gamtae seaweed, anchovy sauce, sunchoke puree, ginger, chive
Good, but not as good as the impression I got from everyone’s review of the iwashi toast. Nice sardine, but apart from the interesting crisp it was sitting on, not a whole lot else was distinguishable.
Scallop Foie Gras Tartlet
squid ink saffron aioli, fig marmalade, trout roe, champagne gelee
Incredible, possibly the bite of the year. Overtones of caramalized honey, probably from the fig marmalade. Scallop was texturally robust and stood up to everything else piled on top of it. The foie was almost redundant (though I don’t think it was unnecessary or distracting).
nori sauce, spring onions, shiso flowers
By itself, the katsuo was absolutely flawless. The nori sauce was deeply unlike anything I’ve ever had before - it was almost like a puree. Unlike what you might expect it wasn’t particularly salty or ocean-flavored; definitely packed quite a bit of umami but more in the “unidentifiable mixture of delicious vegetables” direction. Very good counterpoint to the fish. There was a bit of shiso oil, and I wish there’d actually been more, since it also paired very well with the katsuo.
Tang Pyeong Chae with Truffle
mung bean jelly salad, house-made perilla oil, American wagyu sirloin
We were instructed to mix it up thoroughly before eating. Once again, very far afield from anything I’ve had before. Possible the first(?) dish I’ve ever eaten when I actually noticed any flavors imparted directly by shaved truffles (not counting things cooked with truffles), and it was quite good, in a fairly funky way. Great mix of textures with the thin strips of beef, various shaved vegetables, jelly noodles, etc.
Kawahagi with Caviar
new potato, creme fraiche, liver sauce, chives, astrea caviar
I must really not be a caviar person because that was the only part of this dish that I didn’t get. The potato, fish, chives, and liver sauce were all perfect together. The caviar was perfect too, but
mushroom, liver sauce, Damsoul pine glaze, kombu
Abalone was very well cooked - super tender - but possibly outshone by the mushrooms. Liver sauce was fantastic, could just use a bucket of that stuff. (Liver seems to be something of a recurring theme, here. Can’t say I disagree with it.) The kombu was cute - very dry, interesting flavor, needed just a little bit with each bite.
beef cheek, napa cabbage, Chinese chive, garlic scape, beef jus
Totally unexpected hit. Super tender beef cheek inside the cabbage wrapping, incredible depth of flavor in the beef jus; this could easily be a centerpiece dish at a 3-star restaurant.
Tachiuo with Dungeness Crab
koshihikari rice, licorice, pickled ramps
The beltfish was good - perfectly cooked, crispy skin, the works. At the end of the day, though, it was “just” fish. The rice was carrying this dish - excellent bite, taken over the top by the crab mixed in. Just give me a bowl of that for lunch… every day.
(Pickled ramps were also )
wheat flour noodles, perilla, deodeok, fiddlehead
The noodles were excellent, as was the broth, but the lamb was a bit too gamey. If it’d been less gamey this would have been an easy 4- dish.
Rice Cake, ???
I didn’t manage to catch what the other thing on the plate was. Sorry to say but these were both total whiffs. Possibly I just didn’t understand the intention here, but the rice cake was texturally a bit paste-like and the other thing was almost entirely flavorless, with not a whole lot going on in the texture department either.
Omija Lemon Sorbet
On the other hand, this was delicious and I want to buy pints of it now. My first time having omija, and wow, they sure aren’t kidding about the “five flavors”. (I think I only teased apart 3, but that’s more than most things have!)
Despite the weird whiff with the first dessert item, this was easily one of the best meals of my life. Many of the 4- ratings were borderline 5s; someone with different tastes could’ve swung the other way on them - i.e. literally everything between the scallop tartlet and the mandu. Huge density of novel (to me) flavors, flawless cooking, even the settings were perfect - and I don’t usually pay those much attention. Possibly the most incredible part was that I wasn’t hungry at the end
Hopefully both chefs set up shop somewhere I can more regularly patronize