Sunday, July 11, 2010

Saam - an introductory course to molecular gastronomy


Bazaar, as conspicuous as the last Pinkberry craze.  But Saam? Maybe less so. Saam's a private dining room behind an obscure door sandwiched between the bathroom and the wetbar. You'll more likely pass by the room thinking it's the janitor's closet, a stylish janitor's closet. The menu of Saam is everything from Bazaar and more. José Andrés, celebrity chef,  is nothing short of a prodigy. His use of molecular gastronomy brings out the the zany and whimsical side of food that has now become the trend of "seeing is not believing". You think you're about to nibble on the olive of a dirty martini, but as your incisors slice through, you realize it's actually olive juice encased in its own shell. Intriguing, isn't it?

There's a reason why I think Spanish food is the new black. Remember the days when escargots and foi gras were THE haute-cuisine. Well, those days are long gone. The Spaniards have taken tapas to a whole new realm. Some examples: Take this Tuna Handroll, no longer a nori wrap but a crispy cone that ensures no soggy seaweed.
                                 Lotus Root Chip - star anise                Tuna Handroll

A tongue in cheek version of a lox and bagel.
Bagel and Lox Steam Bun

This black olive spherication dish is accredited to Ferran Adria, the Big Kahuna of molecular gastronomy, the one who started it all. Apparently, Ferran invented the whole spherication concept but didn't patent it. So now there's a whole slew of chefs jumping on the Mo-Ga bandwagon.

Black Olives - Ferran Adria

                                    Buffalo Wing -blue cheese               Japanese Baby Peach-burrata cheese

A creamy broth of lobster head; take a sip, then a bite from the crispy bread salad. If lobster bisque is up your alley, then this broth will send you into gustatory rapture.               
                                                                      Lobster broth - crispy bread

A common favorite of the night, Iberico ham, imported from Spain and fed with acorns, not me, but the black Iberian pig. This is my first experience with Iberico ham and yet it's more memorable than any virginal experience I've encountered. The animal's pristine diet of acorns gives it a sweet and earthy flavor unlike any cured ham. The meat obliterates into a velvety nothingness the moment it hits your mouth. Oh how I would love to brush my lips against your satin-y folds.

Iberico Ham - caviar

Another virginal experience for me, freshly shaved black truffles. Undoubtedly, an aromatic dish smelling of damp moss and plush forests. Just one vexing question: is truffle suppose to be absent of flavor? Tasting of waxy filaments? Since I'm not a maven of these earthly treasures, I've always assumed truffles to taste as poignant as its scent.   
                                             Risotto - Black Truffles & Japanese Rice

This hot and cold soup is obscenely good. Crunchy corn potage on the top and creamy foi soup on the bottom. If this doesn't spell "genius" for José Andrés, I don't know what does. Replace this with the morning expresso and you're in liver heaven!
Hot and Cold Foi Soup & Corn

Bazaar's named it "sexy tomato seeds". Presumably, if you find wet red things sexy..
 Although the combination of the sexy tomato, spherified cheese and crispy bits make it a formidable salad.

Not Your Everyday Caprese-sexy tomato seed and liquid mozzarella

This is a "moan" dish for me. Bazaar's version of an American classic; Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich. Only here, the beef is Wagyu. Be careful when it goes in, the thing squirts.
Philly Cheese Steak

Dragon's breath is more gimmicky than for gustatory pleasure. Basically, it's popcorn candy dropped into liquid nitrogen and when you put it into your mouth and exhale, you're transformed into a smoke tooting dragon. Why not call the dessert, Chasing the Dragon?
Dragon's Breath Popcorn

This would be my first formal session with molecular gastronomy. Admittingly, I've scoffed at the idea of tormenting food into unrecognizable forms and shapes. I believed that food loses its original flavor after it's been rendered through lab tests and extreme temperature changes. These archaic beliefs of mine were thrown out the door during our 5 hour long meal at Saam. 24 courses of non-stop mind blowing craftsmanship took me by surprise. I mean, I did expect everything to be impeccable but this took me to another level. Have I become a fan of this cult? Of the El Bulli worshiping clan? If so, God help me.

Bazaar at SLS Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles on Fooddigger


  1. Oooh! So pretty! LOVE ga-mo, as you call it ;-)

  2. I love the term, mo-ga.

    Never really had a chance to try it here though. There used to be the one mo-ga restaurant, but I guess it was too far ahead of its time and shuttered as quick as it opened.

  3. I can see Mo-Ga not working out in Asia so much. But I heard in HK, there's something similar going on. Mo-Ga is definitely not a weekly thing. I rather eat "real" food. But it's fun, none the less.

  4. 24 courses, but you only show us 14? We want to see the rest of the lot!

  5. Kevin, I don't carry a notepad *nudge wink*
    memory fails..

  6. If you gotta join a cult this isn't a bad choice.