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The Secret to a Great Caprese: Raw Fish?

The story behind Tapas Tokki's genre-bending halibut caprese.

Read more from the Feast Issue here.

Tapas Tokki chef-owner Jin Jeong’s menu draws on his Korean heritage, along with a smattering of Japanese and Italian influences. His signature halibut caprese is an Asian riff on the Italian classic—one bite instantly dispels any skepticism about pairing fish and cheese.
1998 Homestead Road, #113, Santa Clara

Inside the Dish

Rather than the tomato slices commonly found in caprese salads, Jeong’s interpretation uses peeled cherry tomatoes that he marinates in olive oil and sherry vinegar for “a little layer of flavor.” (And, he notes, there are no tomato skins to get stuck in your teeth!)

For the halibut-swathed mozzarella, Jeong starts by curing the fish overnight between kombu, or dried sea kelp. “That chewy—in a nice way—piece of halibut is full of natural sea flavor and wraps the soft and mild fresh mozzarella,” he says.

Lotus chips make for the perfect garnish, according to Jeong. “The lotus root has a great pattern when it’s cut; plus it is considered an Asian vegetable, and I wanted to add that to the Italian dish," he explains. "It also tastes really good when it’s fried properly.”

In Jeong’s capable hands, even a simple balsamic vinaigrette dressing, drizzled over arugula, has been elevated. “I added a bit of soy sauce for the sashimi piece,” explains the chef, “and brunoised shallot to give it extra crunchiness.”


Originally published in the July/August issue of Silicon Valley

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