Maitake are hunky, dense mushrooms that grow at the base of hardwoods. White stalks fan out to ruffled, almost feathery caps, which is why they otherwise are known as hen-of-the-wood mushrooms. Their earthy, savory flavor comes packed with protein and vitamins.
At Bully Boy, the frilly mushrooms get meaty, intense flavor from precise grilling over binchotan charcoal, which burns cleanly, with a high, steady heat. The mushroom is cooked delicately, with a crispy, seared exterior and a tender core featuring a whisper of smoke. Just enough garlic aioli helps a generous flurry of grana padano cheese stick to the curly edges, with delightfully charred bits. When I try to explain umami in the future, I will think of this dish’s savory swirls of deliciousness.