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Crudo Bar

There is no way to convey how incredible our experience was at Crudo Bar with Chef Sugie. Chef Rugelio had promised to arrange a special dinner with Chef Sugie and boy did both chefs deliver big time. It was extraordinary.

First off, Chef Noriyuki Sugie worked with one of our favorite chefs in France, Michel Trama in Puymirol. We immediately recognized some of Trama’s influence. His next stop was as chef de partie with Charlie Trotter in Chicago. The globe-trooting chef then moved half-way around the world to work for chef Tetsuya Wakuda in Sydney, before opening his own Restaurant VII with Harunobu Inukai, also in Sydney that was named “Best New Restaurant” by The Sydney Morning Herald.  The next step was to become chef de cuisine for Asiate at the Mandarin Oriental in New York. That is one incredible resume for this very talented chef.  

Nori’s cuisine is a harmonious balance of flavors that reflects a subtle fusion of French and Japanese influences. He has an eye for minute details from seasonings, flavors, textures, to how a dish is plated and even to the serving dishes.

Only one other couple was sitting at the bar and they ordered one or two things. The few tables that were occupied opted for the standard fare. The Westfield Mall was busy with people gorging on Ben and Jerry’s ice cream sundaes just outside the Breadbar. Little did they know we were experiencing a culinary journey of the highest level. Another huge plus was that Chef Sugie, as he was only cooking and serving just the two of us, chatted with us the entire evening. It was a foodie’s version of heaven on earth – great food plus stupendous conversation. We owe both Chef Rugelio and Chef Sugie a huge thank you for an unparalleled and unbelievable experience.

The chefs

 

 Amuse – a small dish of beets, olives, cucumber, carrots plus toasted walnuts and almonds.

 

First course – Blini with caviar – light as air blinis mounded with a generous serving of caviar – perfect with the champagne.

 

Second Course – Mirugai Ceviche with green papaya, mango, beets,  fresh coconut, tapioca pearls, thai chili, coconut juice, Kaffir greens, ginger and lime juice. This might sound like a lot going one and a jumble of flavors, but it was exactly the opposite. It was so balanced and subtle with each flavor enhancing the mirugai, rather than detracting from  it.

 

Third Course – Marinated Kanpachi, spicy jicama, taro roots, julienne of leeks, shiso, chili vinaigrette served with a tall glass of gazpacho dotted with basil seeds. The gazpacho was unlike any I have ever had – this was smooth and creamy without one note of acidity. The kanpachi dish was actually a bundle with the kanpachi functioning as the outer “wrapping” for the jicama, taro and leeks. This was a wondrous combination with just enough heat from the chili vinaigrette.

 

Fourth Course – This dish was a masterpiece – whimsical plus delicious. A potato had been cut into noodles using a Japanese turning vegetable slicer. On top of the potato noodles was a layer of tofu mousse, Japanese uni and mountain caviar. Bonito jelly ringed the plate. Again there was a wondrous layering of flavors and textures.

 

Fifth Course – Remember John, that scallop hating gentleman – he ate every bite of this scallop dish and loved it. Scallop “ravioli” with scallop mousse topped with crispy bacon bits. The scallop was thinly sliced and had been slowly poached to a barely cooked stage. The scallop and cauliflower mousse was raw and had been made in a robot coupe. (It definitely helps to have the chef in front of you, explaining everything in great detail.) We both inhaled this dish, wishing for more, but definitely of the Thomas Keller school of the law of diminishing returns.

 

Sixth Course – Mussels and thin slices of chorizo in a rich coconut broth with basil. This was very rich and as much as I wanted to slurp every bit of the broth, I was afraid to fill up as we had a lot more to go. I did eat every plump mussel and every slice of chorizo, though.

 

Seventh Course – Slow poached egg with warm dashi jelly, fried chick peas and fried sage.  Once again Chef Sugie created a dish with great flavor and textural contrast – crunchy chickpeas with warm quivering jelly and runny yolk egg.

The runny yolk

 

Chefs Rugelio and Nori blowtorching the monkfish

 

 Eighth Course – Medallions from a torchon of foie gras were artfully arranged next to identical rounds of monkfish liver, the foie gras of the sea. Japanese salted plum enhanced the flavor of the foie while pickled cherry was the accompaniment for the foie. Just perfect.

 

We were then presented with a basket of flat bread, seasoned with shichimi pepper, nori and white sesame seeds. We made a decision to stay away from the bread as we didn’t want anything but these wondrous courses from Chef Sugie.

 

Ninth Course – Pork Belly with sweet corn polenta – the pork belly was superbly done and polenta delicious.

 

Served side by side with this was the black cod slider – mizuna, pickles, wasabi tartar, spicy red chimichurri – this was just for us to try as it wasn’t really a part of the tasting menu. Since this will be on the Breadbar menu, after Chef Sugie leaves, I just had a bite.

 

Tenth Course – Flank steak with Portabella mushroom, Carrot Parisienne, Braised Kale and Asparagus – an excellent pairing with the wine and again just delcious.

 

Eleventh Course – Peanut Butter crème Brulee – John devoured this – I was getting full, so I didn’t do my part – intense peanut butter flavor and again executed perfectly.

 

We BYO’d wine from our cellar.

Krug NV   This is a recent release of the NV Grand Cuvee.  I enjoyed it but thought it was a bit softer with less bite than the previous Krug we have had.  It is possible that I’m not discriminating enough with my palate as we have been drinking the 1985 and 1990 more than the Grand Cuvee. I’ll have to have my son try this and see what he thinks.

2002 Dageneau Silex   This is always a spectacular wine. The minerality was absolutely perfect with the early dishes Chef Nori created.  He got it right from the start.

2006 Le G de Chateau Giraud   We don’t drink a lot of white Bordeaux.  Rare wine had featured this second label from Ch. Giraud.  I tried it because of our knowledge of Giraud.  It is an excellent, dry Bordeaux that went very well with the second tranch of fish courses.  We only drank 50% of the bottle.  I’m sure the chefs enjoyed it after work.

1996  Charmes Chambertin, Arlaud  This wine is showing perfectly.  It is more cherries than raspberries.  It was perfect with the foie and cherry dish the chef prepared.  The wine is light but deep and very well balanced.  It was also perfect with the pork and beef dish that were both small and well conceived.

1996 Ch. Giraud 350 ml [small bottle]   I thought it would be fun to have the Sauternes along with the Le G   I understand it to be the same grapes, but the G has no botritis so very little sugar.  The “real thing” has been consistently excellent in the many vintages we have tasted.  Fortunately, we have a good supply of ’88, ’89, ’96.   Our friends have sold the Chateau, but we still remember visiting years ago.

This was a sensational experience from beginning to end. There are no words to express my gratitude to both Chef Rugelio and Chef Sugie.  

 

Menu

 

 

 

 

Crudo Bar

We were so happy to hear that Bread Bar extended the guest chef event with Chef Sugie. The only downside of the evening was finding a parking space at Westfield Shopping center in Century City. We resorted to valet parking.

I had made the decision to get there early so we could be ahead of the rush and really have some one on one time with Chef Sugie. Unfortunately, Chef Sugie wasn’t there and I was slightly worried that this would be a dining disaster. Chef Rogelio was more than up to the task; he had worked with Ludo during Ludo’s guest chef event and he has certainly mastered Chef Sugie’s signature dishes.

Chef Rogelio                      

 

Unfortunately, many of the dishes I wanted to try were not on the menu i.e. the monkfish liver and foie gras terrine, uni, shima aji, mirugai.

We told Chef Rogelio we wanted omakase, had no food allergies or dislikes and we were in no hurry.

1. Pickled Beets (several varities of red and striped), micro chives, walnuts and almonds – a great first nibble

Beets                      

 

2. Salmon croquettes with a Tomatillo dipping sauce – excellent

 

Croquettes                      

3. Lobster seviche served in an upside down hollowed out lime, with young coconut, jalapeno, red onion, coriander, tapioca, lime juice – this was listed on the menu as mirugai seviche, But Chef Rogelio explained that the Century City crowd were afraid of mirugai and wouldn’t order it. What do they know??? Still an excellent dish, although I would have preferred the mirugai.

Seviche                      

 

Empty Lime Shell

Empty lime shell                       

Bread was then presented – a flat bread selection with shichimi pepper, nori and white sesame seeds.

Breads                      

 

4. Blue Fin Tuna Tartare, pickled fennel, dry capers, pistachios, sushi rice puree, extra virgin olive oil and topped with crispy fennel. This was sensational and the quality of the tuna superb. There is absolutely no stinting on ingredient quality.

Tartare                      

 

A word on the service – it was exceptional – we didn’t want for anything – Chef Rogelio’s timing of the dishes was perfect and every server was quick to meet any and all of our needs.

 

5. Hamachi sashimi, grated lemongrass, daikon radish, hijiki, pea shoots, hibiscus ponzu – another winner.

Hamachi                      

 

6. Crab guacamole, wild rice puff, lemon confit, preserved lemon puree – a thinly sliced avocado served as the bottom and cover for the crab with the puffed rice adding the textural crunch – also excellent

 

Crab                      

 

7. Shishitou pepper, edamame, lime salt – this was boring – after a couple of bites, I had enough.

Soy beans                      

 

8. Beef Carpaccio, grated pecorino (aged and smoked in grape leaves), extra virgin olive oil, mizuna. The beef had been spiced with Chinese 5 spice and then seared. Again ingredient quality was superb.

 

Carpaccio                      

 

9. Beet tartare (roasted), goat cheese, olive oil, cornichons. golden beets, mache salad and a tapenade sauce – good

Beet tartare                       

 

10. Lobster soup with Crispy Chickpeas. This was a surprise – delicious. Chef Rogelio and I then had an extended conversation about tomalley – they have been tossing theirs. Oh No!!! One of my favorite things

Soup                      

 

Jasper White has a wonderful recipe for Tomalley croutons:

From Jasper White’s Cooking from New England |June 1998

Recipe:

ingredients

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

2 tablespoons chopped onion

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

1/2 cup cooked lobster tomalley

salt and freshly ground pepper

1 baguette (long French bread)

 

preparation

1. Sauté the garlic and onion in 1 tablespoon butter. Let cool somewhat, then mix with the remaining butter and parsley. Whip in the tomalley and season to taste with salt and pepper.

2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice the French bread 3/8 inch thick and toast on both sides. Spread each piece with the tomalley-butter mixture. Place on a sheetpan and put in the pre-heated oven or under a broiler until croutons are crispy and hot. Serve immediately.

 

Back to the meal:

11. Ricotta Gnocchi, brown butter, deep-fried sage. The ricotta is sourced from Norbet of the Cheese Shop in Beverly Hills, LA’s best cheese shop – again quality ingredients. The gnocchi were as light as air.

Gnocchi                      

 

12. Shoestring fries (Yukon gold potatoes) with rosemary, garlic, hickory salt – this was just not good -  the potatoes were cold and basically a let down given the inventiveness of the other dishes.

Fries                      

 

13. 4 different Sliders – Lamb Meatball,  Crab Cake, Salmon and Beer-battered Brie served with mizuna, pickles, spicy red chimichurri – these were OK, but other than the lobster soup and the gnocchi, I much prefer the raw bar more than the cooked items. However, I have heard that the Black Cod slider is sensational.

Sliders                      

 

14. As we had more red wine left, we decided to have a second beef carpaccio.

 

15. Sake Panna Cotta, Strawberry Coulis, granita – delicious

Panna Cotta                      

 

16. White Chocolate Risotto, dried fruit, almonds – also very good

Risotto                      

 

Wines:

NV Champagne Herbert–right on delicious.

2003 Meursault, Martenot-Talbot–clean, spicy, very full bodied, great finish.

1999  Gevery Chambertin, Raphet–excellent, great nose, full of raspberries and flowery fruit…drank beautifully.

 

This was an amazing, wonderful evening – fun, good food and we were treated like the King and the Queen. We are hoping to go back when Chef Sugie is there and have him do a special meal for us, but Chef Rogelio was and is a dedicated and passionate chef. 


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