Restaurant: Yamakase [1, 2, 3, 4]
Location: You wish you knew!
Date: December 17, 2015
Rating: Best yet!
My Foodie Club Yamakase meal last May was so good, we just had to go back before the year was out.
Again we had the whole place, but it’s a new place, having moved a little closer to my house into a space that is perhaps twice as large. Now that’s still small, but they have about 4-5 feet behind you instead of 18 inches and there is a section beyond the 11-12 person sushi bar with a couple of tables. No one else was there besides our 12, so we just used those tables for wine staging.
2002 Billecart-Salmon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut Millésimé. A nice youthful vintage Champy.
Homemade sesame tofu, Momotaro tomato, and uni. A “typical” Yamakase uni/tofu dish. Great interplay of textures and flavors.
From my cellar: 1990 Louis Jadot Bâtard-Montrachet. 94 points. Superb rich butterscotch nose. Medium gold in color. Not oxidized. Classic batard richness and oiliness. Still some fruit but the oak becames more prominent with time.
Abalone with eel sauce. The crunchy chewy mollusk simply served and delicious.
From my cellar: 1995 Pierre Morey Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières. 89 points. This was a nice Perrieres, showing round yellow fruit and slight florals, although it could have used a bit more acidity. I’ve had 3 bottles of this before, and this was the weakest yet.
Persimmon butter sandwich. This is an odd one, but delicious. The orange stripes are dried persimmon which has been hung to dry for months. This is a traditional Japanese New Year preparation and very highly prized. The lighter stripe is frozen high end butter! Almost like a little petite four.
1996 Verget Corton-Charlemagne. VM 91+. Extremely reticent aromas of Granny Smith apple and white chocolate. Vibrant and powerful, but hermetically sealed today. All sinewy structure, with a blazing mineral character and a slightly hard green edge. I’m a bit less confident about the future of this wine than I was a year ago. But certainly true to its terroir.
Lobster, baby peach, scallop, seaweed. I loved the sweet/tangy sauce too. Very lovely.
2002 Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne. Burghound 93. Brilliant and ultra fine aromas of green apples and limestone lead to almost Chablis-like intensity and razor-sharp, incredibly delineated, chiseled flavors that offer superb texture and an almost chewy finish. This is quite different from many examples of 2002 Corton-Charlemagne as this more of a world class gymnast than a weight lifter as it’s sleek, silky and taut plus the delineation is like a hot knife through butter. In short, this is reference standard Corton-Charlemagne and highly recommended.
Oyster, uni, quail egg, caviar. One of these super Yamakase spoons of crazy umami-rich ingredients.
2005 Louis Jadot Corton-Charlemagne Domaine des Héritiers Louis Jadot. Burghound 94. A strikingly complex nose of green apple fruit, pear and a distinct floral note complements perfectly the hugely powerful flavors brimming with dry extract and built on a base of solid minerality. This is a borderline massive wine that is textured, concentrated and sleekly muscled yet it remains precise, pure and balanced with positively huge length. A very impressive wine that could actually surprise to the upside as the underlying material here is as good as any 2005 Corton-Charlemagne.
Cod sperm sack. Oh yeah, looks like a miniature brain. Filled with creamy cod sperm goodness. This was just steamed and served with a light ponzu. If you can get over the look and idea of it, it was delicious.
2004 Bouchard Père et Fils Corton-Charlemagne. VM 95+. Pale, bright color. A quintessence of Corton-Charlemagne dirt on the nose: stone fruits, lemon, iodine, ginger, minerals and mint, all complicated by a musky, leesy note that reminded me of a Coche-Dury wine. Then compellingly dense and penetrating in the mouth, with captivating, soil-driven flavors of raw pineapple, white peach, white flowers and crushed rock; a sulfidey complexity and a saline element add to the wine’s spectacular subtle complexity. Hardly a blockbuster but conveys an impression of great solidity. This remarkably precise wine coats the palate with dusty stone and leaves behind a suggestion of honey. My sample at Bouchard in early June was painfully young and closed though obviously outstanding, but this bottle, tasted in New York in August, was spectacular. (Incidentally, my following notes on the Chevalier-Montrachet, Chevalier-Montrachet La Cabotte and Montrachet were from bottles tasted at Bouchard-also quite backward at the time-and I would expect my scores to prove to be conservative.)
Glass fish wrapped in shiso leaf, with shiso flowers and a light tangy sauce. I’ve never had the shiso flowers, which carried a light shiso flavor. I love shiso.
1995 Domaine Leflaive Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet. Burghound 93. An extremely fresh anise-infused nose features the classic ripe honeysuckle and subtle spiced citrus aromas that continue onto the very rich, generous and lightly mineral suffused medium-bodied flavors that coat the palate with dry extract on the impressively long finish. This is lovely and displays no botrytis notes and for my taste, this could benefit from another year or two of cellar time and then drink well for at least another decade in this format.
Frozen toro and blue crab on toast. This toast and rich toro/crab combo is so good. Like a super high end version of a tuna sandwich.
Yama-san working with his beef.
1969 Remoissenet Père et Fils Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Aux Malconsorts. 93 points. Step up in finesse and elegance on the palate (not always associated with Malconsorts). This remains powerfully tannic but it is ripe although tannins are a touch rustic on the finish. Overall this has terrific full flavour and is in outstanding condition.
Sliced seared beef with ponzu and chives. A very light delicious beef carpaccio.
2003 François Raveneau Chablis 1er Cru Montée de Tonnerre. VM 90-2. Very pale, green-tinged color. Pure, reticent nose hints at cold steel and lime. Dense, sweet and vibrant, with enticingflavors of white peach, minerals and spring flowers. Finishes bright and very long, with an almost tannic impression of power.
Truffle, crab, quail egg, uni parfait. Classic Yamakase greatness.
2004 Moët & Chandon Champagne Cuvée Dom Pérignon. VM 97. Racy, silky and vibrant in the glass, the 2004 Dom Pérignon is all about energy. Here the flavors are bright and delineated throughout, with veins of acidity and minerality that give the wine its sense of drive. Mint, rosemary and yellow-fleshed fruits linger on the finish with the classic DP reductive overtones that are such a signature. Once again, the 2004 Dom Pérignon truly shines. The 2004 Dom Pérignon is a wine to treasure over the next thirty or so years.
Hokkaido scallops with Japanese roe and olive oil and yuzu. The sauce elements worked together like a dressing and then combined with the soft scallop and the slightly chewy umami of the roe into an amazing concoction.
The olive oil was from Eisele vinyard! Yeah, like the WOTN the previous week at the California dinner.
Krug Champagne Brut Rosé. Burghound 94. Medium rosé hue. A cool, restrained and highly complex nose that is not especially fruity displays a moderate yeast character along with slightly exotic aromas of mandarin orange and Asian tea, all wrapped in an enveloping array of beguiling rose petal scents. There is very good richness with a relatively firm supporting mousse that adds to the impression of richness to the superbly complex and highly textured flavors, indeed one could aptly describe this as more wine that Champagne. As such this is indeed a sumptuous Krug rosé that is difficult to resist already though it should reward extended keeping if desired.
Bluefin tuna, caviar, pine nuts. Some of the best chunks of tuna I’ve had.
1999 Sine Qua Non Tarantella. VM 92. Slightly hazy pale gold color. Captivating, soil-inflected, but rather restrained nose combines gunflint, nuts, smoke and stone. Then wonderfully aromatic, rich and vibrant in the mouth, with intense yellow fruits and musky, leesy and mineral nuances. Thick but utterly succulent thanks to lively, perfectly integrated acids. Long, palate-saturating finish. Potentially Manfred Krankl’s best dry white wine since his 1995 The Bride.
Yellowfin or some similar fish lightly flash boiled and then served with a lovely vinegar based sauce. The fish was melt in your mouth.
2004 François Raveneau Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos (magnum). Burghound 95. This too is ultra pure and fine with its nose of wet stone, white flower, sea water and iodine that precedes delicious, full, detailed and impeccably well balanced flavors that are tight but long with a laser-like sense of focus and coherency. This too finishes with noticeable austerity yet there is real freshness and presence, indeed vibrancy here. The ’04 Le Clos will require at least 5 to 7 years to really begin to open up but once it does, it should drink well for 15. A stunner of a wine and one of the stars of the vintage that will be a long distance runner.
agavin: sadly, this bottle was corked 🙁
Foie gras, toro, quail egg, truffle cheese, blue crab. Wow! This dish was absolutely out of this world. Just crazy rich and delicious. You wouldn’t think it works, but it’s amazing.
From my cellar: 2006 Krug Champagne Brut Grande Cuvée. AG 94. Mint, white flowers, pastry and yellow orchard fruit meld together in Krug’s NV Grande Cuvée. This is one of the very best versions of the Grande Cuvée I can remember tasting in recent years. The impression of total silkiness on the palate is classic Krug. Even though this release is exceptional today, I would be tempted to cellar a few wines for the future, as the best Grand Cuvées age effortlessly. This release is based on 2006 and includes wines from 11 vintages going back to 1990.
King crab, steamed. Simple steamed fresh crab.
Ron generously brought: 2000 Emmanuel Rouget Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Cros Parantoux. Burghound 91-93. Wonderfully aromatic with essence of pinot fruit plus racy and rich flavors, slightly oaky flavors that have abundant material underlying the cool, reserved edge. Complex, long, fine and seamless with a sweet backend that builds in volume. Very impressive for the vintage and this too delivers buckets of marvelously intense sappy extract.
agavin: drinking great, with a real lovely power.
Erick brought: 1991 Domaine Dujac Charmes-Chambertin. 92 points. Quite nice for the vintage.
The chef is working on his ramen broth. Notice the noodle bowls ready for filling.
Ultimate ramen bowl. This foie gras based seafood broth was topped with truffles and filled with yummy seafood bits. Underneath are the ramen noodles. There was crab, beef, oyster, and who knows what else in here. Absolutely stunning. So rich. So good.
From my cellar: 1982 Domaine Marquis d’Angerville Volnay 1er Cru Clos des Ducs. Burghound 88. Superb nose of dried rose petals trimmed in minerals and damp earth follow by middle weight, slightly thinning flavors that display excellent complexity and frankly more structure than the mid-palate sap can adequately buffer on the finish. That said, this receives its marks for the sheer breadth of flavors and the clean, pure character. This is a first rate effort in what was a very difficult vintage.
agavin: 94 points. I thought this was drinking great.
Yama-san cutting the kobe beef.
This is real Kobe, from Kobe. It comes with a certificate of authenticity that includes the cow’s nose print and stats. Yeah, the actual animal.
Kobe beef with truffle pepper sauce. Melt in your mouth with a bit of pepper kick.
Real wasabi being ground for the sushi.
2001 Domaine / Maison Vincent Girardin Chevalier-Montrachet. VM 92. Yellow fruits, smoky oak and a suggestion of truffley earth on the nose. Rich, ripe and smooth, with fruit-driven flavors of white plum and wet stone. Almost deceptively accessible today, as this has softer acidity and a bit less volume and grip than the 2002. Oaky on the finish, but boasts lovely fruit.
2002 Bouchard Père et Fils Chevalier-Montrachet. Burghound 93. More noticeable wood spice than in the prior wine combines with wonderfully pure green fruit and white pear aromas underscored by intensely stony notes, leading to ripe, chiseled, vibrant, wonderfully precise flavors that offer excellent definition. This really coats the palate and the finish lingers for several minutes. I like the punch here yet the intensity is delivered in an ultra refined, classy and pure style.
Dr Dave brought: 2008 Etienne Sauzet Chevalier-Montrachet. Burghound 96. notably more elegant, cooler and more reserved nose of white flower, green apple and ample minerality complements to perfection the silky-textured, pure and stylish medium weight plus flavors that possess excellent volume but also wonderful detail and punch while culminating in an intensely mineral finish of superb intensity while remaining a study in purity and refinement. This is one of those ‘wow’ wines that amazes through transparency and delicacy rather than brute force. Still, don’t be fooled by the finesse as the intensity is such that a deep breath is required after sampling this.
agavin: I’d agree with the 96, this was a VERY sexy Chevy.
Blue fin sushi. Bordering over to chu-toro. Just a lovely bit of sushi.
2002 Domaine Leflaive Bâtard-Montrachet. Burghound 94. An expressive, elegant and pure nose of spice, white flower and green fruit aromas are followed by dense, big, rich and explosive full-bodied flavors that are blessed with abundant dry extract and a finish that won’t quit. Not withstanding all of the size and weight, this is impeccably balanced and overall, this continues to display that “wow” factor. Note that like many ’02s at this point, the ’02 Bâtard could certainly be drunk with pleasure but for my taste, I would suggest a few more years in the cellar first. Consistent notes.
From my cellar: 2001 Domaine Leflaive Bâtard-Montrachet. Burghound 93. Big, rich and muscular yet this offers excellent definition with explosive fruit trimmed in obvious anise notes and luxuriant, sappy, dense flavors of uncommon depth and complexity. The finish is rather linear presently yet offers wave after wave of mouthwatering extract, all beautifully framed by more than sufficient buffering acidity. A Bâtard worthy of the name and a great success for the vintage.
From my cellar: 1999 Domaine Jacques Prieur Montrachet. Burghound 93. Young Montrachet can often be quite austere yet this is forward and flashy with expressive aromas of oak spice, orchard fruits and a background note of acacia blossoms followed by large scaled, relatively dense flavors of remarkable complexity and a fine minerality that continues on into the intense and remarkably powerful finish. A very impressive effort.
agavin: so big it probably needs even more time.
O toro with salt. Wow, wow wow. These might have been rich, but they were some of the best nigiri I’ve had in a long long time. Chef Yama spent a lot of time cutting and probably threw away 2/3 of the fish.
2005 Henri Boillot Corton-Charlemagne. Burghound 95. Here the nose is completely different with pungent and almost aggressively intense green apple aromas infused with an underlying sense of wet stone that is in keeping with the character of the pure, chiseled and fantastically intense full-bodied and muscular flavors that possess serious punch and verve on the equally explosive and very fresh finish. This also has that ‘wow’ sensation because of the beautiful sense of tension that is like a tightly coiled spring. Terrific.
2008 Paul Pernot et ses Fils Bâtard-Montrachet. Burghound 95. An almost completely inexpressive but relatively high-toned nose of lemon rind, acacia blossom, ripe peach and apricot gives way to almost painfully intense full-bodied and overtly muscular flavors that offer exceptional richness on the magnificently long, mouth coating and palate staining finish that is wrapped around a very firm core of ripe acidity. Chez Pernot, I typically prefer the Bienvenues but as good as it is, and it is very good, in 2008 I give the nod to the Bâtard, if only by a nose, no pun intended.
Uber handroll. Uni, king crab, toro, shiso. You’ve never had a handroll quite like this powerhouse!
Emil brought: Pappy Van Winkle 20 Year Old Family Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, 45.2%. 95 points. This was a great Bourbon and Emil was very generous because these are selling for a lot of money. Perhaps, however, a big glass of this at the end of a meal, after 27 bottles of wine split by 11 people wasn’t such a wise move as my hangover was pretty epic too.
A bit of berry sorbet. Dessert is not a big deal at Yamakase.
27 bottles of wine (well 26, with one being a magnum). 12 people (but 11 real drinkers). Plus a 750 of Bourbon. That 2.34 bottles of wine alone per person. Woah! Great stuff tonight too. Only the 2004 Rav was seriously flawed. We had lots of great whites. The awesome Krug Rose, and the few reds we did open (Yamakase being a white focused cuisine) were stunning. Really great stuff.
Plus, food-wise, this was one of my best meals this year — really quite excellent — and regular readers know I have more than my share of great meals. A really great format. A total blow out and Yama’s cuisine keeps gaining in strength and power. Really quite incomparable.
Oh, and that toro cheese dish and foie gras “ramen” are just to die for.
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