + Asian Bar-B-Que

Postby boston_jeff » Wed Oct 28, 2009 2:24 pm

Jealous of you Isthmus folks and your proximity!

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Re: The Haze American + Asian Bar-B-Que

Postby nevermore » Wed Oct 28, 2009 2:46 pm

jjoyce wrote:Dog Eat Dog was my downfall... I probably ate there two to three times a week.

Had I not stopped working on the Square, that place would have probably killed me.

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Re: The Haze American + Asian Bar-B-Que

Postby MadMind75 » Mon Nov 09, 2009 11:31 am

Walked by The Haze on Friday. The smell was intoxicating.

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Re: The Haze American + Asian Bar-B-Que

Postby Petro » Tue Nov 10, 2009 12:00 pm

I stopped in with a friend for lunch during their first week and I should really be fair and give them a second visit now that they've had some time to get things up and running. I'll share my thoughts with the caveat that things should hopefully have improved by now.

The menu makes me wonder if the east/west breakdown simply means that they're preparing the meats in a rather generic fashion and then slicing/chopping to suit as ordered. I'm a huge char siu fan and their preparation was devoid of any smoke ring or trace of bark and didn't taste of any flavorings aside from the sauce that I'd applied myself. The pork was juicy but it tasted like it'd just been baked. I really enjoyed the sweet potatoes that accompanied it and found their fries to be far better than those served at most barbecue shacks. (Where they're generally soggy garbage that only serves to sop up sauce.)

My friend tried the pork sandwich and found it agreeable, but he's not as prone to getting fat-kid excited about food as myself.

While eating I watched one of the staff timidly breaking down an odd cut of brisket - it wasn't a point or a flat or even the two joined. It was something else entirely. With a bone in it. (?!?)

I'm hopeful that my next visit will be a far better experience, but I'm not sure I'll order that "char siu" again.

I'd be ecstatic to find a place serving rib tips in this town, but I think everyone buys their spares from the purveyors as St. Louis spares. It makes me long for Honey 1.

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Re: The Haze American + Asian Bar-B-Que

Postby O.J. » Tue Nov 10, 2009 12:12 pm

Petro wrote:While eating I watched one of the staff timidly breaking down an odd cut of brisket - it wasn't a point or a flat or even the two joined. It was something else entirely. With a bone in it. (?!?)


A full brisket contains part of the sternum bone; it's pretty much always removed for retail sale, though.

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Re: The Haze American + Asian Bar-B-Que

Postby Kovalic » Fri Nov 13, 2009 2:44 pm

Just stopped in for lunch. Had the chicken Bahn Mi, with a side of chili, to take away. Both were good, but I wouldn't call them spectacular. The Bahn Mi was tasty and filling (and most interesting - smoky pulled chicken, mayo, cilantro and jalapenos being the predominant flavors).

Given the heft of the sandwich, the chili was probably unnecessary (but for $9.99 combined, the combo was a pretty good deal - the sandwich is usually $7.99 with a side: soups are usually $3.99). The chili also seemed oddly...one-dimensional, flavor-wise. Or perhaps I was just expecting more from a restaurant of this pedigree. I mean, it was absolutely fine - just not out-of-this-world good.

Considering I was there around 1 pm on a Friday, I was surprised only two tables were occupied.

I'm looking forward to trying the menu in greater depth.

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Re: The Haze American + Asian Bar-B-Que

Postby TheSyndicate » Fri Nov 13, 2009 9:38 pm

My wife and I tried The Haze tonight (Friday) and we left largely disappointed. My wife had a 1/2 rack of ribs (western style) with the side salad and homecut fries and I had the brisket (eastern style - spicy miso) with the beans and roasted ginger beets.

My wife's ribs were so tough that she kept saying that she could not tell whether she was chewing on meat, gristle or bone. The flavor was OK (nicely smokey with a slightly too-spicy sauce for her tastes) but the texture was all-wrong for ribs. It was extremely difficult to get the meat away from the bone and you had to chew for quite a while to get it down. Her fries were good but not especially noteworthy and the salad of microgreens with a tarragon vinaigrette was fresh and tasty.

My brisket was fine though was neither spicy nor especially miso-tasting (in fact, I never would have guessed that miso was involved if it wasn't written on the menu board). It was also lukewarm bordering on cold. The beets were woefully underseasoned (I doubt they ever saw a flake of salt) and the ginger flavor was non-existent. The beans were the highlight of the meal - well seasoned, smokey and perfectly cooked. Well, actually the highlight was that they had Three Floyds Gumballhead on tap but as far as the food went the beans were the star(s).

This isn't to say that the meal was terrible. Aside from the ribs, everything else was mediocre or just slightly above average (though the portion-size for the price is pretty impressive). I don't see us returning for dinner unless I hear great things in the future.


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