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Home > DINING WITH CHEFS > Las Vegas Dining with Chefs > MOzen Bistro (Part 2 of 2)

Executive Chef, Mandarin Oriental Shawn Armstrong Former Executive Sous Chef, MOzen Bistro

MOzen Bistro

    Singapore BBQ Sting Ray

Dining with Chefs: Shawn Armstrong Former Executive Sous Chef, MOzen Bistro
Executive Chef, Mandarin Oriental
MOzen Bistro (Part 2 of 2)

We were especially enticed by the Singapore BBQ Sting Ray, which one of our dining companions swore by. So, naturally we had to try it. "One of the oddities that we do is the BBQ stingray, because I most recently worked in Singapore and this is one of the dishes that really made an impact on me," Chef Armstrong said. "I thought it would be unusual to offer in the States. In Singapore they have what they call hawker centers. Back in the '60s they used to have these roadside hawkers -- these little pushcarts -- and they would sell whatever: dumplings or spring rolls or some kind of sweet or bread. What the government decided to do was go through a massive clean-up in the '60s and '70s, and they removed all of the hawkers from the streets. Then they put them into what we would call a food court. Most of them are al fresco -- out in the open, in the environment. There are a variety of them, but the main concept is that each little hawker stall is probably about a 10-by-12 little box, and that may be being generous. Each stall will specialize in whatever they are doing: wonton soup, Chinese BBQ, Muslim Malay food or possibly some Indian food. Typically, what they do is very limited; the menu may go up to six or seven items, but more often than not it's one or two or three things that they specialize in. One of the big things is Malaysian BBQ food. Obviously, they have their own style. What we call BBQ is not what they call BBQ. Nevertheless, what they do is they'll take a whole stingray or skate wing and -- bone in, skin on -- they brush it with a sambal, or chile paste. Basically, it's made with a dried shrimp base, lot of chiles, lots of garlic and some lime. They brush it on there, they wrap it in a banana leaf and they will roast it over an open flame. I think it’s a beautiful dish and this Malay style of cooking is very unique to Singapore. I brought that back with me; it's refined slightly, but in all aspects it's pretty much traditional to the way they do it. The way we refine it a little is we just remove it from the bone, take the skin off and roll it so it's like a little filet of sting ray, then we brush it with the sambal, wrap it in the banana leaf and roast it in the oven for a little bit. Then we serve it with a little cucumber relish. It's definitely something tasty. I think it's something unusual; I think you have to have an open mind about it. It's definitely high on the spice level, but a lovely dish nonetheless."

House Cured Bacon Salad

After the spicy sting ray we decided to veer toward the American side of the menu by ordering the House Cured Bacon Salad, which offers a twist on the traditional. "This is a very American dish," Chef Armstrong said. "It's basically just one-third of a baby iceburg lettuce head. We put three of those on the plate and there's some house cured and roasted bacon. We use a thick cut slab of bacon -- it's applewood smoked and it's brushed with Dijon mustard -- a little bit of herb and a little bit of sugar. We re-roast that in the oven so you kind of have a cold and warm aspect on the salad, which is nice. The baby iceburg, bacon and blue cheese is just a timeless combination. And of course we put some beets on there, as well. Basically, the inspiration was reinventing the classic. We took something that's worked for so long and then put our own spin on it. It's one of our most popular salads."

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