Korean Royal Cuisine Progression Dinner at Yong Su San

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).

 

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SHUTTERED:  Modern Mexican Cuisine by Chef Diego Hernandez at Verlaine

SHUTTERED:  Modern Mexican Cuisine by Chef Diego Hernandez at Verlaine

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

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Sorrel Tamal – Corn masa, sorrel juice and cheese, mole amarillito, swiss chard, onion ashes
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Grilled Half Dozen Oysters – Fresh sage, warm butter, lemon
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Beef Tartare – Ginger, chive, kalamata olive, arugula, egg yolk sauce
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Whole Baby Beetroot – Smoked and roasted garlic puree, hibiscus powder, dried cheese
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Ceviche of the Day – Tostada, avocado, mayo
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Whole Baby Carrots – Carrot orange ginger puree, carrot top salad
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Fish of the Day – Ash crust, spinach chilpete, swiss chard stem, guisado, russian kale, preserved lemon
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Suckling Pig – Sweet potato, salsa madre, smoked squash
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Suckling Pig – Sweet potato, salsa madre, smoked squash
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Sauce and accoutrements for Suckling Pig
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Beet Biscocho – Orange creme, beet apple gel, cacao sorbet
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With Chef Diego Hernandez

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SHUTTERED: Bites at Superbite in Portland (PDX)

SHUTTERED: Bites at Superbite in Portland (PDX)

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.

SUPERBITE, 527 SW 12th Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97205, Telephone: (503) 222-0979

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Griled Shitake, Miso-Porcini Marshmallow, Sauternes Glaze
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Duck Croquette a L’Orange, Crispy Duck Rillettes, Tangerine Aioli
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Dungeness Crab, Celery Root Tortilla, Sesame Mayo, Orange, Tobiko
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Dungeness Crab, Celery Root Tortilla, Sesame Mayo, Orange, Tobiko
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Salmon Crudo, Hibiscus Ponzu, Pickled Jalapeño, Shiso
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Salmon Crudo, Hibiscus Ponzu, Pickled Jalapeño, Shiso
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Salmon Tartare, Caperberry, Sour Cream, Chive, Potato Chip, Horseradish
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Salmon Tartare, Caperberry, Sour Cream, Chive, Potato Chip, Horseradish
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Beef Tongue “Spam” Musubi, Cucumber, Chinese Hot Mustard
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Sphaghettios, Fresh Truffle, Irish Butter, Parmigiano
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Sphaghettios, Fresh Truffle, Irish Butter, Parmigiano
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Whoops, can’t recall what this dish is.
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Grilled Bavette Steak, Potato-Bacon-Onion Skewer, Sauteed Mustard Greens, Balsamic Soy Cream
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Grilled Bavette Steak, Potato-Bacon-Onion Skewer, Sauteed Mustard Greens, Balsamic Soy Cream

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Fourme D’Ambert Blue Bite, Chocolate, Dates, Roasted Cashew / Crémeux de Bourgogne Bite, Candied Apple, Truffled Pistachio
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Fourme D’Ambert Blue Bite, Chocolate, Dates, Roasted Cashew
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Crémeux de Bourgogne Bite, Candied Apple, Truffled Pistachio

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Dinner at Commerson in Miracle Mile

Dinner at Commerson in Miracle Mile

Having read that Sascha Lyon, formerly of “Baltazar” and “Dauphine,” was manning the kitchen here at Commerson, I decided that a visit is in order here.  Located at the northeast corner of La Brea Avenue and 8th Street in the Miracle Mile area, I had no expectations here.

However, with their tremendously attentive and accommodating service, we were able to drop our guard and enjoy what was being offered by Commerson.

And what they offered were dishes that were prepared well, with portions large portions, and delicious flavors.

The Grilled Rachlette Sandwich was decadent and very filling.  This dish, itself, can be a meal on it’s own.  The creaminess of the melted Rachlette cheese with the juicy crimini mushrooms and the super buttery grilled bread gave us bite after bite of deliciousness.

I also ordered the Filet Mignon with Foie Gras.  The foie was a very generous portion size, and it was seared and seasoned beautifully. Every bite was buttery, and you could taste that wonderful delicate flavor of the foie.

This place is a nice welcomed addition to the super packed LA restaurant dining scene.

Commerson Restaurant, 788 South La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90036, Telephone: (323) 813-3000, http://commersonrestaurant.com/

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WILD CAUGHT PACIFIC YELLOWTAIL POKE toasted corn nuts, avocado, soy-yuzu marinade, tortilla chips

 

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GRILLED READING RACLETTE SANDWICH ON LODGE BREAD / crimini mushroom, bloomsdale spinach, red onions, whole grain mustard aioli

 

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CAESAR SALAD WITH NIMAN RANCH ALL NATURAL BACON / organic romaine, grana padano crisps

 

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RADICCHIO TREVISO, CASTELFRANCO AND ENDIVE SALAD candy cane beets, praliné grains, feta vinaigrette

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CHARRED WILD CAUGHT SPANISH OCTOPUS / creamy mascarpone polenta, puttanesca

 

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WILD PACIFIC WHITE SHRIMP AND CHORIZO BURGER avocado, pepper jack, broccoli sprouts, spicy sauce

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A PARISIAN DIVERSION escargots, garlic butter, french fries, baguette

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SEARED WILD CAUGHT ATLANTIC SEA SCALLOPS cauliflower, jerusalem artichokes, preserved summer truffle

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ROASTED CREEKSTONE FARMS PETIT FILET MIGNON WITH SEARED ROUGIÉ FOIE GRAS gratin dauphinois, bordelaise sauce

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LOUPE DE MER, Day’s Special 

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MEYER LEMON ETON MESS / Lemon Curd, Meringue, Pound Cake, Whipped Creme Fraiche

 

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Celebrating My 50th at 3 Michelin Starred “Quince”

Celebrating My 50th at 3 Michelin Starred “Quince”

I discovered Quince a few years back when I was doing research, planning for a wine trip with a few friends.  Quince never made it to the final itinerary, so I bookmarked them for a future trip.

Cut to October 2016, when the new Michelin ratings were published.  Quince gained their third Michelin star.  Quite a huge accomplishment, which placed them in a list with other SF Bay Area 3 Michelin starred restaurants which include The French Laundry, Restaurant at The Meadowood, Manresa, Benu, and Saison.

After reading about this, I knew I just had to pay a visit to them.  And with my 50th birthday coming up in February, I thought this would be the perfect time to experience the pleasures of top notch fine dining.  I originally had planned to dine here on my birthday day, but with untimely illness and predicted stormy weather, I had to postpone my trip to the first weekend of March.

The dinner at Quince was simply the best dining experience I ever had, even outperforming my LA favorite, n/naka.  The staff was impeccably dressed.  The service was top notch and highly attentive.   The food was gorgeously plated, and it was bite after bite of deliciousness.

Being a milestone birthday, I was treated by Chef Michael Tusk to additional courses that were masterfully prepared, as well as a pour of the 1967 vintage of Travaglini Gattinara.

Chef Tusk and his staff have made this evening a truly unforgettable one.  Dinner here at Quince was near 4 hours long, but they more than exceeded my expectations.  Time to save up and hope to dine with them again…

 

Dim Sum at SF’s Dragon Beaux

Dim Sum at SF’s Dragon Beaux

Owners of the very popular dim sum palace, Koi Palace, opened up Dragon Beaux in the Richmond District 2 years ago, and it’s still running strong.

What sets many of the popular dim sum palaces in San Franciso apart from those in Los Angeles is the fact that they (SF) serve an array of dim sum items that are unique to them and Koi Palace.

One example would be the Five Guys Xiao Long Bao (which was really a serving of 5 xiao long bao (aka Soup Dumplings).  Each is made out of different ingredients, both with the filling for the dumpling and the dumpling skin itself.  Green is for Kale; Red is for Beets; Black is Squid Ink & Black Truffle; Yellow is for Tumeric & Crab Meat; and lastly, a traditional soup dumpling with a marinated ground pork filling.

Enjoyed the majority of the dishes, but these dishes are pricier than the dim sum palaces in the LA/OC area.  At least they were tasty, and you didn’t feel as if you were gouged in the wallet (unlike Yank Sing, where any dim sum item that contains shrimp is priced over $10 per plate!

The bill here was about $70.00 plus tax and gratuity.

Dragon Beaux, 5700 Geary Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94121; Telephone: (415) 333-8899.

Soft-Opening:  Chef’s Tasting Menu at Chengdu Impression

I read about Chengdu Impression’s soft-opening on EaterLA.com.  Chengdu Impression (not to be confused with Chicago’s Chengdu Impression, which is unrelated) is a restaurant chain in China, that, like Meizhou Dongpo and Hai Di Lao, has opened its first location in the United States.  CI is known for being a more upscale Sichuan restaurant, providing an elegant and tastefully designed and decorated space for diners to enjoy elevated versions of Sichuan favorites such as Kung Pao Shrimp, Ma Po Tofu, and Fish with Pickled Green Peppers.

The service here is very attentive and polite, with a majority of the staff being bilingual (Mandarin and English) and even trilingual (Mandarin, Cantonese and English).  They have some issues to work on, such as the timing of the service of each course (at times they were ready to serve the next course just as soon as half of the table finished with the current course).

The food itself is a good representation as to the style of the Sichuan dishes they serve, and it was tasty, with some dishes packing a good bit of heat.  At $45 per person plus tax and gratuity, it seemed to be a good bargain for those who are accustomed to tasting menus from having dined at the likes of Maude, Patina, or even Papilles.  But for those who mainly dine at Chinese restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley, the price is a bit high for the amount of food served.

The tasting menu is being offered during dinner hours and on weekends.  A separate lunch menu is available only during weekdays, and that’s where you have the ability to order a la carte as well as being able to try dishes that are not featured in the tasting menu.  I will definitely go back for that.

Chengdu Impression, 21 East Huntington Drive, Arcadia, California 91006, Telephone: (626) 462-9999.  No website as of this posting.  Generally open from 11:30 am to 2:00pm and 5:3opm.  Call for exact hours.  Parking in the rear.  Reservations highly recommended.