Mohan Ismail seared thinly sliced beef tenderloin as he dodged flames shooting from the side of a red-hot wok ring.
The Singapore-raised chef was working on a recipe that reminded him of the flavors his mother once created. Ismail mixed the meat with red onions, fish sauce and lemon grass. Seconds later, he placed the almost scorched, crispy meat on a bed of watercress.
The concoction, called Shaking Beef, is part of a much larger creation being cooked up in the Calabasas test kitchen of Cheesecake Factory Inc., the restaurant chain known for its oversized portions of meat loaf and giant, gooey desserts.
This is no carbon copy. The chain is opening RockSugar Pan Asian Kitchen in the Century City mall June 19 with a menu that is 180 degrees different from what the company sells at its namesake restaurant chain and Grand Lux Cafes. And unlike the others, it will take reservations.
Ismail, whose culinary expertise was honed working for New York eateries such as Spice Market and Blue Hill, plans entrees like this beef dish and a seared salmon dressed with Indonesian chilies.
‘These flavors are memories of Singapore,’ Ismail said.
Photo: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times.
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