It’s funny how things have a way of working themselves out, especially when you least expect it. Quite sometime ago I came across a well written blog that I found to be insightful and approachable. There were ruminations on haute cuisine from San Francisco and New York and well written reflections on working within the restaurant industry. The author was obviously a cook and a few months into the blog, I learned that he was working at a local Roy’s Restaurant. Other than that, the author(s) of the blog was mysterious, only going by the initials of CK and PH. Then a little less than a year after it was started, it had ended; the final post contained musings on the 2009 Michelin guides for New York and the San Francisco Bay Area.
All was forgotten until a few months ago when I happened to find this chef on Twitter. Luckily, he was open to starting a dialogue with me and that led to this special dinner. The date and time was quickly arranged and joining me at the table that evening were Lesa, Dale and Tamara. It was an amazing evening filled with great food and conversation.
Squash, marcona almond butter, celery; Ikura cured in bonito, “Robuchon” pomme purée, Korean watercress
The dishes served at dinner were prepared using a combination of classic French and modern cooking techniques infused with local ingredients and Asian flavors – a revitalization and reworking of Hawaii Regional Cuisine, if you will. Each plate balanced flavor and texture with artful presentation that was subdued yet visually appealing.
One of the dishes that best showcased this was the ikura cured in bonito with “Robuchon” pomme purée and Korean watercress. Luxuriously creamy with a silky mouthfeel, the buttery-flavored pomme purée was topped with a healthy sprinkling of ikura that had been cured with bonito and dashi, giving this dish a savory and slightly smoky aroma and flavor. Tiny “chips” made of the potato skin offered some crunch while the Korean watercress leaves added a pop of color and a mildly vegetal bite.
Black cod, kabocha, grapes, soy-lemon nage; “bacon and eggs”
Another highlight of the evening was “bacon and eggs”. When I saw those words written on the menu, my mind started to race trying to figure out how the dish would be served. When it arrived at the table, I think I let out a chuckle as it was a lot more literal than I had anticipated. The egg was cooked sous vide, allowing the white to be just barely set; a thin veil enveloping the unctuous yolk. A light dusting of chives over the egg helped cut through the inherent richness, while the slices of bacon provided the salt needed to round out the dish.
Moi “cuit et cru”, bok choy, orange, miso; Big Island hirame roasted on the bone, matsutake beurre noisette
Moi “cuit et cru”, or cooked and raw, with bok choy, orange and miso was the dish I was most intrigued by. How were both the cooked and raw states achieved using a single piece of fish? The delicately flavored and tender fleshed fish was cooked until the skin side was crisp while keeping the “fleshy” side closer to its raw state. It was served surrounded by a pool of lightly flavored miso broth and garnished with ribbons of finely julienned bok choy, orange supremes and a smattering of diced red pepper.
Tongue “cuit d’espice pastrami”, red wine ‘kraut’, “1000 island reduction”; Brandt Farm veal cheek, onions, persimmon, Tokyo turnip
Another standout was the veal cheek. This is one dish that isn’t usually seen on local restaurant menus and I was happy to see it prepared and presented so simply here. Veal cheeks are probably one of the most tender and succulent cuts of meat, if cooked long and slow, as this obviously was. Served with its own jus, the accompanying onions and turnips provided a hint of texture and flavor, while the persimmon purée helped to cut through the rich, deep flavors.
If you ever have the opportunity like this, you probably wouldn’t want to pass it up. I can only thank the chef for preparing such a stunning meal for us. This was one of the better meals that I had enjoyed all year and one that will be remembered for quite sometime.
226 Lewers Street