The Dish: New York Chef Brian Tsao

Chef Brian Tsao developed his pan-Asian cooking style in a natural, yet roundabout way.

He was born in New York City, but moved to China as a teen. He became the guitarist of the country's first touring thrashcore band, and in the process, learned about the food of its diverse regions.

He returned to the U.S. to study at the Culinary Institute of America and, after graduation, worked in several prominent restaurants. He also appeared on the Food Network's "Beat Bobby Flay," where he topped the celebrity chef in a taco competition.

He's now executive chef at Mira Sushi & Izakaya and Kimoto Rooftop, New York's first Asian beer garden, melding influences from China, Korea, Japan, Malaysia and the U.S.

Here are some of his signature recipes: Beef Bulgogi Tacos, Fried Chicken & Green Tea Waffles, Crispy Calamari with Sweet Chili Sauce, Garlic Sauteed Baby Bok Choy, and Riazul Perfect Paloma.

Beef Bulgogi Tacos

Yields 15-20 tacos


1 pack wonton wrappers, round


Using a taco shell mold, fry wonton wrappers in clean fat of choice. Once the wrapper is crispy, allow to fully cool before use.

Scallion Slaw

1 cup scallions, fine julienne
½ cup brown rice vinegar
¼ cup sugar
2 tbsp. Korean chili flake
3 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. sesame oil


Rinse scallions well in ice cold water. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and marinate for 20 minutes.

Bulgogi marinade

1 pound beef ribeye
3 cups soy sauce
2 cups light brown sugar
1 cup red wine
1 cup garlic, ground
1 cup onion, ground
2 cups water
1/2 cup sesame oil
2 tbsp. black pepper
2 cups pineapple juice


Slice ribeye thin and combine all ingredients in a bowl. Allow beef to marinate overnight.

1 Korean pear, large (Clear of all skin and shave with a cheese grater right before use)
1 cup kimchee, minced (Drain well right before use)


Cook marinated beef in a hot pan until well done. This is very important to get optimal flavor from the marinade. Place a layer of minced kimchee then cooked beef into the taco shell. Garnish with scallion slaw and shaved Korean pear.

Taco directions

1. Fry wonton skins with taco shell mold and allow to cool.

2. Make beef marinade (chop fresh garlic and onion with food processor, add other ingredients) and then slice and marinate beef.

3. Cut scallions and soak in cold water. Then make marinade for scallion slaw. Once all done combine ingredients and allow to marinade.

4. Assemble, cook beef, place kimchee slaw in taco shell. Top with beef, scallion slaw and garnish with Korean pear.

Fried Chicken & Green Tea Waffles

Yields 5 servings


Fried Chicken

4 chicken thighs, boneless
2 cups buttermilk
1 qt. Canola Oil
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 qt. water
1 bunch scallion
1 tbsp. ginger, minced
4 cloves garlic, smashed

Seasoned Flour
1 qt. AP flour
2 tbsp. salt
2 tbsp. garlic powder
2 tbsp. paprika
1 tbsp. black pepper

Waffle Batter

2 cups AP flour
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
2.5 cups buttermilk (shaken)
0.75 lb butter
2 eggs
4 tbsp. matcha powder

Yuzu maple syrup

1/4 cup Yuzu Juice
3/4 cup maple syrup
Thicken with xantham gum, approx. 1 tbsp.


1 tbsp. toasted white sesame
1 tbsp. scallion, minced


1. Combine all ingredients for brine in a pot and warm until sugar has fully dissolved. Remove pot from heat source and allow it to fully cool.

2. Once brine is cool, cut chicken thigh into approximately 1-inch thick strips, place into cooled brine and leave in refrigerator overnight.

3. Next Day, put canola oil in a large skillet and bring to 375° F. While waiting for oil to get hot, place all ingredients for seasoned flour in a bowl and mix until all spices are evenly distributed.

4. Remove chicken from brine and dredge in seasoned flour, then coat with buttermilk. Once chicken is coated with buttermilk place back into flour one more time and allow the buttermilk to soak up as much flour as possible. Shake off any excess flour and slowly place coated chicken into fry oil.

5. Cook to dark golden brown and then place onto a tray lined with paper towel.

6. While waiting for the chicken to cook, combine ingredients for Yuzu maple syrup in a bowl until mixture becomes smooth, then set aside at room temperature.

7. Place approx. 6-7 oz of waffle batter into a greased waffle maker and cook for approximately 7 to 9 minutes. Once waffle is done, place onto a platter, then top with fried chicken.

8. Lightly drizzle Yuzu maple syrup over the chicken and garnish with toasted white sesame and scallion.

9. Garnish will not stick to the chicken unless there is a little maple syrup for it to stick onto. Do not completely soak the chicken with Yuzu maple syrup, otherwise it will become soggy. Served remaining Yuzu maple syrup on the side and enjoy!

Crispy Calamari with Sweet Chili Sauce

Yields 6 servings


Canola oil for frying calamari
2 lbs. calamari, cleaned with tentacles, hoods cut to ½" rings
3 tbsp. parsley, chopped
3 tbsp. garlic, chopped
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Seasoned flour

1 qt. AP flour
2 tbsp. salt
2 tbsp. garlic powder
2 tbsp. paprika
1 tbsp. black pepper
1/2 cup shallot, minced
4 tbsp. Thai chili, chopped
1/3 cup sweet chili sauce
1 stalk scallion, minced
1 lemon, cut into wedges


1. In a bowl combine calamari, parsley, garlic & extra virgin olive.

2. Mix ingredients until evenly mixed and leave in refrigerator overnight.

3. Next day, put canola oil in a large skillet and bring to 375° F.While waiting for oil to get hot, place all ingredients for seasoned flour in a bowl and mix until all spices are evenly distributed. While lightly shaking the bowl add calamari in handfuls. The shaking will help coat the individual pieces of calamari and prevent clumping (if you see pieces clumping together, add calamari slower). Shake off excess flour and place into fry oil and cook until golden brown (approx. 3-5 min).

4. Remove calamari from fry oil on a paper towel lined tray and hold at room temp. Place minced shallots on a large skilled with approximately 3-4 tbsp of fry oil.

5. Lightly sweat out shallots until translucent then add Thai chili. Once Thai chili becomes fragrant gently add calamari to the pan and gently toss while lightly dusting with salt. Place calamari into a bowl, garnish with scallion, wedges of lemon & sweet chili sauce.

Garlic Sauteed Baby Bok Choy

Yields 4 servings


1.5 lbs. baby bok choy, cleaned & cut in half
4 tbsp. canola oil
2 tbsp. garlic, minced
2 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. water
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. sesame oil


1. Place approximately 1 gallon of lightly salted water in a large pot and bring to a boil.

2. In a bowl combine soy sauce, water, sugar & sesame oil and mix until sugar has dissolved, reserve at room temperature.

3. Place bok choy into the boiling water and cook until bok choy becomes vibrant green (approx. 3-4min).

4. Remove from water and fully drain and reserve. In a large skillet add canola oil and begin to sweat out garlic. Add bok choy and toss to lightly coat with hot oil. Once bok choy is coated add sweet soy mixture and cook for approximately 2-3 mins., or until liquid has slightly reduced. Place bok choy onto a platter and top with left over sweet soy and enjoy.

Riazul Perfect Paloma

Yields 4 servings


1/4 cup kosher salt
1 grapefruit, cut into thin wedges
1 cup grapefruit juice
4 tbsp. lime juice
4 tsp. sugar
1 cup riazul plata
1 cup club soda


1. Pour some kosher salt on a plate. Rub half of rim of a highball glass with a grapefruit wedge; dip rim of glass in salt.

2. Combine 1/4 cup fresh grapefruit juice, 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, and 1 teaspoon sugar in glass; stir until sugar is dissolved. Stir in 1/4 cup riazul plata, add ice, and top off with 1/4 cup club soda.

3. Garnish with grapefruit wedge.