Thursday, March 17, 2011

Manresa - a hidden gem

Nestled in the "forests" of Los Gatos is a hidden gem. One can drive by without even a glance at this unpretentious and very approachable establishment. But of course, being the diligent food voyeur that I am, not only did I glance, I studied. After gawking at the menu for months, I've developed a systematic method of restaurants to go through before I move back to LA. And Manresa was next in line to FL. I recently had a chance meeting with a pastry chef and the question came up, "Does the bay area trump LA in terms of dining?"
She replied without hesitation, "Yes, SF does have more of a curve when it comes to dining" and she proceeded to list all her favorites with shining eyes. I'm starting to believe her.

Some of my favorites:

Naked beauty - a single oyster poached in its own succulent essence with yuzu jelly. 
Sexy beyond words.

                          A velvety Dungeness crab salad with mandarin oranges, chicken broth jelly and a hint of cumin. (I've somehow managed to make this beautiful dish look like an orange blob. Much apologies =/ )

                                Crispy mussel with Japanese cucumbers and sprinkling of fresh dill.

 Monterey Bay abalone

Confit of trout and a dollop of some amazing cream

 Confit of duck with a Japanese plum sauce

 Wagyu sirloin with a dashi broth..

 lift her skirts ..
and a perfectly poached egg.

What added more appeal to this meal was that each dish came as a total surprise. There is no menu, not even a list of ingredients to go by. You entrust your senses to Chef David Kinch to toy and fondle with. And fondle he does. The point of no return for me was the Wagyu Sirloin with Poached Egg - so tender, flavorful, the perfect piece of meat. Be prepared for a 14 course food porn bonanza that will leave you hot and sweaty.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Red Medicine

Minutes go by. Forty five minutes to be exact and still no sign of my dinner companion.

This was to be my last meal in LA and as a finale I opted for Red Medicine, the controversial modern Vietnamese canteen. Decor is simple, kept to a minimalist approach save a few wood accents here and there. There is no door sign or flashy neon light that helps patrons recognize any hint of this recent headliner. And the parking sucks or lack of parking, I should say.

So my dinner companion saunters in while I'm sipping an over-sweetened Krome Vodka with specks of basil floating around which I blindly mistake for nori. (Might have been more interesting if it was nori). He glances around, peruses through the menu and utters, "This place operates on really high margins."


A "sorry for the delay. Parking was shitty" would've been nice. But I digress...

Many swear by the Pork Chaud-Froid, a blend of chicken skin, lychee, clove, and pistachio. I couldn't make heads or tails of it. A bizarre taste that doesn't leave one wanting more - an awkward combination of plaids and stripes. Yes, awkward would be the best way to describe Jordan Kahn’s creations. Although some dishes work awkwardly well, if such is possible. Take, for example, the kobocha, burnt onion, Chinese sausage, chrysanthemum, crème fraiche.

 A seemingly United Nation of ingredients that should leave battle scars on the tongue but manage to produce symbiotic results. The aftertaste reminded me grandma's bubbling concoction of Chinese herbs, dried sea horses and other odd sorts. This and the "Banh Mi" stole the show.

"Banh Mi" little sandwiches of foi heaven

The dishes are a mouthful to enunciate and the flavors are anything but subtle; bordering on sweet and herbaceous. Red Medicine is definitely a breath of fresh air to the Los Angeles dining scene.
Quick Tip: parking structure on adjacent street

Red Medicine
8400 Wilshire Blvd.

Beverly Hills, CA 90211