Saturday, July 26, 2014

Kusakabe




if you're at all familiar with Sushi Ran in Sausalito then you must know their chef, Mitsunori Kusakabe. Sushi Ran is known to have some of the best sushi in the Bay Area and you are considered quite the lucky duck if you can snag a seat at the sushi bar for an omakase. but things have changed. for better or worse, who knows. maybe unbeknownst to the general population of eaters but definitely noted by the frequenters of the popular sushi restaurant, Kusakabe has left to open a restaurant with his own name. he serves one omakase kaiseki style menu ($95/ 8 courses) each night with the option to add nigiri, sashimi, simple maki and dessert a la carte to follow. the space is sleek and simple yet inviting once greeted by a host or server. while there are some tables near the front of the restaurant, it provides as a sort of waiting area until your seats at the sushi bar are ready. they don't want anybody to miss out on experiencing watching the chefs at work. 

from Sushi Ran Kusakabe brought with him Chef Ken Ngai, who we were happy to be entertained by. he created our simplistic sushi masterpieces for the evening while also making us feel welcome and playfully bantering with us or our neighbor guests. the sushi was incredible! beautifully simple, fresh and colorful. the hot dishes were also very good and adequately gave us breaks between raw fish dishes. if you truly appreciate good sushi, i absolutely recommend this place. it's only been open for about two months now and has not had very much press or advertising yet has received a lot of buzz. get your reservation sooner rather than later or you'll likely begin to see a month long wait list!




Mitsunori Kusakabe

Ken Ngai

chu toro

halibut

smoked bonito

tuna and scallop

truffle miso with eringi and shimeji mushrooms

unagi with rice cracker and avocado rice

crab with crispy agedashi tofu

mackerel

roe

alaskan king salmon

toro

A5 wagyu

tofu ice cream

matcha creme brulee

we were just trying to get a picture with them while they were making sushi but this is even better! Ken juuuust barely snuck on in there.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

passion fruit bars


you guys, these bars are killer! they are reminiscent in look, texture and concept to lemon bars so you'd think they are practically the same but passion fruit has a very distinct flavor and it. is. awesome! they are a little less tart than lemon bars but have a lot more character to them. also, i like that these aren't overly sweet. they're super easy to make and a hit at bbqs. unfortunately i think that i slightly undercooked mine, which wasn't so much a problem in mouth feel texture as it was annoyingly unpretty when i cut through them. even so, these are soooo good! make them!!...orrr you can stalk the next bbq i go to and sneak one for yourself.

*i used Goya brand passion fruit puree found in the frozen aisle at Safeway

Passion Fruit Bars  
(i got the recipe here)

ingredients:
for crust: 
- 2 sticks butter, melted and slightly cooled
- 1/2 c granulated sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 c flour

for filling:
- 8 large eggs
- 2 1/3 c granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 c passion fruit puree
- 1/2 c flour

directions:
1. preheat oven to 350 degrees F
2. line a 9x13 pan with foil so that the foil extends over the sides. spray with cooking spray
3. in a bowl, mix together the butter, sugar, vanilla and salt for the crust
4. once mixed add flour and mix until evenly incorporated
5. scrape into the foil lined pan and press into an even layer
6. bake crust for 25-30 minutes or until the top is golden brown
7. while the crust is baking, in a large bowl whisk together eggs, sugar and passion fruit puree until the consistency is even
8. sift the flour over the filling mixture and whisk together until smooth
9. pour filling mixture over the hot crust
10. reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F
11. bake for approx. 25-30 minutes or until the center barely jiggles when you tap the pan
12. remove pan from oven and allow to cool to room temp
13. refrigerate bars until you are ready to serve
14. when ready, pull the sides of the foil up so that all contents in the pan are removed
15. with a large, sharp knife cut into bars
16. sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving

Friday, June 27, 2014

Lazy Bear

Lazy Bear is the most awesome underground fine dining experience that i am aware of. Chef David was a lawyer who passionately taught himself to cook to maintain sanity through law school. he eventually decided that he was good enough to make it his full time gig and forget about all that schooling he suffered through. a Lazy Bear meal is officially about seven or eight courses but ends up actually being about twelve or thirteen courses. they lie to you when they mention "snacks" on their menu. they are share plates between your group but they are muuuuuch more than your typical idea of a snack. think soft shelled crab with ramp butter or an oyster in tomato jelly. they have a BYOB policy and provide you with the glasses, which is awesome because you can bring whatever you want and as much as you want. the location is hidden until you've confirmed your reservation and paid the deposit (equal to the cost of one meal, $110), but i think they've been serving in the same spot for a while. and just fyi, it's a quirky spot that is perfect for this sort of thing. also, at any point during dinner you can walk into the kitchen and see what they're preparing as well as talk to the chefs. this is definitely not typical. other fine dining establishments will allow you a short guided glance into their kitchen but it stops there. the combination of everything that Lazy Bear is about makes it such a unique experience. 

Lazy Bear began a few years ago but due to it's insane lottery system reservation process it's possible that you may never be opportunistic enough to get an invite. currently you submit your online application and mark the days within a two week span that work for you. after that it's out of your control. you patiently wait for a call or email but if you don't hear from them then your chances are shot. if you are lucky enough to get an invite, you better be available for whatever date they've got or you'll have to go through the process two weeks later. it's pretty much the same mind f*ck you experience when you've just started dating someone and are waiting for them to call you and make moves. the ball is completely in their court and you have no jurisdiction about where this is going. but maybe that'll change. it is in it's last couple of months operating as a pop-up and will soon have it's very own brick and mortar. maybe their reservation process will change to a more standard system. i've got my fingers crossed on that one. 

i hope you can one day experience Lazy Bear for it is truly an awesome experience!

smoked whipped egg, bacon with hot sauce
warm and savory. a great start to the meal.

my guy, Ted, who scored the reservation! thankssomuch!

Caroline. her boyfriend Ed was with us but i failed to get a picture of the two of them

doesn't sound like much but you just wait and see!



prep in the kitchen



oyster in tomato jelly
not a fan of oysters or jelly in general but i didn't mind this so much. it doesn't make sense but somehow the jelly made it less slimy

smoked salmon and dill mousse
there was a citrus note in this that rounded out the rich creaminess of the mousse. loved this.

soft shell crab with ramp butter
this was crazzzzzy good! the crab was fried in a seasoned batter so on it's own it had great flavor. the ramp butter enhanced it all and was awesomely delicious. you can't tell from the picture but it was a bright green color. an awesome dish.

cultured butter with butter curds
who knew you could make butter so delicious. i don't know what it was about this but it was so creamy and flavorful. i could've kept eating it all night long if i didn't know there was an actual seven course meal ahead of me.


mackerel escabeche. melon, peach, bay laurel
this tasted a lot like sardines. it was fairly fishy but masked slightly by the melon. the part with peach did the best job of masking the fishiness. this was my least favorite dish but still quite good overall.

rabbit confit. rainier cherry, pistachio, ramps and brioche
so much went into the production of this single plate! rabbit done a couple of ways, this was a sophisticated dish. salty, sweet, rich, bright. all good things. 

sea cucumber congee. cucumber, peas, celery.
i'm not a fan of sea cucumber because of it's sliminess but they did a good job ridding that texture from the dish. the peas were beautiful and just barely cooked.

squab. blueberries, porcinis, fir tips
squab and blueberries? AND granola? seriously? who would've ever thought this up?? this dish was so good and the squab was tender and flavorful. loved this!


fatty beef. padrons, pepper juice, basils, finger lime, rice.
ughhhh!!! so tender. and lovely. i wanted this 10x in size. absolutely perfectly cooked and ultra flavorful.


apricot brulee. humbolt fog, frangipane.
charred apricots, cheese and almonds. sounds great, tastes great.

berries. cookies, cream.
simple but somehow hit the spot. refreshing, creamy, packed with flavor and textures. this was awesome! 

treats
cutest little plate of bites!

strawberry jelly with balsamic vinegar, doughnut
i don't even like jellies but they made this really dense so it wasn't like a squishy jelly consistency. balsamic always pairs nicely with strawberries and that little basil bud was crazy fragrant and packed with flavor. this was my favorite of the "treats."

almond cake, smores, caramel bite??

100% worth it. i would've paid more without any hesitation. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

6th annual flag day at Quince


every year we use Flag Day as an excuse to eat a fancy pants dinner. originally we had reservations for Coi, however found ourselves lacking in excitement so we changed our minds last minute. luckily we were able to find reservations for another two Michelin starred restaurant within a weeks time. this year's dinner was at Quince, where i've dined before but was still very excited to experience again. we opted for the full tasting menu and it was awesome!

tomato
which tasted like a super glorified mozzarella stick

stuzzichini de benvenuto
meaning appetizers or small bites. 

buttermilk something or other with popcorn
simple in taste. i love popcorn so the inclusion in any dish is a win for me.

house smoked salmon on squash chip
not too smokey or salty. a nice bite.

cannot remember but it's some sort of crisp chip with pickled strawberry
i've been seeing this type of crisp around lately and i like it. reminds me of shrimp chips you see on this particular chinese dish with chicken but obviously this is not a shrimp chip. i digs it.

razor clam on a chip
LOVE razor clams and you rarely see it in the Bay Area. this was awesome!

melon gazpacho with watermelon wrapped in proscuitto
light. smooth. refreshing.

hawaiian bonito, cherry tomato, seaweed, lemon cucumber
my least favorite dish of the night, but still pretty good. nicely cured fish with tomatoes that had a super enhanced flavor. i can't tell if they did something to it or if they're just exceptionally ripe tomatoes.

bread service

white asparagus, morel mushroom, spring garlic, vin jaune
favorite dish of the night! holy cow who knew that a vegetarian dish could ever be theeee best dish? the asparagus was cooked nicely, the spring garlic puree was crazy flavorful, as was the morel sauce. and morels are my favorite mushroom, so that was a perfect component to the dish for me. my only qualm with the dish is that it looks so phalic. they could've cut the asparagus at a slant and it would've been even better.

"tortelli alla cecilia chiang" caviar, smoked sturgeon, shallots
non-fishy caviar with light filling. who would've ever thought to put fried shallots with caviar? they seem at opposite ends of the spectrum but worked so well together. i looooved this!
tagliolini e oro, cocoa, japanese surf clam, melon
i don't think the gold flakes were necessary for this dish but it was super tasty. i happily slurped this up.

suckling pig tortellini, parmigiano reggiano fonduta
you'd be amazed at how pungent (in a positive way) the suckling pig could be coming from pasta pieces the size of a nickel. this was also super creamy and verrrrrrry cheesy.

four story hill farms poussin, rainier cherry, sicilian pistachio, corn
i am not typically impressed with fowl dishes but this was pretty great. the poussin itself was super moist and seasoned well with a very crisp skn. the corn in the center reminded me of the corn you get as a side at Chili's but a more refined and more savory version. 

andante's minuet cheese, plum, buckwheat honey, chevril 
yum! love cheese. served with two types of bread.

apricot 
this dish was a palate cleanser and wasn't a part of the official menu but it was one of my favorite bites of the night. it was refreshing yet creamy. the meringue type thing tasted like champagne!

middleton farms berries, yogurt, maras des bois, valrhona opalys
a simple dish. under the cream was sort of a berry crumble with cooked berries and a crunchy top. twas delicious (i could probably eat it all day long) however i expect a little more from a restaurant of this caliber. that little tiny strawberry, on the other hand, was sort of amazing. it was the size of my pinky fingernail but packed so much punch it was sort of astonishing, really. 

mignardise