I believe that good food (really good food… not just yummy or delicious) is one that changes the way I see food. And that is exactly how I would describe the Seared Tuna Nicoise Salad by Chez Nous.
Nicoise Salad, or Salade Niçoise as the French call it, is a composed salad. It is pronounced as “niˈswaz.” Various sources describe traditional Nicoise Salad in different ways. Some sources describe it as having potatoes and beans in equal parts. Different sources list various ingredients as traditional ingredients of the salad. If there’s one thing all sources agree on, it is that it is dressed with a vinaigrette.
Most of the Nicoise Salad that we see in restaurants, modern recipe books, and even on blogs seem to be based from “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” The book calls it a Mediterranean Combination Salad. It lists the usual ingredients in the salad.
Tuna, anchovies, tomatoes, potatoes, green beans, hard-boiled eggs, and lettuce are the usual elements for this appetizing combination, and you may arrange the salad in any manner you wish.*
Do a Google image search for Nicoise Salad and you’ll know what I mean.
Most restaurants use canned tuna for it and I am not fond of uncooked canned tuna. Needless to say, Nicoise Salad does not interest me. And I usually love salads.
I have heard of Chez Nous’ Nicoise Salad and it made me curious. Seeing it’s description on the menu made me excited. It is listed as “Seared Tuna Nicoise Salad” and described as “Seared Sesame Tuna, Lettuce, French Beans, Honey-Lemon Dressing, Deep Fried Anchovy.” Whew! The Seared Sesame Tuna is enough to make me happy.
When I saw the salad, I was not just excited but really . It is nothing like other Nicoise Salads I have seen or tried. If I sound like I am exaggerating or medyo OA, I offer no apologies. It was as if the Chef knew exactly everything I love and put them all together. LOOK!
Where do I begin? Perfectly cooked fried egg and deep fried anchovy over a bed of fresh greens. I am a sucker for a perfectly cooked fried egg with a runny yolk. It is a pleasant combination of textures and flavors that will make any good dish, even better. I mean… serve me a perfectly cooked fried egg any time of the day and I will be happy. When eating this Nicoise Salad, break the egg, chop it up, and make sure to have a bit of egg in every bite.
Add to that a deep fried anchovy. It is just one single piece but that just one piece provides the perfect serving of saltiness and texture that contrasts with the egg. A bed of fresh greens is always a delight. It is the perfect vessel to catch the rich egg yolk and egg whites and a great companion to all the other components in the dish.
This luscious goodness is surrounded by crisp beans, carrots, potatoes, cucumber, and olives. Don’t forget the olives. All the components were the right size and meticulously prepared.
And of course, Seared Sesame Tuna. Seared Tuna is awesome, Seared Sesame Tuna is even more awesome. It is tender and tasty with no hint of unpleasant fishiness. Sesame seeds are always a delight. In this dish, it provides a nutty flavor that complements the tuna. It is a welcome touch of orient flavor in a classical French dish. The tuna is drizzled with what I think is Balsamic Vinaigrette. The amount of it is just right and provides acidity to the protein.
Eat the tuna on its own and it will whet your appetite for more. Eat it with all the other salad components, and you will definitely love this dish as much as I do.
Everything is tied together with a light Honey-Lemon Dressing. The dressing is light, with the right combination of sweetness and acidity.
No doubt about it, Seared Tuna Nicoise Salad by Chez Nous is one of my most favorite dishes of all time. It made me appreciate Nicoise Salad and renewed my enthusiasm for salad. I now have higher expectations every time I order salad from any restaurant. It should not just be a mix of vegetables with just any ldressing. Every component should be treated with kindness and every part should be as important as the next. I love salads but this one is a notch above all other salads I have tried. Hats off to Chef Chino San Jose.
This salad demonstrates the amount of care that Chez Nous puts into its dishes. And note that one plateful can be eaten as your entire meal. And you can have this plate of great dish for only PhP185. Each dish I have tried at Chez Nous is prepared as meticulously as this salad. They take local ingredients and highlight it through international cuisine specialties. At affordable prices.
Give yourself a treat. Treat yourself to a meal at Chez Nous.
Chez Nous is located along Padre Gomez Street corner Roxas Boulevard, Davao City. It is right in front of its mother restaurant, Chippens Buffet Restaurant. They are open Mondays to Saturdays, 9:30 am to 9 pm. For inquiries and reservations you may contact them at +6382-2953439. For more information, check out the Chez Nous Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/ChezNousDavao/. Check out the hashtag #ChezNousDavao on Instagram and Twitter for posts on Chez Nous.
Map to Chez Nous:
“Mastering the Art of French Cooking” by Simone Beck, Louisette Berthole, and Julia Child, page 542.