Archive for the 'Best dishes of 2008 – United States' Category

Best Dishes of 2008 – United States

These are not listed in the order of preference – just random by restaurant. Some restaurants are represented more than others as we go to those restaurants on a more frequent basis. You will notice a preponderance of uni and fish dishes as this is a personal preference of mine. Also, I do not like huge plates of food and prefer the Thomas Keller “less is more” approach. 



Urasawa (Los Angeles) –  On a small brazier, the Hairy Crab from Northern Japan sits in its shell.  It is topped with sea urchin and the heat from the brazier simmers the broth which consists of crab brains. From a google search, I am guessing this is Kani Miso which references that crab brains, roe and other crab innards are mixed together to form the “broth.”



Urasawa – Goma tofu, Kyoto-style. Tofu made from sesame seeds, stuffed with sweet Uni (urchin “roe”), topped with freshly grated wasabi and gold leaf, served in a light dashi seasoned with shoyu and mirin. 



Urasawa – An absolute wow of a dish – blue fin tuna, red snapper, a pickle from Kyoto, radish(??), nori, uni, caviar and gold leaf. There are no words to convey how great the combination of flavors and textures were in this dish – incredible is an understatement.



Urasawa – Salmon eggs on top of a steamed egg custard. The salmon eggs literally pop in your mouth.



Urasawa – Uni Nikogori – absolutely unbelievable. Fresh Uni, Small Shrimp, Red snapper, Fish eggs served atop Yama no Imo (Japanese Mountain Yam), topped with Pure Gold Flakes.



Urasawa – Thinly sliced Hokkaido Beef was topped with Matsutake mushrroms, uni and shiso. Then Hiro rolled up the beef in a roll. We were then presented with a bowl to which Hiro added water so that steam immediately erupted. The beef was being steamed in front of us. The beef sat on a grate and obviously the stones had been heated to piping hot. It was served with a “radish” mixture and Hiro insisted that we use a generous amount of radish.


Totoraku (Los Angeles) –  Raw Beef Tongue



Providence  (Los Angeles) – Uni 3 ways – from left to right

1. In a hollowed out egg, uni almond elmusion to be drunk through a straw

2. Uni with soft scrambled eggs with chives

3. Uni egg custard



Providence – Japanese eel, seared foie, porcini mushrooms and truffle crushed potato topped with an egg  – this was an Oh My dish – absolutely perfect. 



Providence- Uni, Konbu-dashi, caviar, crème fraiche, crispy rice cracker – the gelee of konbu with the Santa Barbara uni was unctuous and again Chef Mike added texture with the crispy rice cracker. The caviar added a salty element and the crème fraiche seemed to unify the flavors – a wonderful and sensuous dish.


Providence – Scallop Sashimi with cucumber that had been compressed with orange flower water, a brush of soy, mint and topped with cucumber blossom from Yumin’s garden (the chef de cuisine at Providence) Talk about passion – it is so evident in every single ingredient on the plate.


Providence- Uni tempura with burdock and a shiso leaf .  This was absolutely sensational – uni with burdock that was coated in tempura batter and deep-fried. Don’t even think about grease, there wasn’t any. We were instructed to wrap the shiso around the uni and eat it like a package. I was in uni heaven.



 Osteria Mozza (Los Angeles) – Fresh Ricotta and Egg Ravioli with browned butter – delicious


Manresa (Los Gatos) – Monterey Bay Abalone with garden basils and courgettes, slow egg – every time Chef Kinch pairs a dish with this miraculous slow cooked egg, I am in heaven.



Manresa – Aji and seaweed ice, lemony herbs – I love aji, but the combination with the ice was masterful – all I needed was a seashell to hold to my ear and listen to the ocean.




Manresa – Pumpkin veloute “petit rouge’, ripe figs. First the bowl was served with the figs and the fig leaf ice cream. The roasted petit rouge pumpkin veloute was poured on top. I wasn’t aware there was a summer pumpkin and there is just no way to describe how delicious this was.


 Manresa- Wood pigeon roasted in salt, morels, braised chard and morellos cherries with the pits  – absolutely perfect


Manresa- Marinated shellfish and golden raspberries, fragrant green curry oil and just for me Iranian caviar – Again, what is striking to me about Chef Kinch’s cuisine is the juxtaposition of ingredients – shellfish (didn’t have time to write everything down), raspberries and green curry – we were on a world-wide tour in one meal.


French Laundry (Yountville) – Potato puree, Hobb’s bacon, lovage emulsion, golden corn kernels, Santa Barbara uni – OK, I will admit it; I am a sucker for uni, but to have 4 of my favorite ingredients in one dish – bacon, potato, corn and uni – just oh my.


French Laundry – Fresh water eel, Kirby cucumber, Perilla, sweet vinaigrette – The cucumber was thinly sliced and functioned as the wrapper for the eel (much like nori in an eel roll at a sushi bar).


French Laundry – Uni, brik filled with potato puree, sugar snap peas and black truffle coulis –  What characterized this dish was the textural contrast – the crispy brik, the smooth potato, the crunchy snap peas and the soft and melting uni. The black truffle coulis elevated the dish to a wonderful harmony of flavors.


French Laundry – Uni from Japan that was “packed” in natural sea water and then served with the natural sea water. This uni was from the south end of Japan and has a slightly less pronounced taste than those harvested in the north. It was served with crunchy ice lettuce and gold leaf.


French Laundry – Japanese Black Abalone  The roasted abalone was paired with sauteed moulard foie gras, haricot vert from the French laundry garden, baby corn, light as air gnocchi, corn foam and emulsion


French Laundry – Crispy Sandab with a FL “tartar sauce” – I was absolutely blown away by this sauce and in awe of the person who had to cut up the components – this was not 1/8” dice; it was closer to 1/18” dice. Sometimes, I truly hate the less is more approach – I could have eaten a dozen – not quite, but this was a terrific dish.


French Laundry – Oysters and Pearls with Island Creek Oysters from Mass and California White Sturgeon Caviar – enough has be said about this dish



Ubuntu (Napa) – a study of eggs – a feast of eggs each one handled perfectly



Naha (Chicago) “Coddled” Organic Farm Egg “Benedict”, Kurobuta Pork Belly and Housemade English Muffin with Smoked Homegrown Wisconsin “Red Thumb” Potatoes, Italian Frisee and Yellow Helios Radishes 



Le Bernardine (New York) – Thinly pounded smoked salmon carpaccio; toasted brioche brushed with creme fraiche and caviar



Le Bernardine (New York) Kindai Maguro – (First sustainably raised Japanese Blue Fin Tuna in the world) Seared Blue Fin; Parmesan Crisp and Sun-Dried Tomato; Nicoise puree, black olive oil, micro basil



Picholine (New York) Uni Panna Cotta



Corton (New York) Uni, Konbu Gelee, Cauliflower Cream – absolutely stupendous. The Konbu gelee with the uni was superb and a few drops of jalapeno oil added just enough heat to excite the palate



 Neptune Oyster (Boston) – Fried Clams with the bellies


 3660 On The Rise (Oahu) – Ahi Katsu – sushi grade tuna wrapped in nori and deep fried medium rare, with a wasabi ginger beurre blanc sauce, strands of cucumber and a rice ball coated with sesame seeds – absolutely perfect and the sauce was outstanding