Joel Huff is the director of food and beverage at Urbane Cafe, a sandwich-and-salad fast casual based in Ventura, Calif. With a fine-dining background and a penchant for global flavors, his offerings are eclectic and flavor forward.
The UC Chicken Salad combines oven-roasted chicken, Greek yogurt, Madras curry, dried cranberries, celery, pecans, cilantro and cranberry chutney aïoli, topped with pickled apple, carrot, cucumber, onion and arugula slaw. And his Roasted Harissa Chicken Sandwich stars spicy Moroccan aïoli, pickled heirloom carrots, red onion and cucumber mix, mozzarella cheese, cilantro and arugula.
Huff’s trifecta of buttermilk, white soy sauce and shiso leaf helps transform the trending Green Goddess profile into an umami-rich, Japanese-informed dressing.
Kewpie mayonnaise acts as the foundation—with the trifecta adding its craveable combination—with cilantro, rice vinegar and green onion rounding out the profile.
“I like the dimensions in this take on Green Goddess. The shiso leaf adds a nice minty note, and the white soy and buttermilk bring savoriness and a little sourness,” says Huff.
One of the ways he has featured the dressing is in a contemporary salad build: Shiso Green Goddess is spooned onto the plate, topped with fried green tomatoes and finished with pickled shima aji (Japanese striped mackerel).
“While visiting a San Francisco farmers’ market, I discovered a great varietal of zebra tomatoes. In my previous life I was a sushi chef, so it inspired me to combine the zebra tomatoes with the shima aji and shiso Green Goddess,” he says. “The flavors work so well together.”