n/Naka

n/Naka is an extraordinary restaurant. Chef Niki Nakayama is a fantastic chef who uses A+ ingredients with a perfect balance of flavors that is plated with incredible artistry. She began her career at Takao, our favorite sushi restaurant in Los Angeles. In fact we were the first customers at Takao.

From their website: “Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, chef Niki Nakayama began her career at the renowned Takao restaurant in Brentwood, working under the guidance of esteemed chefs Takao Izumida and Morihiro Onodera. Committed to exploring new techniques, Niki embarked on a three-year working tour throughout Japan, sampling her way through different regional flavors and immersing herself in the essentials of Japanese cuisine, both traditional and cutting-edge. While working at Shirakawa-Ya Ryokan, (Japanese inn owned by relatives) Niki trained under chef Masa Sato in the art of kaiseki the traditional Japanese culinary practice that emphasizes the balance and seasonality of a dish.”

We had champagne to start, then a chablis from their list, a glass of sake and finally red  wine.

n-champagne

Champagne  – BYO

N-Chablis

Chablis

N-Sake

Sake

n- red wine

Red Wine – BYO

We chose the premium  Kaiseki menu. This was very expensive but it was an extraordinary experience.  I asked them to send me the menu and they did. I have copied it exactly. Basically I will let the photos tell the story.

 

 Saki Zuke

(A PAIRING OF SOMETHING COMMON AND SOMETHING UNIQUE)

n-1

BLUFIN TORO TARTAR, SEA URCHIN, POTATO CHIP

n-2

SNOWCRAB WITH IKURA, ENGLISH PEA SOUP

 

Zensai

(SEASONAL INGREDIENTS PRESENTED AS AN APPETIZER)

N-3

CALAMARI WITH BLUECRAB SQUID INK SAUCE, FRIED RENKON LOTUS ROOT WITH LOBSTER

BLACKCOD MARINATED MISO, SEA JELLY FISH WITH GINGER AND SOY SAUCE

This was unbelievable – absolutely perfect. The lobster was deep fried and you dipped it in the aoli sauce. You then took the quail egg and mixed it with the squid sauce and then ate the calamari. The jelly fish was like a palate cleanser.

 

Modern Zukuri

(MODERN INTERPRETATION OF SASHIMI)

N-4

FRESH JAPANESE SCALLOP, BLACK TRUFFLE, HONEY TRUFFLE, PONZU, GOLD FLAKE

 

 Owan “Still Water”

N-5

HUDSON VALLEY FOIE GRAS, DASHI

 

Otsukuri

(TRADITIONAL SASHIMI)

N-6

OH TORO, SHIMA AJI, HIRAME, SHIGOKU OYSTER, NAMA TAKO

 

 Yakimono

(GRILLED)

N-7

AYU WITH SAUTEED FOIE GRAS SET WITH COMPRESSED WATER MELON

BALSAMIC SOY SAUCE

 

Mushimono

(STEAMED/FRIED)

N-8

KEGANI/ HAIRY CRAB, SHITAKE, MITSUBA, DASHI

 

 Shiizakana

(NOT BOUND BY TRADITION, THE CHEF’S CHOICE DISH)

N-9

N-9 Clearer

SPAGHETTINI WITH ABALONE, PICKLED COD ROE, BURGUNDY TRUFFLES

 

 Niku

(MEAT COURSE)

N-10

JAPAN MATSUZAKA WAGYU BEEF A5

HOUBAYAKI

 

 Sunomono

N-11

HOTARU IKA, JAPANESE CUCUMBER, WAKAME, YUZU MISO

YUZU OMOI , KYOTO, JAPAN

 

 Shokuji

(RICE DISH- SUSHI)

N-12

N-13

AKAMUTSU, TORO, AMAEBI, AJI, IKA, UNI

 

N-14

MISO SOUP

 

 Dessert

N-15

MELON SORBET, ROSE ALMOND MILK GRANITA

POPCORN ICE CREAM, MALTED MERINGUE, CARAMEL ANISE, CHOCOLATE RAISIN

Bottom line: This is an extraordinary restaurant with a talented and dedicated chef with a service team that is equally dedicated. Just be forewarned this is very expensive.

Omelette Casserole

This is a super recipe. I forgot to take a photo so all I have is the wrapped leftovers. By the way the leftovers are wonderful – just a couple of minutes in the microwave to warm.

Omelet

Ingredients

8 eggs

1/2 cup milk

2 tablespoons half and half

1 cup shredded Gruyere – divided into 1/2 cup portions

1 cup diced black forest ham

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh chives

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease 9 or 10 inch casserole dish with nonstick spray

Whisk eggs with the milk and half and half until smooth

Add ham, salt, pepper and 1/2 cup of the cheese. Stir to incorporate.

Pour into the prepared baking dish and  top with remaining cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes or until eggs are just set and golden in color

Remove from oven and sprinkle with chives. Omelette with deflate slightly as it cools

Tip: Replace the ham with sautéed mushrooms to make this dish vegetarian

Providence

Providence is the best restaurant in Los Angeles. I can’t think of any misses whether it be sourcing of ingredients, execution of dishes, creativity, service – this is just a perfect restaurant. We brought special wines as this was a special occasion.

Wines – Champagne – Bellecart- Salmon……..1982 Corton Charlemagne – Dubreuil-Fontaine …..1982 Corton Clos du Roi – Dubreuil-Fontaine

P - Champagne

P - best pic of other wine

P - best pic of 1982

P - cocktail - #1 dish

Cocktail – cremant de bourgogne, st. germaine, yuzu, basil seeds

P - uni #2dish

Uni – white garlic chip, wasabi, serrano chili

P - lox #3 dish

Lox – caviar, gold leaf, dill powder, egg yolk

P - abalone - #4 dish

Abalone – hot to be dipped into wagyu fat fondue

P - tuna - #5 dish

Tuna sashimi, oro blanco (grapefruit), shallot yogurt, nori rice cracker, shiso

P - caviar #6 dish

Royal Oscetra caviar, rose gelee, lemon creme fraiche served with

P - bread with caviar #6

Grilled brioche spread with wagyu fat, lime slice

P - prawn #7 dish

Prawn tartare – ebi furikake, smoked sesame, prawn roe, freeze dried mandarin, nori

P - foie #8 dish

foie gras terrine, mulberry puree, nasturtium leaves, foccacia

not pictured – white asparagus, morels, fava beans

P - Beef - beef #11

Wagyu – smoked miso, smoked sesame, onion, radish, turnip, smoked mustard sauce

It doesn’t get better than this – great good, extraordinary wine and perfect service.

Spago – Beverly Hills

I haven’t been to Spago since the new renovation. We finally made it back and the space is lovely. We sat at our regular table which was the table closest to the garden. We were greeted royally by Tracy and Laurent. Chef Tetsu Yahagi even came out of the kitchen to greet us. This is service that is A+++.  We didn’t know if they still did a tasting menu that was specially created for frequent diners. Chef Yahagi said he was happy to do a special tasting menu and we where thrilled as he is a terrific creative chef who executes each dish to perfection. Bottom line – Spago is still one of the best restaurants in Los Angeles and we won’t wait so long to return. We ordered Pierre Peters champagne from their list to start. We BYO’d our white and red wine.

S- white wine

BYO red wine

S - red wine

BYO white wine

S - tuna in cone

Signature dish – spicy tuna tartar in a sesame miso cone

S - 2nd app - macaroon

Smoked salmon mousse in a tomato cracker on the right, oscetra caviar, maple syrup macaroon, bacon confit, egg yolk jam on the left

S - 3rd didh - caviar:egg

Sterling Farms white sturgeon caviar, sunny side up egg, rye crisp, potato chip espuma

S- oysters

Tomales Bay Oysters 3 ways

a. Raw oyster with leek ash mignonette

b. Fried oyster beignet with squid ink aioli

c. Oyster salad, chili caviar, baby leeks marinated in oyster juice

S- chawan mushi

S- chawwan mushi 2

Six Hour Abalone “Chawan -mushi,” Petrified Chicken “Dashi” Faux “Bottarga,” Chives

S- uni

Buckwheat noodles, Santa Barbara uni, nori compote

S- dover sole

Multi-grain crisp Dover Sole, mascarpone emulsion, deep-fried bones (edible and crisp) English peas, bacon ragout

S- pasta with truffles

Sweet pea agnolotti, celery root, parmigiano reggiano, French black truffles

S-lamb

Grilled Sonoma Lamb Rack,  Homage to “Pre-Sale”, French Brittany seaweeds, “Kobu-jime” Cucumber, Glasswort, Olives, Emulsion of mushroom, lamb jus and chicken stock

A wonderful meal served beautifully – can’t ask for better than this.

Bazaar

Hard to believe that it has been almost five years since we have eaten at Jose Andres’ Bazaar. We tend to order our favorites as we know the kitchen will do them right. Jose Andres doesn’t have to be there to deliver a great meal – he has trained his kitchen staff to be extraordinary. This is not a restaurant that is an outpost restaurant with an absent chef – this is a well-oiled “machine” that delivers excellent well-executed food.

I will do the wines first:

B- Krrug

BYO Krug to start

B- Chablis

Then Chablis

B- first wine

Final BYO Wine

B- cottton candy

Cotton Candy Foie Gras – the cold foie gras terrine is rolled in corn nuts then encased in the sweet cotton candy – thank goodness foie gras is back in California – a wonderful beginning.

B- tortilla

Tortilla de Patatas “New Way” – warm potato foam, caramelized onion with a slow cooked egg 63 and topped with chives and crispy small dice of croutons – I did miss the hollowed out “egg presentation” but the taste was perfect

B- caviar

American Caviar Blini – Crème fraîche, steamed buns, caviar and topped with lemon air – a one bite wonder

B- taco

Japanese taco – BBQ eel, shiso leaf, cucumber, wasabi, chicharron – The cucumber functioned as the wrapper and the eel was sushi bar spectacular. The chicharron (the skin of the pork)  were deep fried and served as the crunchy topping for the eel.

B- shrimp

Sautéed shrimp, garlic, guindilla pepper, parsley puree – perfectly cooked shrimp with perfect saucing – we inhaled this dish and then immediately asked for bread to sop up the sauce

B- croquetos

Croquetas de pollo – Chicken and béchamel fritters – an old favorite

B- Philly

“Philly Cheesesteak”- air bread filled with oozing cheddar cheese and topped with Wagyu Beef – I just love this dish and make it a point to order it every single time.

B- Ham

Acorn-fed, free-range Ibérico ham —- Jamon Iberica de Bellota Fermin – – this ham is extraordinary and worth the extravagance. It is served with Catalan style toasted La Brea baguette with tomato –

Bazaar is fun – not fine dining but good food. We like going early before the “crush.”

Superbowl Spectacular

Our friends Corry and Martha are key executives with California Specialty Farms—Where Produce Meets Art. We were treated to the beauty of their product filled with wonderful fruit in these fabulous watermelon sculptures made especially for our Super Bowl Party. They have designers who sculpt fruits and vegetables. For the Super Bowl they had their experts carve up watermelons with the team logos—amazingly creative.

For more on their fabulous company:

http://www.californiaspecialtyfarms.com/catalog/category.aspx

watermelons

The incredible watermelons

Providence

I am beginning to sound like a broken record but I have to say it again Providence is the best fine dining restaurant in Los Angeles. Chef Michael Cimarusti rightfully deserves all the accolades he has received. This meal with friends was stupendous, We were lucky to dine at the chef’s table.

P - kitchen

Our view of the kitchen from the chef’s table.

P - Champagne

BYO Champagne

P - 1. salon gougere

Alder smoked wild king Salmon gougere, lemon creme fraiche, caviar, dill – just a perfect first bite

P - 2. Uni

Uni with coconut, and tapioca puffed rice –  Chef knows we love uni and this was an innovative and tasty rendition

P - second win

BYO 2nd wine

P - 3 GrilledSaba

Grilled Japanese Goma Saba —  Sesame Mackerel (Goma is Japanese for sesame seed).  Saba is a syrup made from freshly squeezed grape juice, also known as must.

P - 4 abalone

Wild Tasmanian Abalone Yuzu

P - 3rd wine

Third BYO wine

P - 5- Wagyu

Ficelle (cigars) – Red wine braised Wagyu, feuille de brick, ume aioli (Japanese plum), celery leaf – just delicious

P - 4th wine sautrene

4th BYO wine

P- 6 Squid Bolognese

Squid Bolognese, chopped swordfish, squid, parsley, basil, tomato compote – this was stupendous

P - 7 John Dory

John Dory, English peas, lardo de bellota, black truffle, fume de poisson

P - 8 Cod

Japanese Cod, roasted sweet potato, pickled turnip vinaigrette

P - fifth wine

5th BYO wine

P - 9 - foie gras

YIPPPEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Foie Gras Grillee, sour plum powder, mulberry puree with port, nasturtium leaves tossed in foie gras fat

P - 10 - loup de mer

Wild Line-caught French Loup de Mer- turnip puree, brown butter foam, nori powder, smoked sesame seed, puffed buckwheat

P - 11 - dessert

Chocolate Frenet Branca Cremeau, tarragon ice cream, roasted lemon puree, chocolate cake crumbs

This was a fantastic meal. Our friends were as impressed as we were. My grade for the meal – A+


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