Sunday, June 15, 2014

Bouley - 1 Michelin Star

This marked my third visit to Bouley and I always returned home as a satisfied customer.  Priced at $55, Bouley offer a very good deal for their five-courses one Michelin Star lunch prefix menu. Most choices are approximately similar to previous visits, with small variations based on season and ingredient selections. For example in this visit, rhubarb is used in several of the dishes. Sadly, their portions are smaller than what they used to be. However, they packed enough punches and flavor for everyone.

Apologize if I labeled the wrong menu items.

Amuse Bouche with Rhubarb

One of the best amuse bouche I had. If I am not mistaken, it was goat cheese with truffle. Tasty and creamy.

Bread Basket

New England Big Eye Tuna
Organic Early Greens, Osetra Caviar, Pickled Cucumber

Blini of Scottish Smoked Salmon
Salmon Trout Roe, White Truffle Honey
- Interesting texture and felt like a light marshmallow. Chef recommends eating with finger. 

Porcini Flan
Alaska Live Dungeness Crab, Black Truffle Dashi
- Rich and creamy. Very indulging soup. Portion is a lot smaller than what it used to though.

Black Cod Marinated with Pistachio Miso
Heirloom Tomatoes, Elderflower, Homemade Raspberry Vinegar, Tonka Bean, Fresh Verbena
- Not too bad, but Flan is a better alternative

Foie gras ($30 supplement)

Organic Long Island Duck
Organic Golden Nevada Dates. Hudson Valley Hand Milled Polenta, Confit of Young Organic Clementines
- A different variety from last year's. Not too bad but still prefer last year's.

Hot Caramelized Anjou Pear
Valrhona Chocolate, Biscuit Breton, Hot Toffee Sauce
Lemon Verbena and Tahitian Vanilla Ice Cream

Chilled Rhubarb Soup
Santa Barbara Organic Strawberries, Buckwheat Gelato

Kingston, NY White Peach Soup
Amaretto Ice Cream, Crystallized Honey

Hot Valrhona Chocolate Soufflé
White Coffee Cloud, White Chocolate Ice Cream, Chocolate Mousse

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Sushi bar @ Sushi Nakazawa

Sukiyabashi Jiro is a small restaurant in Tokyo which garnered three Michelin stars and the reputation of the world's best sushi. I came to know about it from friends and after watching Jiro's Dream of Sushi. Though I wanted to try it, I was not able to justify the price as I am not a sushi person. Instead, we tried Nihonryori RyuGin instead. Anyway, we were excited to try Nakazawa when it first opened in NYC, except that it was challenging to get a reservation.

After religiously checking Open table almost daily and every midnight, we finally got reservation for its 10-seat sushi bar. Only 20-courses omakase menu is served ($120 or $150 per person).

Priced $30 more, I would recommend people to aim for the sushi bar if you like to (1) see behind the scene, (2) have your sushi prepared by Chef Daisuke and (3) have more interaction with the chef.

Overall impression:

I came to Nakazawa with a high expectation due to my Sushi Dai's experience. There were some memorable moments and the so-so moments. Ultimately after considering the meal value, Sushi Dai still left me with the best impression, for the best bang for the buck and the freshness. 

1) Sushi Dai -Tokyo (~$40 for 11 sushi depending on FX rate)
2) Sushi Nakazawa - NYC ($150++ for 20 sushi)
3) Sushi Yasuda - NYC (expensive and over hyped)

Daisuke Nakazawa personally prepared the sushi to those who ate at the bar ($150 per person). On the other hand, his assistants prepared for the patrons in the dining room ($120 per person).

Seating is based on first come first serve basis. We came 5 minutes late cause we saw a review saying that Daisuke's station was at the end. Well, I guessed he swapped daily as he was now in the center. There was more interaction if you sit right in front of him, but nevertheless, he also tried to strike conversation with others too

Wet towel to wipe your finger after each sushi

Torch is used frequently, unlike other sushi bar I've been

Using dropper of some sort  (left); adding pinch of salt (right)

Sushi are presented in the following chronological order. As a start, salmon from Hokkaido was presented. It was ok but there was a little hint of stale fishy smell.

Second was smoked salmon from Alaska. Much better than the first and has nice smoky flavor to it.

Dancing Scallop. After placing it, the chef gave it a little nudge and we saw it moved. Acknowledgment of its freshness. This was one of my favorites. It was tender and has a nice spiciness.

Mich played with her scallop further
Washington clam- lightly torched- it was ok.

Spotted grouper- It's ok and a little chewy.
Golden eye snapper with a little salt and lemon- Nice with little crunch.

There are 3 step process for the patrons in dining room.

Assistants cut and assemble sushi before handing it to the last assistant. He then transfers and arranges the sushi to a new plate. It will then be passed to the guy or girl in suit, who wipes the plates of any mess.

An assembly line indeed.

Fashioning duck face- jk- he's just explaining what the sushi was
Marbled flounder from Tokyo Bay- Pleasant with subtle flavor
Horse mackerel- soft and tender. Mildly flavored
7 day aged mackerel with japanese mustard- packed with more flavor but has a little fishy smell. Didn't know you can age fish.
Stone crab with roe and crab brain. Creamy and explosive with flavor. I found a crab 'shell' on mine and silently put it at the top of my serving plate.

At some point, the chef noticed the glaring white speck and asked if it was the crab shell, upon which I replied yes. He took it away and bowed apologetically "Sorry, I did the crab".

Should have said, "It's ok, what about discount?"

Chef Daisuke was a jovial person, often giving jokes and laughing.
Hammer shrimp- chewy.. a little overcooked perhaps?
Golden stripe yellow tail - Fresh, mild flavor
Bonito from Nagasaki Japan- Taste similar to the smoked salmon, has a nice smoky flavor.
Blue fin tuna 3 ways, 3 different cuts from the same fish.
Starting from leanest (left) to the fattiest (right). It was good, but I was hoping for the melt-in-your-mouth experience for the otoro by placing the fish directly on the tongue. Didn't have such experience
Finally, the uni
Sea urchin from Santa barbara- known for its creamy, buttery but distinctive taste. I feel it still pales in comparison to my Sushi Dai experience in Tokyo, where it was more pleasant tasting (less fishy smell).
Steelhead roe (?) from washington state, soaked with soy. It was a delightful burst of flavors.
Tuna handroll. There was a little too much wasabi or mustard on mine
Sea eel. Perhaps I took too many picture by the time I ate it, it was lukewarm and not satisfying for me.
Finally, the much anticipated tamago where it was claimed that it took Daisuke over 200 attempts before it was approved by Jiro, bringing him to tears.
A one-of-a-kind tamago. Its sweetness is similar to the tamago from Hatsu hana, but its texture is unique, and can be easily mistaken as a sponge cake.

Don't expect it to be a life changing experience though.
Yuzu sorbet- a nice delightful dessert to end the meal. Sweet and packed with yuzu. Frozen blackberry inside.
I don't know what the person in front of the chef said but he started to mimic godzilla

With the chef