Saturday, August 30, 2014

Next Restaurant - Chinese

Next has always been fond of playing with different ethnic theme, such as Kyoto. Now, they've moved to Chinese and I am curious on what they'll serve. Unbeknownst to me, my reservation landed on the last day of this series, hence, I get to wrap this series up.

"Hot & Sour" Soup - Pressed Okra, Cilantro, Peppercorn

To start off our meal, we were serve a pressed "soup" of Chinese okra with cilantro and peppercorn. To my surprise the soup is neither hot nor sour, it's actually more sweet and peppery. Regardless, it's actually a good soup as it's refreshing and tasty.

Bamboo Shoot & Lily Bulb - Crispy tofu chip with citrus, swet corn puree and sorrel, pickled bamboo and lily bulb, and burnt corn husk gelee

The bamboo shoot is fun to eat as it's a bit crunchy and the lily bulb is quite tasty. However, I didn't quite understand the rest of the dish.

"Dim Sum Trio"

After our tofu dish, it's a trio of "dim sum"!

Congee as a Hot Foam with Pork Floss

The first of the dim sum is a congee in foam form. This congee foam is quite delicious as it carries a nice taro flavor, with a little pork and apple to balance out the heaviness from the rice with textural difference and sweetness.

Scallop Dumpling with Watercress and White Fungus

One of my favorite of the night, a nice little dumpling with scallop at its center. This little dumpling carried the scallop's sweetness with an earthy tone from the watercress and fungus.

Pork Dumpling with Jujube and Cuttlefish

The pork dumpling is an interesting dish as the meat feels more like a meatball instead of the softer dumpling meat. 

Sturgeon with Leek in a Roasted Spine Broth

Another one of my favorite of the night, the sturgeon is beautifully cooked; tender, moist and light. It's complimented with a well seasoned broth, which has a bit of heat to go with it. 

Crab with Green Chili Paste and Fresh Coconut, Mushroom

Another one of my favorite of the night. This coconut salad  is mixed in with a chili paste that carry a nice lemongrass flavor with it. The mushroom and crab mixture provides a nice "meaty" texture to this dish. It definitely reminds me of a nice "tom yum" soup.

Skate Chops in the Style of Muslim Lamb

This skate wing is also another winner of the night. A nice tender fried skatewing coated and paired with a variety of spice, Szechuan spice included, which numbed my tongue. Although, it's spicy, it carries a nice flavor to it. 

Tiger Salad with Cold Skin Noodles and Seitan

A little salad to comes after the spicy wing, I enjoyed the noodles the most as its a little chewy to go with the fish sauce that comes with the salad.

Tingly Squab with Tarragon and Sumac with Sichuan peppercorn

A playful version of popcorn chicken. This little squad has a nice texture and is juicy at the same time. The Sichuan peppercorn definitely adds in a nice heat to this dish. It's probably one of the best Asian style popcorn chicken I've ever had.

Lettuce with Spicy Shrimp Ju

An interesting pallet cleanser before our next course. Tasted like light mayo.

Shrimp in a Salted Duck Yolk "Sand" - Fried Head and Sashimi body

Another one of my favorite of the night, the shrimp head and tail are fried while the body is sahimi. The sashimi portion is definitely tasty; light and sweet. The duck yolk is flavorful and is a nice compliment with the sashimi. My favorite part is the crunchy head and tail. It's nicely seasoned and it lets you taste the shrimp's sweetness from another angle.

Beef & Broccoli in Liquid and Solid State (Jerky & broth)

A playful version of beef & broccoli. The soup is a nice beef stock that's really beefy, while the Jerky is really light and tasty. My favorite part is the little fried broccoli, it's light, crunchy and flavorful. I can eat a whole bag of these easily.

Duck in Layers

Our main Duck course has multiple components.

Steamed bun stuffed with duck rillettes, fermented beans and prune

A nice little steamed bun with duck rillette in it. The bun is light and fluffy to go with tasty duck meat.

Poached duck egg on a bed of walnuts, charred scallion, braised red cabbate and chives

A interesting pairing to the main duck course. It's a nice vegetable dish with walnut in it.

Smoked duck breast

My absolutely favorite of the night, this smoked duck breast was juicy, flavorful and delicious. It was light, and I had no problem eating all of these.

Red plum jam with Fresno chilies

A sweet little jam to go with the duck.

Pickled Green

A nice little pickled green to help cut into the duck's fatness.

1) Passion fruit Vinaigrette (iced)
2) "Pulling Threads" with Sweetbreads, Taro Root, and Plantain

One of the most fun course of the night, we were instructed to dip the sweetbread, taro root and plantain into the ice cold passionfruit juice so the sugar coating can stick,which create a nice exterior with warm interior of sweetbread, taro root and plantain. 

Frozen Rice Soup with Legumes and Whipped Vinegar - Puffed Jasmine Rice, English Peas

An interesting dessert as the puff rice has a nice "peanut butter" flavor to it. I like the crunchiness that comes with the puff rice and peas though.

Dragon's Beard Candy with a Pressing of Honey - Cashew, Black Sesame, ice cream

Another "nutty" dessert, the dragon's beard candy is a stringy, nutty candy. You combine the cashew, honey, sesame to go along with this. Flavorful, sweet and nutty. It's a nice way to end the meal.

Giant Fortune Cookie

How can you step away from a chinese dinner without fortune cookie! We were gifted a giant fortune cookie as parting gift. It's a nice vanilla and honey cookie, which makes it that much more delicious.



I actually had a different expectation coming into the chinese menu since I don't know which style they would use. However, Next did an excellent job creating a modern version of a chinese meal. There's definitely alot of great dishes that I truly enjoy but there's also some that fell flat. Given the complexity of chinese food, I would say this meal has exceeded my expectation. I'm looking forward to coming back to the last menu of the year.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Trois Mec

Trois Mec, run by the infamous Ludo Lefebvre, is probably one of the hottest restaurant in Los Angeles / US. It has garnered multiple awards, named as one of the best tasting under $100 and was one of the hottest restaurant in the world. I've wanted to try it for awhile but my schedule just wouldn't work (not to mention that I don't live in LA any more). So I'm pretty excited when I finally made the time and got a reservation here.

Amuse - Buckwheat Popcorn

To start off the night, we were offered some buckwheat popcorn. I like their little crunch and it's a good way to start.

Amuse - Herb Salad Tart with Pistachio and Gravy

Our second amuse is a little salad tart. It's a refreshing little bite, with a well dressed salad to go along with a crunchy skin. 

Amuse - Crispy Tapioca & Parmesan

This is one surprising little cube. The skin of the tapioca is nice and crunchy, while the inside ooze of cheese.

Amuse - "Garlic Bread"

This home made garlic bread is nearly heavenly and was one of my favorite bite of the night. The toast is roasted perfectly, with savory butter and a little herb on top. I can eat a ton of these

Amuse - Mustard Cream Brulee

This is an interesting little bite as the cream brulee is entirely flavored with mustard. Creamy and savory, the custard is nicely cooked. As always, my favorite part of a cream brulee is always the sugar and it was a job well done.

Avocado, Citrus, Crab Ceviche, Buckwheat Popcorn

Our first course is a California style dish. The crab is refreshing and sweet while the avocado add a bit of creaminess to the dish. I like the little extra buckwheat popcorn for the crunch as well.   

Tomato Pulp, Charred Eggplant, Jamon Iberico De Bellota, Smoked Tomato

An interesting take on eating the Ham. I wasn't particularly interested in the tomato as it was a bit blend for me, but it does balance out the ham and charred eggplant, which were quite excellent by itself.

Radish, Burnt Bread, Fromage Blanc, Furikake

I am not a huge radish person but this dish is such an interesting way of eating it. The burnt brioche sauce and the fromage blanc offers a nice earthy and cheesy flavor, which go really well with the radish. 

Confit Squid, White Asparagus, Caper Puree, Mascarpone

The squid is perfectly cooked. It was juicy, flavorful and tasty. Along with the mascarpone and white asparagus, this is definitely one of the better squid preparation I've eaten.

Veal Belly, Crispy Artichoke, Parmesan

This is actually my first time eating a veal belly, so I was pretty excited. The belly itself is juicy and not as fatty compared to a pork belly but offer the same texture. The artichoke offers a nice little crunch to the dish. 

Strawberry Cake, Meringue, Chantilly

Our final course is a nice little strawberry cake. It was light, and mildly sweet. I like the Chantilly as it adds that extra spike to the dish


Overall, I liked my meal here. Alot of original flavors and it wasn't a boring meal. Some dishes definitely stand out more than others (the crab, squid and dessert). Maybe it's just me, I feel that there's a lot of restrain in Ludo's menu. Nevertheless, since Ludo has finally settled down at a restaurant, I'm sure he can go as wild as he wanted if the wind blows the right way.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Grace (2)

It's been awhile since I've visited  Grace. I was there shortly after it was opened. Since then, Grace has been named in multiple awards, including getting two Michelin stars. Hence, a revisit has to take place.

Amuse - Baby Banana, Green Apple Watermelon Radish with Jamon De Verde

We start off the night with a little amuse, the banana is coated with sugar, reminds me of a cream brulee, mildly sweet and appetizing. The Ham is a delicious buttery delicate. I couldn't taste the watermelon/green apple, but the ham itself is great so I didn't mind.

Amuse - Quinoa Chip, Dehydrated Date

The Quinoa chip is delicious with a little cheese flavor. The dehydrated date is like a candy, mildly sweet. All in all, the amuse are a great start to our night.

Atlantic Cod - Osetra Caviar, Lychee, Chive, Mushroom Vinaigrette, Yuzu 

For our first course, we're instructed to open up the lid and lick it. There's a little yuzu puree on the lid to lighten our pallet. The fish is nicely cooked and it's smooth, buttery and sweet. The caviar adds a little brininess to the dish. What's more is the broth that goes with this dish, it's earthly, flavorful and a little smokey. 

Alaskan King Crab - Kalamansi, Cucumber, Lemon Mint, Golden Roe, Thai Chili

For our second course, we are instructed to crack the coated sugar, which holds the roe and Thai chili, and eat it along with the king crab and cucumber juice beneath. The resulting mixture is a combination of alot of flavor. The crab is perfectly cooked and its sweetness is magnified by the refreshing cucumber juice. The combination of roes, chili and cucumber juice make this a nice, yet, refreshing bite.

6-Herb butter and Rosemary Bread

Our first round of bread is a rosemary bread and we were offered a herb butter. These two goes really well with together as they are both quite "herby".

Scallop - Tamarind, smoke, Flavors of Licorice, Coconut cream, "Scallop Chip"

The scallop is superbly cooked as it's sweet, light and flavorful. It goes well with the tamarind, which tastes like the licorice flavor (think black jelly beans). The licorice flavor is quite strong and not very attractive by itself. However, it goes well with the creamy coconut. The coconut is sweet, milky, creamy and carries a nice dose of coconut flavor. There's also a scallop chip, which is actually the skin of the scallop and it's quite tasty.

Fennel Seed French Rolls

Lamb - Artichoke, Smoked Paprika, Frisee, White Anchovy 

The lamb is juicy, flavorful and carries a bit of the gaminess from the lamb. The anchovy is a nice little addition it adds a little crunch and carries a bit of brininess. The artichoke is fun to eat as it's crunchy but not necessary for this dish. My only complain to this dish is that there's too much going on and my brain is getting confused by all the different element. 

Another bread we were offered

Sweetbreads - Ten Grains, Caperberry, Sage, Veal sauce

The sweet bread is smooth, flavorful and tender. I like the veal sauce here as it's a little hearty and goes really well with the grains. The fun part is all the crunchiness that comes with the grain combined with the mushiness of the sweetbreads turns into a hearty, flavorful, fun bite.

Miyazaki Beef - Romaine, Peanut, Vietnamese Herbs, Rice Puff, Tom Yum soup

There's two ways of eating the wagyu beef, pan seared and sashimi style. The wagyu sashimi is flavorful and buttery, which goes really well with the crunchy rice crispy. The pan seared wagyu beef is also flavorful and buttery, in more of a cooked beef way. The Tom Yum soup is actually all flavor and no heat, which I like as it can be very spicy. It's got a nice lemon grass kick to the soup, which provide a nice round up for this dish.  

Whole Wheat Waffle with Wagyu Beef Fat butter

Passionfruit - Pomelo, Prune, Lavender cake, Grapefruit, Cocoa Butter

Our first dessert course & pallet cleanser comes with alot of fruit. We were instructed to crack the sphere in the center to let the juice runs through the dish. The juice is actually a prune juice, which is quite citrusy and strong, but goes really well with the grapefruit. My favorite part is the combination of the juice, grapefruit and a bit of the cocoa butter. It's sweet, refreshing and light. 

Rhubarb - Red wine, Cream Cheese, Lemon Verbena, Lime Ice

Our second dessert course is a play of a deconstructed cheese cake. The lime ice is a bit refreshing, while the cream cheese ice cream and the lemon cake offers a nice textural bite. When everything is eaten together, it really reminds me of a nice cheese cake though it's a much lighter and "cleaner" version than the original.

Chocolate - Huckleberry, Whisky, Bergamot, Chocolate Cake, Sunflower Seeds

The Chocolate shell actually holds all the bourbon cream, which is smooth but quite strong. It reminds me of  whisky infused chocolate. The chocolate cake is light and dense, which goes well with the bourbon cream. I do like the chocolate as it's not too sweet.


A little sweets to end our dinner.

My trip this time to Grace is definitely interesting. Chef Curtis Duffy's dishes definitely has progressed. Dishes are more creative and, at times, aggressive. I do like alot of the flavor combination here, such as the Cod, King Crab, Sweetbread and the Beef. They're quite original and fun to eat. However, I have to say, at times, my pallet is being too worked up because there's too many component in each dish. It's fun to have so many different flavor, but at times, it overwhelms me. I would've preferred less components and just really focus on specific flavor. All in all, I enjoyed my visit and will look forward in coming back in the future.