Red Medicine, Beverly Hills (August 2012)

Sixteen months passed since my last meal at Red Medicine, and it was really impressive to see just how much the restaurant has improved. Gone are the insouciant servers, replaced by friendly and professional servers who ably present and finish dishes tableside. As for Jordan Kahn’s food, from the first time I visited Red Medicine in March 2011, it was always my belief that he needed a bigger stage. Now that isn’t to say the every composition is flawless. A frozen uni powder’s nitidity verges on the palate-immobilizing and plantains paired with young turnips have a chalky, charcoal texture. Aside from those minor quibbles, the food remains as spellbinding as ever and would have no problem finding a home on any three-star Michelin restaurant’s menu.

Food: world-class
Highlights: sweet corn, chicken dumplings, black carrots and birch ice
Service: excellent
Pr(return): high

Complementary snap peas (raw and iced), soy milk custard, mint and coconut water

Sweet corn, sweet corn custard, frozen uni powder, rambutan, lemongrass, chervil, young ginger and celtuce

Chicken dumplings (served with lettuce cups),  caramelized sugar, pork fat, lemongrass and confitures

Heirloom black carrots, guava, purple kale, dulse, young walnut and tamarind

Young turnips, roasted plantain, plantain chips, brown butter, banana vinegar and fermented black bean

Charred eggplant, sprouted mung beans, soybean, coriander, black radish and morning glory

Birch ice, almond praline, red currant, orange blossom and jasmine

Green strawberries, frozen cream, sorrel, elderflower and wild chervil

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Pizzeria Mozza, Los Angeles, CA (August 2012)

If you can look past Pizzeria Mozza’s turn-and-burn pace and the epsilon-size space between tables, you’ll be treated to great pizza and some truly honest desserts.

Food:  very good
Highlights: bianca pizza, budino and coconut sorbet pie
Service: very good
Pr(return): high

Calamari al forno with tomatoes, oregano and fagioli

White anchovy, tomato and Fresno chili

Bianca with fontina, Sottocenere, mozzarella and sage

Bacon, salami, fennel sausage, guanciale and tomato

  

 Coconut sorbet pie with salted almonds and hot fudge

Butterscotch budino, Maldon salt and rosemary-pine nut cookies 

Pistachio, chocolate and triple berry gelato

The Spice Table, Los Angeles (August 2012)

It can be a bit frustrating when it falls to the diner to keep the service team from undermining one’s meal. This, unfortunately, was the case at The Spice Table. Upon placing our order, my brother asked that our table not be flooded with dishes–a request to which our server insisted he would hew, never allowing more than three dishes on the table at one time–the first flight of plates from the kitchen included four, invariably leading to some items being eaten at a less-than-ideal temperature. And despite my brother’s request to have his beers delivered along with the food, two out of three arrived midway through our completion of a set of dishes. Whether those lapses were due to ineptitude or aloofness–given that the outcomes they yield are observationally equivalent, it’s hard to know which was at play–it ultimately reflects poorly on the restaurant.

Food: good
Highlights: curry fried chicken wings, fried cauliflower, and spiced cognac soft serve
Service: poor
Pr(return): low

Curry fried chicken wings

Lamb belly satay with cumin, galangal and turmeric

Fried cauliflower with fish sauce

Spareribs with caramel sauce and fried shallots

Grilled pig’s tail with lettuce, herbs and fish sauce

Grilled bone marrow with prawn sambal

Cereal head-on prawns

Kon loh mee: egg noodles, choy sum, ground pork and pork belly char siu

Spiced cognac softserve

Bouchon, Beverly Hills (August 2012)

After Per Se’s colossal bed shitting during an extended tasting menu in June (see here for the details) and the diarrheically offensive attempt at a remedy, I really wasn’t expecting to patronize a Thomas Keller restaurant so soon. And it likely was too soon, for each minor service lapse at Bouchon–our water glasses remaining unfilled for long stretches and the dilatory response to our bread and butter request–only served to remind me of the phantasmagorical comedy of errors I experienced at Per Se. So I think this time it will be much longer than two months before I consider returning to a Thomas Keller restaurant.  

Food: good
Service: okay
Pr(return): low

Croque Madame with french fries

Trout amandine

Lukshon, Culver City (August 2012)

Food: good
Highlights: spicy chicken pops, Kurobuta pork ribs and pork belly lettuce cups
Service: good
Pr(return): likely (if only it weren’t so bloody far from the valley)

Spicy chicken pops with garlic, kecap manis and Sichuan salt

Green papaya salad, cherry tomatoes, long beans, crispy shallots, nam pla and lime

Duck confit spring rolls, cabbage, woodear mushroom and herbs 

Kurobuta pork ribs with spicy chicory coffee BBQ sauce

Pork belly lettuce cups, cabbage, crispy pig ear, Thai chili, lime, mint and rice powder

X.O. sauce, jasmine rice, long beans and egg

Dandan noodles: Kurobuta pork, sesame, preserved mustard greens, Sichuan peppercorns and peanuts

Complementary caramelized pineapple ice cream sandwiches

 Iced coffee with condensed milk

Jean-Georges, New York (August 2012)

Food: excellent
Highlights: ruby shrimp with uni and the strawberry-themed dessert
Service: very good
Pr(return): high

Passion fruit-lime soda

(From left to right) Santa Barbara uni with jalapeno, wasabi sorbet with berries and a jalapeno popper with goat cheese

Diver scallop ceviche, olive oil, lime, chili and anise hyssop

Maine ruby shrimp, uni, fermented green chili and nasturtium

Ciabatta

Red wine-strawberry sorbet, chantilly cream, strawberry confit and vanilla sponge cake with toasted meringue

Plum tart with brown sugar and coconut foam and peaches with blueberries and corn ice cream

Cassis macarons and apricot pate de fui

Caramels and dark chocolates

Vanilla marshmallows