Story by Dave Eckert
In last month’s issue of Kansas City Homes & Style, I penned an article on what I like to call “World Cuisine,” featuring three awesome restaurants producing authentic and delicious cuisine from their homeland: Brazil, Thailand, and Kenya. As there is so much more terrific native cuisine to be sampled in our great city, I’ve returned with this follow-up article shining the light on more “World Cuisine.”
Krokstrom Klubb and Market
I’ve had the good fortune to experience many native cuisines during my time producing and hosting Culinary Travels with Dave Eckert on PBS-TV. I never made it to Scandinavia. Fortunately, a piece of Scandinavia has come to Kansas City in the form of Krokstrom Klubb and Market. Krokstrom is the collaboration of Katee McLean and Josh Rogers who have recreated a home-style Scandinavian dining experience through the cuisine, the beverage program, and the ambiance at their Midtown restaurant. “We want people to feel like they are dining in our home, that they are our friends and special guests,” Rogers told me during a recent meal at Krokstrom.
The food celebrates McLean’s Swedish heritage, and many of her recipes draw on her memories and experiences growing up with that heritage in Western Kansas. “There’s a lot of pickling in our cuisine, just as there is in Scandinavia. We do as much as we can in-house to provide the most authentic Scandinavian culinary experience you can find,” Rogers noted. Dishes range from the familiar, Swedish Meatballs, to the less familiar, The Flying Jacob, which is a curry confit chicken leg and thigh served with bacon, peanuts, banana chili cream sauce and jasmine rice. I had both the meatballs and the Jacob during my visit and they were both outstanding.
While McLean heads up the kitchen, Rogers has created an authentic and diverse bar program featuring mead, Scandinavian beer, and a wide range of Scandinavian spirits. I had a flight of mead and a Danish wine made with pears and blueberries that reminded me of a Pinot Noir. Whether it’s the food, the drinks, or the ambiance, Krokstrom Klubb and Market offers authenticity and passion across the board! Sadly, several weeks after dining at Krokstrom, McLean and Rogers announced they would be closing their beloved space on November 2. This saddens me and leaves me feeling helpless and frustrated. I encourage everyone to have a meal (or two) at Krokstrom before November 2 and help give the restaurant the Viking Funeral it deserves.
Waldo Thai Place
Two of the 275 episodes of Culinary Travels I will never forget were filmed in Thailand. The aromas, vibrancy, and shear clarity of the cuisine I experienced made the shows in Bangkok and Phuket truly memorable. Unfortunately, I never got to Northern Thailand, which features a different culinary style, but it’s my good fortune that Pam Liberda and Waldo Thai Place have come to Kansas City.
“I’m from, Lampang, which is in Northern Thailand. It’s also inland, so we feature more pork, beef, and chicken in our dishes along with fresh vegetables,” Liberda shared. “You will also find fresh herbs, such as lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, mint, and dill in my food.”
Waldo Thai, which just celebrated its one-year anniversary, serves some of the freshest, unique, and tastiest cuisine in the metro. My personal favorites include the duck leg, one of the best duck preparations in the city, the lettuce wraps with Tiger Cried shrimp, ginger, roasted peanut, shallot, and lime, and the fried whole red snapper. But, honestly, you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. Just tell the server what you like and your tolerance for spice and you’ll be good to go.
I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention the cocktail program of Darrell Loo. One of the more talented mixologists in town, Loo crafts a myriad of tasty treats that are to be sipped, savored, and repeated!
For her part, Liberda says she wants everyone who dines with her to feel at home. “Dining in my restaurant is like inviting friends to my house, I would love to cook for you, introduce you to my food and my culture, and never leave hungry,” Liberda told me. There’s no chance of that, Pam, that’s for sure!
Boru Ramen | Photos by Alyssa Broadus
Finishing on an Asian theme, my final stop brings me to Waldo’s Boru Ramen. Noted for its Ramen offerings, which are prepared for one, but are generous enough for two or even three, Boru elevates Ramen to the status it deserves. “We do everything in a traditional Chinese or Korean fashion. We’re cooking everyone a la minute, and we use top grade products, which just makes everything so much fresher and better,” Sous Chef Carl Krause said.
I’m a big fan of Boru’s Bao buns, mini sandwiches that are served with a variety of sauces that allow diners to choose their own level of heat. The pork belly Bao is stellar. It’s served naked so each one can be “customized” to the individual palate. Then, there’s the Ramen, which comes in six versions. The Boru is my “go to” Ramen. Loaded with braised pork shoulder, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and a six-minute egg, among other goodies, the Boru is a meal, or maybe a meal and a half, unto itself.
Boru Ramen’s goal is authenticity, but with high grade products. Kraus says Summit Group’s Corporate Chef Po Wang, a native of Taiwan, makes sure of that. “He writes the menu and I execute it. He is our authenticator. This was his dream ever since they started Summit Grill in Lee’s Summit,” Kraus stated.
I’ve not traveled to Taiwan, but I’ve been to mainland China several times, and the food at Boru Ramen is as good as anything I’ve had there. When I have it, it takes me back to those visits. I think that’s what I love about world cuisine the most-you can both celebrate a culture and re-live a memory!