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Firecracker beef tartare, anyone? New West pop-up promises 'bold Mexican cuisine'

New West foodies will soon taste a lip-smacking mashup of Mexican- and Asian-inspired dishes.

A new dinner pop-up promises to get you thinking of firecrackers. 

Vancouver-based Tultepec, a culinary business known for whipping up "bold Mexican cuisine" in Kitsilano, will be setting up its kitchen at Steel & Oak brewery (1319 3rd Ave.) on Thursday, Sept. 21 — offering "small plates of big flavours," as per the brewery's Instagram post.

Inspired by the Mexican city of Tultepec, the pyrotechnic capital of the country, the pop-up offers "explosive flavour, sparks over the rooftop of the mouth," in chef and co-owner Christian Chaumont's words.

The offerings, besides reflecting Mexico's rich culinary traditions, also borrow flavours from Asian cuisine.

"My vision with this concept is to understand that we will never be able to recreate 'authentic' Mexican food in Canada. We don’t have the same micro-regions: soil, weather, produce, palate, etc.," said Chaumont, who is originally from Monterrey, Mexico.

Over the last 12 years, Chaumont worked in kitchens throughout Vancouver and Montreal, and was the head chef at the Vancouver-based Latin-fusion restaurant, Cuchillo, before starting Tultepec more recently.

"My passion is to celebrate Mexico under the lens of the dynamic cultural environment I am privileged to live amongst," said Chaumont. 

"I find many parallels with the layers of depth of flavours across cultures. Asian flavours are symbiotic with my childhood memories."

What's on the menu?

At the pop-up, which opens at 5 p.m. on Sept. 21, Chaumont will be presenting a curated set of four dishes, most of which will be brand new, he said.

On the list is CDMX (Mexican) prawn aguachile — a dish usually made by marinating prawns in lime juice and served in a chili-lime marinade with a garnish of cucumber.

Chaumont will be using morita chili, a smoked and dried red jalapeño pepper; shiro miso aioli, a Japanese-inspired condiment; and sesame golden garlic macha — and bringing it all together on a South Pacific tuna tostada.

While meat lovers can settle down with an order of the "Firecracker" beef tartare served along with chicharrón and chipotle ponzu, a popular sweet and sour sauce in Japanese cooking; for vegetarians, there is smoked binchotan (referring to a type of charcoal used in Japanese cooking) cauliflower with coconut and roasted poblano cashew cream and piloncillo (raw Mexican sugar) salsa negra. 

As a fitting finale to the Mexican-Asian culinary experience, customers can order a plate or two of the flan la Tultepec that will come decked out with passion fruit, habanero and a drizzle of horchata caramel. 

Each dish ranges between $12 and $15, and can be washed down with an order of beer from the brewery's tap. 

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