Hot Plate

Humble hoecakes get the Hollywood treatment at benjy's in the Village (2424 Dunstan, 522-7602). Executive chef James Nakayama adapts a technique he first saw at Robert Redford's Sundance restaurant to make roasted corn cakes fluffy and light without cornmeal. Then he "short-stacks" them with thick layers of cured salmon and serves the assemblage beside a colorful citrus salad sprinkled with lemongrass vinaigrette ($7.95). The miracle is the deep, intense flavor of the salmon: Nakayama credits a two-day dry cure in his exotic spice blend (including lavender and star anise) before in-house smoking. "It's not our most popular appetizer," admits Nakayama. "But I think it's our best.


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