🚨🍣New Sushi Spot Alert 🍣🚨

Found this place that just opened through a wonderful food friend… and oh my god it was seriously one of the best meals I’ve had in Japan.

From the attention he pays to every single detail in his shop (design, hand towels, and even specialty toilet paper), to ceramics, his choice of staff all reflects in his stunning food.

His shari (sushi rice) was literally perfection. His otsumami (small plates) surpasses any of the places I’ve eaten before.

Above are only a few of the photos and the notes, not as extensive as I’d like (too preoccupied enjoying my meal).

6 hour steamed abalone in its juices
Hokkaido shishamo caught only in October served two ways (nigiri and gunkan)
Ankimo with mizunomi (ankimo steamed with the mizunomi omg the texture!!!)
Of course nodoguro

…and the sushi was 100%. Not a fan of cured neta that is pungent, or shari that is too sour (I can name a handful of super famous spots that are aggressively flavored)

On and on I can keep going but honestly, I only remember being blown away. Asking trillions of questions like I always do. And not retaining most of the information… hashtag OLD.

So, I will leave this post with my friend Ash’s succinct – but vulgar – description (and this guy knows. his. shit.)

Threes

They say deaths come in threes and boy has the culinary world in 2018 suffered the effects of that urban legend. First Anthony Bourdain. Then Jonathan Gold. And now, Joël Robuchon.

My first experience at a Robuchon establishment was in Tokyo, where he owns this strange mansion-esque building that houses three Robuchon restaurants and one bar. I’ve eaten at all three, even had drinks at the bar.

Living in Asia, it’s easy to travel around the region and in every cosmopolitan city of this part of the world, there is at least one L’Atelier that is starred by Michelin. And that is the extent I know about him: A decorated chef with a lot of stars around the globe.

Reading tributes, I now have a better understanding of the man and the impact he had on global fine dining. Pete Wells’ NYTimes piece basically sums it up perfectly.

I don’t really have much to contribute but I did come across a mashed potato recipe of his I’ve cooked several times. They are French style mashed potatoes, creamier and richer than the mashed potatoes Americans are used to, perfect for when you want to control mashed potato intake because honestly I can eat an entire pot of American style mashed potatoes. Oops!

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Ferran Adrìa and Daniel Boulud

I get it. I do. We all cut corners.

Ina Garten uses store bought marinara (Rao’s) as does Giada de Larentiis. Rick Bayless uses Tamazula hot sauce. Andrew Zimmern (4x James Beard winner) uses Sam’s BBQ Sauce and Trader Joe’s brand harissa (wtf), on and on, if you do Google searches, there are loads of information of ready made products chef use.

Almost all of the store-bought products top chefs rely on make sense. Why bother wasting time and energy making something if store bought ones taste better? Personally, I veer from house-made / homemade ketchup and mayo — Heinz still makes the best ketchup, Hellman’s and Kewpie for mayo.

However, there are two unforgivable offenses I just can not get over.

  1. (points below)

and 2. (points below)

In no means am I a purist but these are three star Michelin chefs!!!!!! Preserved lemons are just salt and water. Variations may have added spices and lemon juice but come on! What is so difficult about tossing some spices or squeezing juice? Not to mention, he is a master chef and restauranteur who owns chains and employs thousands of people. He can easily have minions make preserved lemons. Buying pre-made is just lazy.

Ferran Adrìa is the genius behind elBulli, the now defunct mothership that bred countless of world-class chefs dazzling Europe. And he uses dashi powder? WTF. Dashi powder is the equivalent to bouillon cubes of Japanese cooking: FLAVORLESS SALT BOMBS.

I am strangely disappointed, extremely offended, and most of all sad, since I no longer trust these chefs.. If Chef Daniel Boulud can’t even prepare his own preserved lemons, what else does he cut corners on? Makes me never, ever, want to step foot into Daniel or any Boulud restaurant ever again.

Oh, well.

The French Laundry #throwback

One of the greatest things about Twitter is how bits of information are shared, which is probably due to how anyone can post whatever they feel like quickly. The 280 character limit and knowing the information will most likely pass through a vortex of information and disappear into the Internet blackhole relieves pressures of thinking too much … which is beneficial for the masses as we can see deeper into our favorite people/brands/businesses that are normally out of reach. (Usually — as I am obviously taking politics out of the equation.)

The other day a friend alerted me to The French Laundry’s Tweet, sharing their opening night menu in 1979 (!!!)

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Fast forward to 1994, Thomas Keller bought the building and in 2018, TK is arguably still one of the top 5 chefs in North America, and TFL is one of the greatest restaurants in America.

The original handwritten menu on opening night, though, beautifully sums up the state of food in America in the 70’s and up until the late-00’s (perhaps early 2010) when the American public finally started caring about food.

Take a look:

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“Fresh asparagus” and “rice” are on the menu — wow.

America, you have come a long way! And thank you, Chef Keller, for being on the forefront of the food revolution in the U.S. Much love and respect.

été – an invite only French spot in Tokyo

Some of you may recognize this cake making its rounds all over Instagram. The baker, young Nacchan, made a huge splash in the Tokyo dining scene last year. Hailing from the Michelin starred “Florilege”, she was the sous then ventured on her own at the tender age of 27 to open “été”, an invite only private dining spot in Tokyo.

Anyway, I had the privilege to dine there and her food was in fact, delicious! Some of the photos may not do her food justice (too preoccupied eating) but if you get a chance to go, definitely worth it!

*phone number and address are withheld

Another ‘Only in Japan’: Insane Wine List

So I get a text to meet at this restaurant and when I looked it up I could barely find information on it. I decide to put myself in his hands because this guy knows food and wine, more wine than food but he knows enough about food to be a good dining partner.

I walk into the restaurant and a bit taken aback, it makes zero sense. If a thrift store for theater companies threw up the furniture and props into the room, this place would be it. The interior is cluttered with tchotchkes of gnomes and Japanese figurines, empty bottles of DRC (Domaine de la Romanée-Conti) and magnums of rare Dom Pérignon. The table has a bell to ring for service.

I am confused.

Well. I open the wine menu and I finally got it. Here is only part of it (not even a 1/3).

I’m no wine expert but even I was able to pin-point some rare names and vintages. But, I think the best part of the menu, was ‘other country’ sections and some of the best wine producers from countries other than France were added towards the end of the menu like an after-thought. LOL.

This weekend was full of firsts; more to come on my Saturday.
Ahhhh Japan, you are the best!

By the way, this is what we had:

Comtes de champagne and Corton-Charlemagne 2005

Tacubo 


It’s no longer a secret the Japanese make unbelievable Napoli pizza (David Chang just filmed a segment for Mind of a Chef in Tokyo) but don’t write off the Italian food cooked with Japanese ingredients. Take this stunning primi piatti from Tacubo in Daikanyama. Open for less than a year, they have already attained a Michelin star and quickly rated a top 5 Italian in Tokyo. The antipasti and pastas are beautiful but the real stars are the meats cooked to perfection in the maki yaki (薪焼き) firewood grill. The lamb is 💯🐑🐑🐑

Bookings are still not impossible but pretty soon, they will become another restaurant with hard-to-acquire reservations so if you are planning a trip here, I suggest visiting sooner than later.

Tacubo
Drop this into Google Maps↓
東京都 渋谷区 恵比寿西 2-13-16 ラングス代官山
03-6455-3822

*Reservations are a must

Gelinaz Shuffle

I am not ashamed to admit I spent most of my early afternoon glued to Instagram, tracking #gelinazshuffle The Grand Gelinaz is a collective of incredible chefs from all over the planet, educating, exploring and collaborating with one another. On July 9th, 37 chefs swapped restaurants and cooked in unfamiliar kitchens, using (of course) the region’s ingredients. Which chef goes where was kept under wraps and revealed today.

I found a spreadsheet someone uploaded onto Instagram:

via here

This person is obviously in the San Francisco Bay Area and eating at Atelier Crenn but holy moly, check out the lineup: Chefs… David Kinch, Daniel Patterson, Magnus Nilsson, René Redzepi, Sean Brock, Yoshiro Narisawa, Ben Shewry, Alain Ducasse, … and not visible on the spreadsheet: Andoni Luis Adruiz of Mugaritz, Alex Atala of D.O.M. and Massimo Bottura of Osteria Francescana amongst others. Wow!

As I was tracking the hashtag, I suddenly saw all the photos from NY:

Fried oyster with tapioca and salmon roe from Chef Alex Atala at Blanca via here

Hokkaido uni cream and smoked clams from Chef Massimo Bottura cooking at Momofuku Ko. Photo courtesy of here.

Thanks to Instagram I was able to see so many dishes from all over the planet. My absolute favorite, though, was from Chef Jock Zonfrillo, who I had never heard of until seeing his food tonight. He was cooking out of Manresa in Los Gatos. (Manresa and Chef David Kinch’s food is great. I was so fortunate to dine at Manresa a few times since it was only about 20 minutes south from where I was raised).

Chef Zonfrillo’s style is definitely one I would make a dedicated trip to Adelaide, Australia for. Wherever in Australia Adelaide even is. I hope they have koalas. And kangaroos…?  Platypuses? Or is it platypusii? Hmmm note to self: google later. 

I digress. Back to the food. Focus Mona. Take a look at his menu:

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How to Tell if Your Sommelier Knows Wine

I’m honest when I dine out. It took me some time to get here. I was raised in the era when the food revolution was just starting in America and growing up, I have vivid memories of my mother constantly reminding me that most American restaurant staff cannot be trusted. So much so, my mother would research before going to a restaurant. Those days, the internet was non-existent (late 80’s, early 90’s) and she made me call restaurants to have them fax menus and wine lists before we made reservations. Looking back I wonder what those fine dining establishments thought of a child with an obvious kid voice, calling to request menus.

In my mid 20’s, I was dining out more and more without her and by this time, the internet was the norm. Out of habit, I would look up menus, specials and wine lists online. One day I got tired of all the effort and made the leap of faith to start trusting restaurant staff.  It changed my life. Ordering was now fun instead of stressing out if my choices and recommendations were good enough. Thanks mom. Perhaps my positive experiences are because I ask one or two preliminary questions to show I’m not a novice diner but most restaurants — especially fine dining establishments — employ staff that pick up on unspoken cues (manners, etiquette, body language, etc.).

Wine, though, is a different story. There are hundreds and thousands of wine flavor profiles and wine is such a personal choice. For modern diners, wine has become such an integral part of meals, picking and choosing while dining with important people causes anxiety. Frankly, I’m not that knowledgable and my wine knowledge was built through what my mother taught me, years of dining out and dating men from various parts of the world. It’s true what they say by the way, the French really know their wines. 

Repeating mistakes, I’ve picked up key words to communicate to the sommelier my preferences. “I love heavier reds and prefer French and Italian over California reds. Malbec, Côtes du Rhône, Syrahs, Barolo, Barbaresco are my safe reds. Côte-Rôtie, Léoville-Las Cases and Tignanello are some of my favorites.” And even then, I’ve had more misses than hits when it comes to wine.

The simple solution here, is for me to learn wine but I can not be bothered — there is still so much more I want to learn about food. So imagine my delight when I stumbled onto this piece: “10 Ways to Tell if Your Sommelier Really Knows Wine”

Here are some several of my favorite points:

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