Exotic Asian Cuisine

Fabulous restaurant–its classic contemporary with subtle Asian influences atmosphere is reason alone to visit–not to mention the so called sexy Satay bar. However, be prepared to leave your pocketbook at the table. The food is excellent though, and worth the price for such attention to unique aromatic flavor combinations, creative food presentations, and chic ambiance.

Salamander, a staple to Cambridge for many years, relocated last fall to Trinity Place in Copley Square. The location is perfect–it’s a two minute walk from two T-stops (the orange line’s Back Bay stop and the green line’s Copley Place stop), or if you prefer to drive, parking is easily available at Copley Place for $5 with validation, or there’s valet.
Immediately upon entering the restaurant you’re enraptured by the warm and subtle coloration, varying textures and dimensions, and delicious aromas from the kitchen. The classic contemporary Asian d‚cor combines steel with maple wood and beautiful deep green rustic tiles. The lighting is soft and comes from what looks like papier-mƒch‚ lanterns that are outlined in bamboo. The view from the main dining room is spectacular as it faces Copley Square.

For those who prefer just a drink and maybe an appetizer or two, the bar area is not to be missed. In fact, the Satay bar is perfect for those seeking a more casual place to interact with friends while watching the chef whip up some fabulous culinary delights. But let’s move on to dinner.

After being seated at our table, we were brought a bread combination of sourdough and Indian flat breads with three dipping sauces–a chickpea mash, a tropical papaya sauce, and Indian salt. They were all so different, and each was delicious in its own way.

We decided to share an appetizer and after much consideration, we ordered the Japanese spice cured salmon with ginger burdock shisho leaf and house pickles. Interesting and delectable, though a bit much for us as we’re not too into sashimi.
Our entrees were amazing. I had the restaurant’s signature dish–Lobster, lightly fried with a lemongrass, coconut milk and Thai herb sauce served with noodles and miniature wraps. This dish will go down as one of my all time favorites. The claw meat was pulled out for me and the tail meat easily came out with my fork. But it was the sauce that made the dish simply delicious.

My husband ordered the Ebony wild salmon filet in shishimi broth (a seven spice mixture) with tempura green soba Maki. As expected, it too was wonderful and full of flavor. We passed on wine as we had ordered a cocktail from the bar. However, from what I’ve heard, make sure to check on the price list before ordering. Apparently, there’s a Zinfandel on the list that goes for $17.50 a glass!

Dessert, well let me say, I wish I could’ve ordered all of them. The chocolate spiced pillow fritters with chocolate ganache filling, the crispy dessert spring rolls filled with banana, coconut, and macadamia compote accompanied by dueling dips, and the Chai crŠme caramel with crispy cardamom pistachio tuile were all calling my name.

With the help of our waiter, we decided on the spring rolls–an excellent recommendation by the way. Like the lobster, this dessert will also go down in my little book as one of the best. We devoured it. I could have and would have eaten two if spring break weren’t just around the corner! The filling was delicious–the mashed macadamia nuts seemed to balance out the banana and coconut so that neither was too strong in taste. The dueling dips of caramel and spiced mango and papaya were scrumptious.

Salamander is a wonderful restaurant, and chef-owner Stan Frankenthaler is incredible. Those who know him say his “fusion” tendencies have matured into an independent, idiosyncratic cuisine that holds its own with the great fusion chefs of the world.

I know the price is a bit steep so if you don’t want to allocate your extra funds to dinner, try going for lunch. Or, my recommendation would be to take a friend or sweetheart out for a drink and make sure to order the dessert spring rolls to share! Of note, for those of you who own the Entertainment coupon book, be sure to check out the coupon for Salamander–it’s well worth using!