Ame, San Francisco (January 2009)


As good as last night’s dinner was, and as much as I wanted Fleur’s flavors etched on my palate, I knew I would have to eat eventually, so why not follow up with another Michelin-starred restaurant? I should be upfront about my knowledge dearth when it comes to Japanese ingredients. Sake and shiso, for instance, are novel flavors. We were seated promptly, and in knee-jerk fashion, I decided on the tasting menu.

The mozzarella’s Pillsbury paunch texture worked as an adhesive, absorbing caviar, greens, and beets. Centralizing the caviar would have improved this course, for the utensils–a normal size fork and knife–were ill-equipped to deal with the miniscule roe. 

First course: Burrata mozzarella, heirloom beet salad, American sturgeon caviar
Hot soup with sweet ingredients is clever. My favorite? Not quite. 
Second course: Apple and kohirabi soup with Maine lobster
The cod seems to levitate in the bowl while maintaining a slight crust (it rests on a dumpling). Tangy and salty elements can be tasted in every bite. I did my best to sop up the broth with the bread provided; had I not been dining with a mate, I surely would have slurped up the remaining bits. It is no wonder why this is the restaurant’s signature dish. 
Third course: Sake marinated black cod in a shiso broth
The imbricating medallions mask the pork’s medium doneness–a bit overdone for my taste. A little fat was left on the loin, which prevented it from drying out.
Fourth course: Kurobu pork loin, turnips, chrysanthemum, cherry blossom jus
Flaky crust, a tart filling, and chocolate-free, this is my kind of dessert. 
Fifth course: Huckleberry pie, huckleberry ice cream, candied lemon

As our meal came to an end, the din intensified, particularly at the table behind us; the large party essentially used the restaurant as a day care center. Despite this minor inconvenience, the meal was stellar. Ame’s tasting menu is well-crafted and reasonably priced.

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