Thursday, October 6, 2011

Modern Kaiseki at n/naka

My first kaiseki experience was at Wakuriya in San Mateo, and I was very excited when I found out that Chef Niki Nakayama from Inaka had opened up her own spot in Palms and was serving modern kaiseki.
While there is a seasonal menu posted online, Chef Nakayama may change a few dishes any day depending on what looks good in her garden that day. The restaurant was a little hard to find, sitting in a dark corner of Overland Ave. There's no sign, just the number. On my visit, we opted for the 9 course Chef's Tasting ($110) with wine pairing ($55).

Saki Zuke (a pairing of something common and something unique)
Chef's garden eggplant puree, Scottish smoked salmon, Osetra caviar, creme fraiche, chives
The dish was paired with a sparking wine: Jean Philippe Cuvee
Eggplant Puree
This was one of those item the chef decided to put on after seeing what looks good in her garden that morning, and indeed the eggplant puree was excellent. The combination of eggplant and smoked salmon is not one I would've expected, but it worked wonderfully.

Blue crab stuffed sword squid, mushroom sautee, bacon powder, balsamic reduction
Paired with 2010 Morgadio Albarino, Rias Biaxas, Spain

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Taste of Piemonte: Vietti Wine Dinner at Ombra (Studio City)

What better wines to pair Italian food with than Italian wines? Recently, the newly opened Ombra in Studio City held a wine pairing dinner with an old winery from Piemonte, Vietti. Mario Vietti started making Vietti wines in 1919, although the history of the winery itself traces back to the 19th century.

Ombra is chef Michael Young's first venture as a chef/owner, but he has trained under some big Italian names in Los Angeles including Angelo Auriana at Valentino and Celestino Drago. Story has it that the lawyer working with French Laundry was impressed by his cooking at Domenico's in Silver Lake. He then suggested that Young open his own restaurant - and that was Ombra.

As with any meal at Ombra, our wine dinner started with arancini (fried risotto) and bread with eggplant caponata.


Vitello Tonnato (roast veal with tuna sauce)
Vitello Tonnato
Apparently this is a traditional dish from Piedmont. Why have I not had this before? All the garnishes that normally come on smoked fish is here, but with veal! I will have to keep an eye out for this dish in the future.

This was paired with a 2010 Vietti Arneis

A very clear white, with hints of stone fruit and light acidity - refreshing but does not overpower the dish. The wine takes away the sharpness of the onion and the fishiness a bit, while the creamy tuna sauce cuts the acidity.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Get On the Lobsta Truck!

I'm not one to chase down food trucks, but I've been curious about the Lobsta Truck for a while since all my friends and fellow food bloggers seem to love it (one Boston transplant says that it's legit). My chance to try it came when they parked outside of Scoops Westside one Tuesday evening.

They were already out of the crab roll by the time I got there, so my companion and I got one of each lobster roll: with mayo or with butter. Apparently, for Bostonians, the proper way to eat a lobster roll is with mayo (celery and pepper optional).

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