Originally printed in Real Detroit Weekly on June 1, 2011
Natalie and Mario Araquil migrated from the much warmer environs of Las Vegas to bring their unique style of Thai cuisine to Royal Oak. Open for less than a year, their version of Thai is more concerned with quality ingredients and authentic flavors than anything else. “We know what we have is special and unique,” says Natalie, “we are not Thai by any means, but we love and respect the food.”
Respect is evident in their purchasing habits. “The curry paste and coconut milk we use is different,” says Mario, “We recently ran out of curry paste for a few days.” Where other restaurants might use lesser ingredients, Tongue Thai’d took curry off the menu until their paste came back.
Twisted Curry, a blend of three different curries (yellow, red and green), will be one of the options at Bravo Bravo. A dish developed out of necessity, Twisted Curry arose from pragmatism. While in Vegas, the Araquils ran a Thai restaurant. They used to participate in monthly “First Friday” events, which required them to carry their curry pots down the street to serve the crowds of people. Mario decided to blend the curries one day rather than carrying three pots only one needed to be taken. An ingenious yet simple concept, Twisted Curry is luscious, sweet and perfectly spicy.
Larb, their second dish, is basically a meat salad (take that vegetarians). Traditionally served on a communal platter for sharing amongst family and friends, the Araquils will be sharing their version of Larb with the Bravo Bravo family. The combination of ground chicken, lime juice, red onion, cilantro, Thai chilis, fish sauce and crunchy jasmine rice is both refreshing and comforting.
Crave Lounge is not only Dearborn’s sushi hotspot, but a generally cool place to hang out any night of the week. As Bravo Bravo’s exclusive sushi table, if you’re a lover of raw fish – you know where you need to be. When you’re the only table providing a dish, there is some additional pressure to make sure yours is perfect.
“You can buy a $5000 ad or spend the money on food and market it with excitement and emotion,” says Kal Ramadan, Crave’s manager. Ramadan’s idea is echoed by his executive chef Lamar Farhat.
“We want to present something exciting,” says Chef Farhat, “we’re there to have fun, promote Crave and enjoy the night.” Crave will be presenting three very different sushi tastes: cilantro yellowfin, Manhattan roll and Tempura veggie roll. All are creations of executive sushi chef Jian Li.
The beauty of cilantro yellowfin lies in its simplicity. Thinly sliced tuna is topped with fresh cilantro, Sriracha and scallions. As if that wasn’t enough, a soy vinegar reduction finishes off the dish. Vibrant and rejuvenating, cilantro yellowfin is a dish that demands a second visit. The Manhattan Roll has a little bit of everything for those who cannot decide. And for all of the vegetarians out there, they’ve included the Tempura veggie roll.
Ramadan swears there is always a line for Crave’s table at Bravo Bravo. “We’re passing out our best product,” he says.
Bravo Bravo is no joke. Restaurants are not only catering to guests, but these guests are possible future customers. “We usually see ten percent or more come back to the restaurant after tasting our food at an event,” says Ramadan. Given the size of the guest list, that is a sizeable increase in business.
Wolfgang Puck Grill
We’ve gone from a small, mom and pop carry-out joint (Tongue Thai’d) to a larger chic sushi restaurant/nightclub (Crave) and we finish at an even larger fine dining casino restaurant.
Executive Chef Marc Djozlija loves participating in these events. “We try to do as many events as we can,” says Djozlija, “we’ve been doing the events since we opened three and a half years ago and will continue to.” Bravo Bravo has more of a young professional vibe, so Djozlija sees this as an opportunity for his food to reach an even broader audience.
“I had one guy at Bravo Bravo a couple years ago who kept sending people. He was saying ‘You need to try these.'” Don’t be shy when traversing the tables at Bravo Bravo. If you find something you like, go back for more. “Return customers are what we want at every capacity,” says Djozlija, “You can come by all day long, buddy, I’m just giving the food away.”
Djozlija always amazes at these events. He is perfectly comfortable pulling out all of the stops. “The guest experience has to be over the top. We don’t skimp. I use every penny in the budget and more if I have to.” Whether the dish is sweet or savory, the Wolfgang Puck table is bound to impress.
The goal, of course, with an event like Bravo Bravo is foremost to raise money for a good cause. What better way is there to raise money than by organizing the event around some of the best food and drink in the metro Detroit area? Three tables down, over thirty to go. Jump over to bravobravo.org and plan out the rest of your evening. Be ready, Bravo Bravo only happens once a year.