The Yellow Dog
by Maia Lazar
The Yellow Dog is a relatively new restaurant in Krakow, located on Krupnicza Ulica, right across the street from Karma. Owners Luiza and Trisno opened the place in late April 2011.
The couple met when they worked as chefs at the Marriott Hotel in London. She quit her job there and then went on to work at the United Nations for six years, which was her last job before opening Yellow Dog. Yellow Dog is actually Hamid’s nickname he acquired in the U.K. His friend from Birmingham had a strong accent and kept on calling him “Yellow Duck,” but meant to say Yellow Dog because he worked like a dog, day and night.
Trisno is the main chef, but his wife does “everything else.” Their two children’s names are as unique and special as the restaurant. Alakina Oren (Oren because when Luiza was pregnant, she liked to eat oranges, and Oren is Singlish1 for orange) is three and a half years old, and Pipilotti Montel (Montel means chubby in Singlish) is the youngest at one years old. The first names are neither Polish or Singaporean but are sounds they [the children] will create the meaning of, explained their father.
What to Order
Items I have enjoyed are the Horfun, Roti Bread with Sauce, Fish Curry, and Pho. Having grown up around the corner from a popular Vietnamese establishment, I enjoy the convenience of Yellow Dog’s close distance to the center to satisfy any Pho cravings I might have. My friend had the ginger creme brulee which she greatly enjoyed and I regret not ordering but there is always next time. The Bok Choy and Cantonese roast duck are also excellent.
How to Roast a Cantonese Roast Duck with a bicycle pump
A good bicycle pump is vital. The last one Trisno had broke and didn’t do the job well enough.
He inflates the bird to separate the skin from the meat, and then he blanches it for two minutes to open the pores of the duck. He then dries it out to release the fat, and then it to dry to let the fats drip. When it cools after a half hour, he marinades from the inside by placing his hand inside the duck. After 24 hours, the skin will feel like parchment paper. The duck is then roasted and cooled for 30 minutes. He cannot glaze the duck when its still hot because it wouldn’t stick to the duck. And he can’t do it before roasting because it would burn.
Once that is done—the duck is cut in half and hot oil is poured on the skin and the bird crisps again. Afterwards, the duck is chopped up and doused in hot sauce and ready to eat.
Trisno says despite that it is a lot of work it is worth it. It’s difficult to serve in Poland due to the fact that it has a lot of bones, not so popular here. Chinatowns all over the world do this, but it’s quite difficult for people to accept it and get their fingers dirty. But Trisno won’t compromise. He refuses to remove the bones, preferring to “leave as it is supposed to be.”
This is not adhering to traditional Asian cuisine at this point, although the technique is quite classical. The sauce for the duck is not created as it supposed to be. The taste–not traditional. It’s more, as Trisno puts it, ”Yellow dog’s style.”
Food for everyone at reasonable prices
Food Costs are high all the time, but despite this, Yellow Dog is a regular restaurant, not posh, or fancy, but rather accessible to everyone.
They plan to have interactive cooking classes on Mondays and Tuesdays, starting in late February. The goal is to inspire and enable customers to do similar things at home. In addition, there will be pastes, sauces, chopsticks, and gift cards available for purchase then as well.
Their goal is to support local businesses and charities. In order to fit in with the business map of Poland, they will introduce a local beer along with other new items on their menu starting in February.
They also have well-known wine sommelier Wojciech Lutomski whom they’re working with to introduce new wines on the menu. A half litre of wine will be available for 25 pln.
New Year comes with New Items
They also plan to do catering. They supported the opening of a new swimming pool and have contacts with local ambassadors. Starting in February, there will be new Malaysian items on the menu along with
Cantonese roast duck, and different thaly (curries).
One of the local charities they will support is a local Senior retirement home, where they will collaborate with the residents to tie chopsticks to sell together, and in return, the home will receive a share of the profits from the sale.
Not Fusion, Not Asian, Just Healthy and Regular
Yellow Dog has been described incorrectly as Fusion or traditional Asian cuisine but the owners explained that it is not either. It is a very difficult cuisine to run properly, they said. They have different suppliers, from Berlin, Amsterdam, and Vienna. Items impossible to find in Europe arrive from Singapore, specifically from Luiza’s mother-in-law.
It is important to note that the restaurant is not traditional, and does not try to present itself as an authentic Asian one. Rather, as the owners describe it, it is modern and progressive. Trisno elaborated, “we believe in the evolution of foods, with a slight twist of our own invention. Thirty to forty percent of our dishes are created by us.”
The couple commented on what exactly their restaurant is:
Luiza We try to deliver a healthy food as well, and get rid of ingredients that are not healthy and add vegetables…
Trisno During the winter, nothing grows here except for apples and oranges
Luiza [interjects] Oranges don’t grow here.
Trisno: The emphasis is on progression and Evolution of Food. What is wrong with moving forward?
Luiza We are not European Fusion. Not Fusion. We just work on same basis all the time, our food costs are much higher during the winter. We are not the best businessmen in Winter.
Trisno: We are not the best business people. You have Pizza that costs [them] 2.5 PLN selling for 25. Whereas, we have a dish that costs 14 PLN but that we sell for 19 PLN. So there is less profit and return. We care more about delivering food that I…or we like to eat. Maybe we are stupid but we believe in it.
Luiza: It’s the future of gastronomy.