Michael Mina, San Francisco (July 2008)

For my first two-star Michelin meal, I opted for Michael Mina. 

The first amuse bouche to arrive was a sashimi trio. At twelve o’clock sits the albacore with mango and nuoc mam cham. On the left is fluke with grilled pineapple and jalapeno gelée. Finally, to the right is the kampachi topped with coconut gelée, and vindaloo curry. Each piece delivered a fiery kick.

Following the palate jolt, the kitchen sent out a second amuse bouche of citrus bread and foie gras topped with apricot gelée. The foie gras’ velvety texture melted in my mouth.

For my first course, I decided to go with the scallop trio. On the left is a scallop amalgamated with three purees: pea, carrot and onion. The middle scallop has fingerling potatoes, leeks, and black truffle. The bacon wrapped scallop with fava beans and pork jus proved most satiating. My only gripe was that the scallops were too small.

I chose duck for my main course. To the left is a piece of duck breast on top of a bed of apricot puree and farro as well as an apricot halve with a grilled foie gras cube. In the middle, underneath the duck breast lies shaved cherries and wild rice along with leg confit at the plate’s top. The last preparation included nectarine and peach compote, polenta, and turnips. Perfectly cooked, the oleaginous duck was tender with a slight coppery note.

Summer berries and cream three ways rounded out my selections. On the left lies blueberry cake with crème fraîche and lemon verbena. The middle vessel houses a raspberry cream with rooibos gelée and two sweet cookies. The final item is a robiolina cheesecake, fresh strawberries, and a tarragon meringue. The tarragon’s licorice notes worked well to offset the cheesecake’s richness. The sweet cream coupled with the tart fruit also worked well.

After finishing the cheesecake, I neared total satiation. Two bon bons–a dark chocolate one filled with hazelnut ice cream and one with white chocolate and green tea ice cream–rounded out the meal. Mina has earned his two Michelin stars, perfecting both service and gastronomy.


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