Believe it or not, I did not start eating salads (other than those of the potato variety) until the summer before my senior year of college. At some point during my stubborn childhood days, I had decided that raw vegetables tossed together were tasteless and unworthy of the high volume of chews per bite.
But during my summer internship in D.C., I was hanging out with my cousin Christie (who is the author of the best baking blog ever – Ipso Fatto), and she had prepared a salad for a barbecue she was attending later in the day. The salad included hearts of romaine, corn, cherry tomatoes, and a bleu cheese vinaigrette dressing. For some reason, she convinced me to try it, and I had a bite and decided that all salads were not created equal (even though I did not, and still do not, like beau cheese!).
Years later, my appreciation for salads have grown, and the salad that reigns supreme in my book is the Satay Salad from Aloha Salads in Oahu, Hawaii. I ate the Satay Salad no less than three times during a one-week visit to Oahu in January of this year. Although the salad sounds simple enough (grilled chicken breast with julienne carrots, cucumbers, green onions, cilantro, basil, peanuts, crispy wontons, romaine, chopped napa cabbage, and Thai peanut satay dressing), my attempts to recreate it at home are just not quite the same.
And believe it or not, Aloha Salads does not have a branch location in D.C. :). The closest version of the Satay Salad in D.C. is the Siam Salad at Mix’t Greens, the San Francisco-Based eco-gourmet salad chain with locations at Farragut North and Dupont Circle. The lemongrass dressing is the perfect balance of sweet and spicy, and I love the inclusion of herbs on the salad. Mix’t Greens is also one of the few salad places that do not overdress the salad with dressing (I even opt for the “medium” level rather than the “light” level of dressing, which is suprisingly dry, even for me).
Now, if Mix’t Greens could stay open past 4 P.M. and expand to a Chinatown location….
Update 09.04.11: We received a photo from Honolulu of the Satay Salad from my vegetarian friend (hence the tofu instead of chicken):