Location: 3455 S. Overland Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90034. 310.836.6252
Date: June 22, 2012
It’s been an N/Naka couple of weeks. I was just there three weeks ago for an amazing Omakase. Now the Foodie Club returns for the “Farewell to Foie” dinner. For those of you that live in caves, California is on the verge of banning that most delectable of duck livers due to debatable animal rights issues. Chef Ms. Niki Nakayama has whipped up an entirely foie meal to celebrate the last month of foie!
From my cellar: “The Pinson 2008 Chablis Les Clos displays somewhat detached lanolin, resin, and vanilla from barrel, but also generous citrus tinged with chalk dust and white pepper typical for this site. With a sense of substantiality shared with other wines in its collection as well as a silken texture – yet with plenty of energy and saliva-inducement.” This wine is textbook white burgundy and Chardonnay at its best, flowery and rich in a way that new world Chards almost never achieve. But, as I was to observe, Chardonnay makes a really poor pairing with foie gras. The richness of the foie begs for something sweet like a Riesling Spatlese.
Saki Zuke (A pairing of something common and something unique) – Custard of Organic Farm-fresh Jidori Chicken Egg and Hudson Valley Foie Gras topped with Seared Foie Gras on a Bed of Shredded Foie Gras, a Sauce of Balsamic Foie Gras Jus and a Flower of Pansy, Gold Leaf.
“Zensai (Main seasonal ingrediant presented as an appetizer) – Torchon of Hudson Valley Foie Gras served with Seared Unagi (Freshwater Eel), Brûléed Black Mission Figs, Roasted Bing Cherries, a Sweep of Bittersweet Chocolate and a Sauce of Cabernet Sauvignon and Bing Cherries and Gelée of Sanbaizu.”
“Modern Zakuri (A modern interpretation of sashimi) – Hokkaido scallops with Hudson Valley Foie Gras Crumbles, Shaved Zest of Fresh Yuzu, garnished with leaves of Baby Red-veined Sorrel from Niki’s Garden and Sprouts of Daikon and Drops of Ponzu Reduction.”
“Otsukuri (Traditional Sashimi) – Live Hirame (Halibut) from Jeju, Korea, thinly sliced with a Flower of Pansy from Niki’s Garden and a Sauce of Foie Gras Ponzu.” The foie in the ponzu added a lovely touch of richness to this otherwise simple sashimi.
The 2000 Domaine Ponsot Chapelle Chambertin Grand Cru was a spectacular example of grand cru red Burgundy brought by Foodie co-chair EP. Every time I taste a very good burgundy with a little age on it I remember why I love burgs so much. Just spectacular.
“Mushimono (Steamed dish) – Black Abalone from Monterey and Hudson Valley Foie Gras poached in Dashi and served with the Poaching Liquid and Scallions.” This sure is a lot of foie! The combination was incredible, and the broth even better. Notice that the bowl has a little “spigot” on the right for pouring it out onto a spoon. I spilled some and debated licking it off the table — not kidding.
“Shiizakana (Not bound by tradition, the Chef’s choice dish) – Ravioli stuffed with Diver Scallops from Hokkaido, Japan, Maine Lobster Tail and Hudson Valley Foie Gras with a Sauce of Yuzu Brown Butter.” Absolutely to die for ravioli with a dough much like that of a Har Gow.
“Niku (Meat Course) – Beef Houbayaki – American Wagyu Beef Ribeye Steak topped with Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras, Scallions on a Sauce of Sweet Red Miso, on a Magnolia Leaf that sits on top of Charcoal.” Rich enough? Wagyu AND foie?
For the sushi flights we ordered this ultra premium sake. I’ve had both this semi-sweet version and the same maker’s dry. The semi-sweet is worlds better in my opinion, perhaps the best sake I’ve ever had.
“Palate Cleanser – some marinated fish bit with tomato from Niki’s garden.”
“Shiizakana 2 – Risotto of Unagi (Freshwater Ell) with Unagi Sauce and topped seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras.” Another incredible dish, although just loaded with foie. I love rice with Unagi sauce all by itself and the foie drippings made it 10x better!
“Palate Cleanser – Sorbet of Yuzu”
“Dessert – Crème Brûlée of Black Sesame Seed.” Rich and creamy.
Artisan Hojicha tea.
N/Naka really is a very special place. All the meals I had here were spectacular (here for the first, here for the second, here for the third). But this last was just crazy out of this world. I was actually a little worried before hand that it would be too much foie (like our crazy 27 course truffle dinner), but despite the length (6 hours!), and the insane amount of foie it was actually manageable. And beyond all that, Chef Niki managed to actually enhance every single dish with all that richness. Foie isn’t a typical Japanese ingredient, but it didn’t throw any dish for a loop. Most were extremely memorable and all were fantastic.