Dined here on September 13, 2017, but was just a tad to “out of it” to be in the mood to post about this 20+ course tasting. Having started a new job in Santa Monica, it was easy for me to head over to Dialogue for tasting or Uovo for a pasta dinner, but with schools back in session, it was difficult to adjust to the 100 minute average drive to and from work (100 minutes, each way, that is).
Nevertheless, I was excited to try Chef Dave Beran’s food, especially since I had always wanted to go to Alinea in Chicago, but haven’t had the time, nor money. Taking an early reservation in mid-week seemed to be the most beneficial if you’re seeking the lowest prices for this tasting (tax and gratuity included). For me, it was around $191.00 per person, all in.
Sitting at the counter, it was fun watching Chef Beran and his assistant chefs cook and plate each course immaculately, At times, there would be whimsy as well, as can be seen with the French Onion Soup course, where a mouthful of that rich and unctuous French onion broth was encapsulated inside a small onion ball that had cheese melted all over it.
The tasting (and keep that in mind, it’s a tasting, not a hearty dinner that will fill you up) took about 2 1/2 hours, but that’s understandable given the number of courses and the amount of work and timing that needed to be executed flawlessly by Chef Beran and his staff. I enjoyed the tasting and look forward to see what he has in store for his Autumn/Winter Menu, which he will debut next week.
There was so much anticipation back in 2011 when it was announced that the new winner of Bravo TV’s “Top Chef,” Michael Voltaggio was opening his first restaurant on Melrose Avenue. When it finally opened in September 2011, I dined there at least 3 times in the month of October, with 3 different groups of friends, and we all admired and enjoyed his style of cuisine, utilizing molecular gastronomy and new techniques (he was a fan of utilizing ash in his dishes).
Since then ink had switched over from serving shareable plates to a multi-course tasting menu. After a couple of years of each format, ink went back to an a la carte format with a focus on being a steakhouse, offering dry aged Flannery California Reserve Holstein steaks. However, in the last few years, I was distracted by the likes of n/naka and Maude.
Now that I’ve cut back at dining at such higher end places, I was able to consider dining at ink to find out how the food and the offerings have changed over the years, but with the announcement of Voltaggio closing ink after Sunday’s dinner service (July 31st), and opening ink.well soon thereafter on La Cienega in West Hollywood, I decided to make an impromptu stop for dinner last night and took advantage of the DineLA 4-course Caviar Tasting Menu for $95.00.
However, after seeing the Foie Gras Shavings on the regular menu, and being such a lover of foie gras, I added it as a starter before the 4-course tasting, and I was glad I did. The foie was creamy and unctuous.
The Caviar Tasting Menu was lovely, especially the first 2 courses: Smoked Mozzarella and Egg Yolk Gnocchi. The ball of mozarella was wrapped with a layer of leek gel on the outside, creating a bit of whimsy as one had to break through the layer of get to tender and smokey mozzarella. The gnocchi looked like little cylinders of pasta encapsulating creamy egg yolk inside. Then end result reminded me of a play on mac n’ cheese, with add saltiness from the trout roe. Both of these dishes were delicious and surprisingly filling.
While I enjoyed dry aged Holstein filet, I didn’t think there was enough “cheesy caviar” to add to the dish. While the filet was tender and well seasoned, the zucchini strips were a stand out as well. A side of seaweed mashed potatoes was served with the filet.
Out of curiosity, I added a side of the Carolina Gold Rice as well. Whoops, too much carbs! Since I never had it before, it was a treat tasting Voltaggio’s version of it, with the creaminess of the cheese contrasting the airiness and crunchiness of the crispy rice, it was definitely a few bites of fun in my mouth.
Dinner ended with the Caramelized White Chocolate course, which was a nice scoop of rich, sweet, butteriness that was offset by the saltiness of the caviar. Incorporating the aerated blinis and frozen pieces of creme fraiche into one bite with the white chocolate, my mind kept telling me I’m having a deconstructed cupcake. That’s what my mind was telling me. It was a wonderful tasting experience, and I guess a good way to reacclimate myself with Voltaggio’s style of cooking before ink closes, and he moves on to ink well.
In April of this year, Andreas Roller took over the reigns as executive chef, and with a $49 3-course dinner offered by Patina during DineLA Restaurant Week, it was a perfect venue to be able to sample Chef Roller’s cooking.
Service here was impeccable, and our server was sweet and vivacious. She took the time to go discuss about the different types of tasting menus and beverage menus they have.
We ordered the DineLA menu (pictured below), and I added the shaved summer truffles ($20 supplement) to my Brentwood Corn Agnolotti. Tasty, though the bold sweet flavor of the corn seemed to have masked some of the delicate flavors of the summer black truffles.
The dishes were delicious, with the Squid Ink Pasta being the stand out. The texture of the pasta was on the softer, yet firm side. It was well tossed in a delicate sauce made with uni and bottarga. Very unctuous.
I was so satisfied with my experience, that I am looking forward to coming back for either 6-course tasting or the Chef’s Tasting.
Knife Cut Noodling at Shanxi Noodle House in City of Industry
In the East San Gabriel Valley, more and more Asian restaurants are popping up all over from La Puente to Walnut, and from Northern Chinese cuisine to Burmese. Shanxi Noodle House isn’t a newcomer. They’ve been in business for over about 2 years now, only having been discovered by me, when a friend and I needed to find a place to grab a bite while on our way home from checking out the superblooms along the 15 Freeway in Lake Elsinore back in March of this year. Searching through Yelp, we stumbled upon their listing, which has been awarded a good number of 4 and 5 star reviews from Yelpers, and decided to give them a try. The result was enjoying the wonderful layers of flavors as well as different textures in the dishes we tried, particularly of the Crispy Potatoes with Oat Flour Noodle Rolls. After that night, we came back for more. The noodles and dumplings are all house made, and the knife cut noodles are made to order.
Machine knife cuts noodles
Dumplings are all house made
Pan Fried Noodles with Beef
Sliced Potatoes with Knife Cut Oat Flour Noodles
Stir Fried “A” Choy
Pan Fried Dumplings (Potstickers)
Pork & Chinese Chives Meat Pie
Beef Noodle Soup
Spicy Cold Chicken
Pan Fried Potatoes with Oat Flour Noodles
Lamb Noodle Soup
Inside look of the pumpkin cakes
House made scallion rolls/pancakes
House made scallion rolls
Korean Royal Cuisine Progression Dinner at Yong Su San
I’ve heard from some that these progression dinners, aka Royal Cuisine, are more common in North Korea these days than in the South. Not sure how true that is. Multi-course meal served family style, in a formal setting, but not as grand and spectacular as one would see at a Chinese banquet dinner. Nevertheless, it is an interesting experience to partake in at least once.
The dinners are not cheap (about $40 and up per person depending on the menu selected), and while the flavors were there, they were rather muted and not as bold as one would expect from Korean food. Many of the dishes were good, but there are better versions elsewhere.
Yet, this place is packed, and for the most part, diners are seated in their own private dining room, whether it’s for a party of 4 or 20 (advanced reservations required, of course).
Dinner with friends back on Wednesday, April 12, 2017. Modern Mexican cuisine is finally making a footprint in the LA dining scene. Chef Diego Hernandez has a critically acclaimed restaurant south of the border in Ensenada, Baja California, before opening up a restaurant in San Diego. Now, he brings his culinary expertise to LA, and what we got to share was an array of refined, beautifully plated dishes.
The Sorrel Tamal was one of my favorites as the preparation and presentation was nothing one would expect when you order tamal or a tamale. Our dinner was highlighted by a wonderful Suckling Pig. Pass me some more of those housemade tortillas!
Dinner ended with a nice Beet Biscocho, soft, smooth, creamy and not too sweet.
VERLAINE, 8715 West Beverly Boulevard, West Hollywood, California 90048, Telephone: (424) 288-4671
This was where I had my first meal in Portland, when I arrived on May 4, 2017, for a week long getaway visiting the Pacific Northwest. I chose Superbite after reading some good press on them, not realizing that chefs and owners, Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton, were nominated for a James Beard award and finally won (after having lost in 2015 and 2016) the award for best Pacific Northwest Chef.
After studying the menu, I was intrigued to sample just about each of their “superbites,” especially the much lauded Spaghettios, a 3-bite dish with truffles for $7.00. While each of the dishes I tried were wonderfully plated and tasty, none of the superbites truly “wowed” me.
My dining companion echoed the same sentiment. We were particularly disappointed with the Spaghettios as we did not taste any essence of black truffles. I know, it’s only $7.00, but at least it would be nice to see a few crumbs of truffes in the dish.
My favorite superbite was the Dungeness Crab and the Grilled Shitake. The Grilled Shitake sat on top of a Miso-Porcini Marshmallow which had a fun texture, quite similar to a marshmallow but firmer. Whimsical comes to mind.
We did love the one big plate that was ordered, the Grilled Bavette Steak. That was delicious.
In the end, I just chalked this dining experience up as one that went over my head.