By Mike Goodman
Prepare for your journey through Southeast Asia at Kaliwa on The Wharf, a family-style, Asian fusion restaurant that features dishes from Thailand, the Philippines and Korea. This is an establishment that prides itself on both the variations and similarities of the food traditions in this part of the world.
Chef Cathal Armstrong has certainly created a unique restaurant with endless options. The Filipino section of the menu includes melt-in-your-mouth Barbecue Skewers of pork belly which aren’t actually on skewers, but do indeed melt in your mouth. You could choose to stick to the Filipino portions and enjoy the tender and flavorful Duck Confit or Crispy Shrimp and Pork Fried Rolls, but why stay put when you are there to embark on a voyage?
Put down your fork and spoon, pick up the chopsticks, and head to Korea. The Chilled Noodle Salad with Korean hot pepper paste (Gochujang) is a great appetizer for the entire table, with fresh lettuce, carrots and cabbage topping firm noodles. And when in Korea, it is hard to pass up the Kimchi served with the Braised Beef Shortribs, and of course a crowd favorite, Bibimbap, a rice dish focused on toppings of pickled vegetables, egg and the Gochujang.
Next, enter Thailand, if you dare to test your spice-level. I have found myself continuing to crave the Blue Crab Curry, which provides mouthfuls of crab in a succulent, flavorful and very spicy sauce. There are other traditional curries, such as Panang and Green Curry with Vegetables, to enjoy on this jaunt, if you still have room.
The ambiance is exotic, designed by the Chef’s wife Meshelle Armstrong, making a point to embed you in the art, script and designs of the cultures you are visiting. Prepare to go with the flow, as the food comes out as it is cooked, and while there is no kid’s menu, you can find what you need for the children between noodles, meat and rice. Prices add up, as the menu recommends 2-3 items per adult, with each item averaging $15-$25. That said, some of the individual items can make a light lunch for one, but the hard part is sticking to just one dish. Spice levels vary more than the price, so there is something for everyone.
Like many trips, you’ll wish that you could go back sooner rather than later. Destinations aren’t cheap, but this one is all about the journey.