Japanese-French-California fusion. Sacre bleu! And also gochiso-sama deshita.
My parents took us out for dinner. I contributed a $40 coupon I'd acquired from one of the numerous daily-deal sites. How do I love thee, YipIt? Let me count the dollars saved...
Amuse bouche: Pâte à choux shell filled with red miso and braised beef.
Complimentary french bread with toasted rice baked in. Mmm, toasty.
Riesling, Mittnacht-Klack Schoenenbourg Vyd, France 2003. Sweet, but not overly so. Complex. Hints of honey, aftertaste of apricots.
- Potato soup with ginger. Contained no dairy, yet came across as creamy. Ginger nice for clearing the palate, and sinuses.
- Vegetable caponata, poached organic egg, parmesan. Not actually Japanese or French -- Sicilian. Lightly sweet-pickled eggplant, red bell peppers, tomato, zucchini, possibly some other veggies I'm forgetting. Plus capers. You can never go wrong with capers. Delicious with the runny yolk from the egg, and the parmesan, and a little salt and pepper.
- Golden beet carpaccio, roasted paprika coulis, mizuna, truffle tapenade. Wafer-thin slices of beet, barely cooked (if at all?), very sweet, earthy. Paprika coulis brings color, a little heat, a bit of fruitiness, smoke. Truffles (more wafer-thin slices) add even deeper earthiness, and umami complexity (I don't usually go for mushrooms, but bits of good black truffle are yummy). Mizuna very young, crisp, not stringy. (I had a mildly traumatic near-choking experience with some older mizuna once -- if you try to swallow it when one end is stuck in your teeth, it will try to strangle you. In general, I don't like it. Too fibrous.)
- Herb marinated ocean trout, (some other element? the menu on the website shows some previous version of this dish that used hearts of palm, but I'm sure that wasn't it), ikura (salmon roe), sauce gribiche. Served like a ceviche or sushi. I tried a bit; not crazy about the texture, but then I don't generally like raw fish. Still, the flavor was good. I wouldn't have thought to pair fresh-ish fish with a pickly sauce. Though, I suppose sushi rice uses vinegar and sugar, and it's commonly served with pickled ginger.
- Sauteed Orata (a fish), kabu (Japanese turnip), fennel, forest mushrooms, potato mousseline. I don't think I got a bite of this, but evidently my parents liked it.
- Day boat sea scallop, saffron Yukon potato chowder, popover. Very simple, showcasing the lightly-seared scallops. I think the little popover may've had a bit of saffrony potato stuffed into it, or something? In any case, Xta liked her scallops.
- Sonoma duck breast, baby mizuna, mascarpone mustard, dried chutney. Duck cooked perfectly; cheese, mustard, chutney all played very well together -- smooth, creamy, spicy, savory, sweet...
- Kurobuta (Berkshire pork), coco blanc beans, bacon, apple-ginger chutney. This was the dish I actually ordered for myself. It was delicious, though I would've preferred a slightly smaller cut of pork, with a larger portion of the various side/accent things. The chutney, in particular, was wonderful.
- Apple dumpling (with a bit of brie and chutney cooked inside the dumpling, for a savory-sweet touch), french vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce. My parents had this, and I wish I'd gotten a taste; she said it was really good.
- Caramelized banana, black rice pudding, banana ice cream -- I think this would've been better had the banana itself been a shade riper. It was still pretty darn good. The black rice pudding was really nice, bringing out the nuttiness of the rice.
- Black sesame blancmange, pineapple strawberry salsa, coconut milk reduction. Xta and I shared this and the banana; she said if we go back, she's just ordering this, and not sharing. It's amazingly smooth, and the sesame flavor somehow manages to be simultaneously delicate and intense. The pineapple and strawberry bits (roasted in vanilla-bean oil) give you little fireworks of flavor.
- Complimentary house truffles rolled in toffee and nuts, and mini almond cakes.
Was amused by the Japanese Toto toilet in the bathroom. Left completely stuffed. I think unfortunately I didn't get all the flavors I could've out of some of the things we had, because I was just starting to feel the effects of the bug I came down with today. Sigh. Anyways, we'll have to go back some time, though there are so many good places around SF, it's hard to make return trips to any but our absolute favorites, or ones that are particularly convenient to other places we want to be...