Tampa Bay’s Best Dish: Chim Cút Róti (Vietnamese Quail)
Executive chef Marty Blitz of Mise en Place selects the Vietnamese quail from Song Huong in North Tampa
How did you get into the culinary world?
I lived outside Detroit when I was younger and started working at delis outside the city when I was about 14. It was all I ever knew, really. I went to a local culinary school and got a job at a high-end restaurant, which was my first high-end job. I became an apprentice there and they led me to the culinary industry. I had only worked at delis at the time and they guy I worked under was a master chef. When I left there, I got married and moved to Florida and started as a sous chef and worked my way up around here. I worked at Saddlebrook and RG’s North, who did a lot of rustic, trendy food. I ended up leaving there and starting my business. Mise started as just catering. I did a lot of catering at Ruth Eckerd Hall. I would cook for a lot of musicians like Crosby, Stills and Nash, and the Neville Brothers because of lot of them would come to Ruth Eckerd Hall. I started up the catering company in the building where The Rack is now. We started with one unit of 750 SQ FT and later expanded to four units. That was 25 years ago. The first year we were just catering and then we opened for lunch and down the road, we served dinner.
What was the inspiration behind the menu at Mise en Place?
It’s always been new American and global. Back then, the California cuisine was really the trend and that inspired me. But when I moved to Florida, I started to learn about the cuisine here like Florribean and tropical food. It was new to me and I really liked it so I tried to adapt the restaurant and incorporate southern flavors to the menu.
What made you choose this restaurant for your dish?
We probably come here once every couple weeks. It’s a little rustic place and it always has great food. My wife is the one who actually turned me on to it. She told me they have a won ton soup that’s awesome. You know, everyone has a won ton soup but this one was so much different than any other one I’d ever had. It has egg noodles in it, won ton,s which are like pork dumplings, and it was just so good. Everything I’ve had is just really good. I love Vietnamese food so I’ve been to a lot of these places but this place is great. I always come back because I know it’s good.
What makes this one of the best dishes in Tampa Bay?
It’s one of those dishes that you can get addicted to. It’s cheap and it’s great. You get five per order and it has like a sweet soy glaze that’s almost like chicken wings. It’s one of those things where you eat it and can’t wait to have it again, you think about it when you leave. You get excited when you’re going to eat it. Not only is the quail good here, everything is.
Song Huong is located at 4034 W. Waters Ave., Tampa, FL 33614. For more information, call (813) 880-9676 or visit www.SongHuongRestaurant.com.