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Interactive Dinners at Finn & Porter

Roll your own, then enjoy a four-course dinner at Sushi 101
Claudia Alarcón, 10:00am, Wed. Oct. 16, 2013

There are lots of new things going on at Finn & Porter, the swank restaurant at the Hilton Downtown. A new chef, Peter Maffei, has given the menu a makeover and added a series of monthly wine dinners. Sushi 101, however, showcases the skills of Sushi Chef Triet Huynh, F&P sushi chef since the beginning.

Indeed, Chef Triet has been quietly working his craft for the past eight years, even as the sushi boom was going on all over the city. His Vietnamese heritage shows in creative touches on sushi bar classics and dishes of his own creation.

Chef Peter Maffei leads the group on the basics of sushi making.
photo by Will Larson
Unfortunately, on the night we attended Sushi 101, Chef Triet had a family emergency and could not lead the class. But Chef Maffei gladly stepped in to show the eager group the basics of sushi making.

Attendees learn the delicate process of making proper sushi rice.
photo by Will Larson
With cocktail in hand, we entered the impeccable kitchen. Each of us was supplied with a cutting board and all the required utensils. First, we were given a quick demonstration on how to prepare sushi rice and how to break down a huge Tasmanian salmon. Then we proceeded to make our own salmon and cucumber rolls.

They won't hire me to work behind the bar anytime soon, but my roll wasn't half bad. I even garnished with Sriracha.
photo by Will Larson
Once finished, each diner carried their proud accomplishment to the private dining area for a three-course dinner, enhanced by an excellent sake tasting and presentation by Stephanie Stowell from Republic National Distributing Company, who chose different styles of sake to pair with each dish. The food certainly surpassed my expectations.

The surprise of the night: a refreshing sunomono, with crunchy parsnip and Vietnamese-inspired dressing.
photo by Will Larson

First Course: Spicy Tako Sunomono, steamed octopus, cucumber salad, crunchy parsnip, spicy Southeast Asian dressing

Second Course: Tuna Foie Gras, featuring tuna-wrapped goat cheese, kalamata olives, and capers over fennel slaw topped with seared foie gras and balsamic teriyaki

Third Course: Sampling of fresh sushi & sashimi

Dessert: Tobiko Ice Cream

It may sound odd, but it was actually very good: tobiko ice cream with candied salmon skin garnish.
photo by Will Larson
The intimate setting allowed diners to ask questions and really enjoy themselves. Seems like a great idea for a first date or a girls night out. Sushi 101 dinners are $70 plus tax and gratuity per person and the next one is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 18. Make reservations at 512/493-4900 or at Finn & Porter’s website. Complimentary self-parking and discounted valet parking are available at the Hilton Austin Downtown (500 E. Fourth).

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