September's Can't-Miss Dish

By Ellen Bhang · 09/04/2019

Looking for a no-fail, mouthwatering, gonna-tell-your-friends-about-it plate? Each month, Boston Globe columnist Ellen Bhang highlights the dish you need to try right now—and something to sip alongside it.

On the plate: Market Vegetable Rice Bowl

Where to find it: At Whaling in Oklahoma, chef-owner Tim Maslow is at the helm of a South End dining destination that feels entirely lighthearted. Even the restaurant’s name—referring to a law prohibiting whale hunting in the landlocked state—reflects a playful vibe. Maslow, who shuttered his first restaurant Ribelle in 2016, is back. This time, he’s cooking up exuberant interpretations of Japanese comfort food. On a sunny weekend morning, Whaling’s doors are open wide, creating an indoor-outdoor space that welcomes both the bar crowd and diners on the plant-accented patio.

Notes on the nosh: A brunch dish called Market Vegetable Rice Bowl—rice topped with vegetables and a soft-boiled egg—sounds super simple. But dig in, and it’s apparent that you’re in skilled hands. Maslow and co-chef Matt Hummel grill late-summer vegetables over binchotan, a clean-burning Japanese charcoal that lends delectable smokiness to an ever-rotating array of peak-season produce. Recently, summer squash, cherry tomatoes, and sweet corn were on offer, drizzled with citrus-poppyseed dressing. Even the sushi-grade rice beneath those vegetables harbors a secret. Pearlescent grains are steamed in the umami-rich liquid resulting from soaking kombu, a hearty kelp destined for savory broth.

Sip alongside: The Spicy Miso Bloody, garnished with an olive and a bright green shiso leaf, wins the prize for most inventive brunch cocktail. Beverage manager Colin Mason combines an earthy dab of house-made miso (this one is crafted from yellow split peas) with tomato juice and vodka, but doesn’t stop there. Grated white radish, ginger, and the fiery Korean chili paste gochujang make this libation a zippy riff on a classic.

Pro tip: Market Vegetable Rice Bowl is also available off-menu every night of the week—just ask.

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