Best Bites: TAG's Kona Kampachi

May 2009
Monday night marked the long-awaited opening of TAG, chef Troy Guard's "continental social food" restaurant on Larimer Square. The rather clumsy description simply means the menu draws upon influences from all over the globe--Hawaii, Asia, Latin America, France--and includes small and big plates. Look for usual suspects like Kobe beef sliders and a surf-n-turf roll, but also expect some show-stoppers, namely the flash-seared Kona kampachi. I ordered the starter, not only because I enjoy the clean flavor of this mild fish, but because it came topped with jalapeños, yuzu, and Pop Rocks. Yes, those Pop Rocks. At best, the combo sounded gimmicky and silly, but when it arrived, the dish entirely dispelled those notions. The sprinkling of candy (which stands in for more traditional roe) neutralizes the raw jalapeños, while heightening the kampachi's richness. I was sold, even if begrudgingly. Bonus: Pair the small plate with the Amante Picante margarita. Each sip reveals a subtle balance of lime, cilantro, and green Tabasco. Bizarre sounding, but delicious tasting.