The Charlottesville 29

If there were just 29 restaurants in Charlottesville, what would be the ideal 29?

Tag: El Tako Nako

Five Finds on Friday: Noah Comarovschi

Charlottesville lost a beloved member of its food community this week. Noah Comarovschi cooked all over Charlottesville, at places like Oakhart Social, Public Fish & Oyster, Bizou, and Brookville. In memory of Noah, today’s Five Finds on Friday are some of his favorites, as remembered by friends and family. Noah leaves behind his seven-year-old son Isaac, who suddenly finds himself without a father. As Isaac was the light of Noah’s life, in tribute to Noah, friends have established a fund for Isaac’s education and well being. Help Isaac here.

1) Cabeza Tacos at El Tako Nako and Tacos Gomez. “We all loved Noah and we are all heart broken. He was such a fun, loving person and truly part of our Oakhart family and DNA. He was the kind of guy who let everyone know how much they meant to him. When I think about Noah, I think about us laughing a lot. I think about us arguing about whether El Tako Nako or Tacos Gomez has the better cabeza. I think about listening to the Jesus Lizard way too loud and sharing a hidden a box of cornstarch in the walk-in (IYKYK). I think about us having a couple too many shifties after long, hot services. One particular memory that stands out, because of how it encapsulated his love of family and of food, was the day that he brought in a few beautiful Cherokee Purple tomatoes from his dad’s garden. He was so proud of these tomatoes and of his dad who he was very close with. Honestly we all agreed that they were the best tomatoes we had all tasted that summer. He cut them up, sprinkled a little Maldon, cracked a little black pepper on them and insisted that we all try them. Then there was the mayo pairing. Hellmans? Not a f-ing chance. Dukes or Kewpie, nothing less. He beamed with pride sharing his dad’s ‘maters and it was a really happy afternoon. He is loved and missed.” – Tristan Wraight

2) Bagels with Lox and Herb Cream Cheese from Bodo’s. “We are far from a religious family, but Sunday meal was always sacred to us. As Pops always says, ‘It is not a Comarovschi get-together unless there is too much food.’ Those family dinners are some of my favorite memories with my brother. It didn’t matter what we were noshing on, as long as we were all together. The simple stuff like a spread of Bodo’s bagels with herb schmear and lox, or a heaping pile of all beef Hebrew National hotdogs were just as enjoyable as a decadent pork belly or butter braised ribeye. 
I think at times he saw being the chef in the family as a blessing and a burden. He always volunteered to man the grill, or slice the turkey and ham at Thanksgiving, or pick the restaurant that we would go to when he and I went to shows in other cities. And even when his annoyance at a request to cook our step-mom’s steak to well done was palpable, Noah still did it because he knew we appreciated his culinary prowess and he just wanted to contribute something that everyone could enjoy.” Anna Comarovschi

3) Sesame Chicken at Ming Dynasty. “The classic Ming Dynasty of the 1990s was a favorite spot for Noah and I back in the day. I remember he always got the sesame chicken. We would go there after we got paid working at Cooper and Seacrest doing political surveying. All the old crew worked there at one time or another.” Jaison Burke

4) Empanadas at Guajiros Miami Eatery. “We went later in the evening towards their closing time. No one was in there but us. We pored over the menu and couldn’t decide, so naturally we ordered half of the menu. While we were waiting we began to chat with the owner. Noah may have been a chatterbox — never met a stranger — but I am certainly not. The owner was so friendly and kind that we ended up just talking for another thirty minutes after our order was ready. Even though we ordered half the menu, I forgot to try their fried cheese, and upon mentioning this the owner went and dropped some in the fryer for us to munch on while we waited. Noah was very excited about the Maduros served with crème fraiche, and they were great. We also got the Cuban and Pan Con Croqueta, all great. But what really blew us away were the empanadas. What makes these empanadas truly spectacular is that they are both crispy on the outside but the dough remains perfectly soft. The texture, filling and the house made sauces are all flawlessly executed and wonderfully brought together to bring the best empanada I have ever had, and one Noah could not work out an equal. Truly a rare feat. – Robbie Hall

5) Traditional Chinese at Yuan Ho. “Noah absolutely loved Yuan Ho when we lived together in the early 2000’s. They were the first Chinese restaurant where I ever encountered the ‘Non-Western’ menu. Noah knew the owners personally, and they would let us in the back area where the kitchen was. It was my first time seeing a few traditional Chinese dishes and my first time seeing chefs use a wok station and a cleaver. That sparked my obsession with Asian culture and cuisine, and I’ll always remember that day.” – Mitchell Beerens

Five Finds on Friday: Eva Solano

Eva

Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Eva Solano, the Little Star sous chef who has an immigration hearing this month to decide whether she may remain in the country. As the primary provider for her family, Solano is fighting deportation so she can continue to support her family in the United States. You can help her with her battle, as she incurs mounting legal fees and other costs. Help Solano here. Solano’s picks:

1) Tacos de Lengua at El Tako Nako. “It is not hard to know why I love tacos. Tacos are a part of my heritage and roots. As well, this food truck is open until midnight and is convenient. After working a long night in the restaurant, I want to get something fast and yummy.”

2) Ankimo at TEN Sushi. “For some reason, I like to eat liver. The technique used at TEN Sushi when poaching the liver and preparing the components that form the dish work well. It is a very unique and yet simple dish.”

3) Pollo at Al Carbon. “As a working mother, when I was not able to cook for my family, I would always get the pollo from here. My fiance always jokes that I cook all day for other people, but am not able to cook for my own family. We love this pollo. It reminds us of the times we lived in NYC and had all the cultural influences. This pollo is prepared in a traditional Peruvian style and is a family favorite.”

4) Menudo at Super Amanecer. “If you ever want to recover from a hangover, this stew made from cow’s stomach and red chili pepper can save you! This is again very traditional after a long celebration. It reminds me of what my mom would make after holiday parties.”

5) Mole at Little Star. “The first time Chef Ryan said we were going to make mole, I was concerned as it is one of the most difficult, signature Mexican sauces. Sometimes it can have more than twenty different ingredients and takes us two days to create. I have been a chef for fine dining French, Japanese, and Italian cuisines, and I am so excited to make such an authentic sauce from Mexican cultures that is used for celebrations. When I tasted it, I was impressed with the results. Chef makes me proud to show Charlottesville that Mexican ingredients and techniques can compare with fine-dining cuisines of the world.”

Al Carbon Rotisserie Chicken, Charlottesville, VA 10/05/2015

Photo by Tom McGovern