Several more really epic Longo meals have been rolled into this mega post.
Several more really epic Longo meals have been rolled into this mega post.
Location: 150 S Barrington Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90049. (323) 382-5635
Date: Spring 2021
Cuisine: Japanese Sushi
Rating: Top Shelf Omakase Sushi
Great sushi is always a good excuse to pull out the beloved Champagnes.
I went a bunch of times before lockdowns to this awesome high end place in Brentwood, and ordered takeout a couple times during, now since Erick and I have both passed our “two weeks” we decided to celebrate with that most elusive of creatures at home: freshly packed nigiri.
The space is small but attractive (these are pre covid pics).
This is chef focused serious sushi, and so we pre-ordered the largest omakase possible — Erick even egged them on to a larger than offered menu. This picture is also pre-covid, post there is a plexiglass barrier across the bar and no bar seating.
Chef Shinichi Miyagi says about himself on his website:
Born in Osaka, the art of sushi mesmerized the chef at an early age and decided to devote his life as a “Decchi” (apprentice) under Master Higuchi at the age of 16. He opened his first “Kappo” (traditional style of cooking in front of a crowd) restaurant at the age of 25, and moved to LA at 29, working in numerous well known Sushi restaurants in West LA, Beverly Hills, and San Diego.
Through managing a Sushi restaurant in Manhattan Beach (i-naba), now in present day, he found an opportunity to try his skills as an executive chef in Brentwood/Los Angeles. The chefs many years of experience in choosing the freshest fish, will surprise even the most sophisticated pallets of this beautiful city.
His methods and techniques in preparation follows the traditional Japanese style, bringing out the true flavors of the fish. The chef also prepares two styles of rice, AKAZU SHARI (Red vinegar sushi rice), and SHIROZU SHARI (White vinegar rice). The SHARI (Sushi rice) will alternate depending on the fish being prepared, and we hope you enjoy the eclectic flavors of the different vinegars being used.
Erick brought: 1975 Moët & Chandon Champagne Cuvée Dom Pérignon. VM 97. The 1975 Dom Pérignon (Original Release) is fabulous. Rich, explosive and incredibly inviting, the 1975 possesses magnificent depth and pedigree to burn. The very first hints of aromatic nuance are starting to develop in a wine that comes across as remarkably youthful. Over the course of several hours, the 1975 loses some of its intensity, but it remains superb. This is a tremendous showing. (Drink between 2017-2027)
From my cellar: 1985 Moët & Chandon Champagne Cuvée Dom Pérignon. BH 95. At 30 years of age many ’85s in fifth are now tiring but the same wines in magnum are often still singing beautifully and the ’85 Dom is just one of those beauties with its elegant and highly complex nose that displays mature aromas of yeast, toast, baked apples, citrus, spice and soft floral nuances. The delicious and equally complex middle weight flavors are still supported by a firm but balanced mousse where the mouth feel is quite fine before culminating in a long, toasty and regal finale. This has arrived at its peak and should probably be drunk up over the next decade or so absent one having a preference for post-mature aromas and flavors. That said, anyone lucky enough to have this in magnum is in for a real treat! (Drink starting 2015)
From my cellar: NV Billecart-Salmon Champagne Brut Rosé. VM 92. A demi-bouteille of Billecart-Salmon Rosé: a safe option, but it does the job, even though I would say that a full bottle is better. (Drink between 2018-2025)
“starter plate” with Monkfish liver, Sawagani crab, oyster with caviar, firefly squid. All awesome.
Flash fried Sawagani crab from Miyazaki Japan. You pop these whole guys into your mouth and crunch. Incredible. We got more later (see below).
Trigger fish. With liver of same. Chive and roe.
Ayu fish grilled. Vinegar. Classic Japanese dish.
The special vinegar.
Red snapper shirako with truffles. The ever “popular” sperm sacks. Incredible!
Minuchi from Hokkaido. Lemon and salt.
Hokkaido scallop. salt.
Shimaji. Stripped jack.
Norwegian Salmon. There is this urban legend that the Norwegian trade board convinced the Japanese to start eating salmon. It’s not entirely true or untrue.
Spanish mackerel from Japan.
Taco (octopus) suckers, grilled.
Blue fin tuna. 5 days aged. Incredible.
O Toro. Melts in your mouth.
Seared Baby barracuda.
Sea cucumber with ponzu. Jellyfish like texture. Excellent.
Sweet shrimp from Santa Barbara.
Santa Barbara uni.
Crab hand roll. I think this is where our mega omakase ended, but we weren’t even close to done after such a long time away from such great sushi, so we told him to just go nuts.
Second round of the shirako.
Black cod. Yuzu. Baby peach.
Anago liver. Shirako. Very interesting “deep” Japanese omega 3 flavor.
Marinated Sardine. Incredible.
Kinchi. Japanese rock fish.
Negi toro cut rolls (chopped toro and scallions).
Firefly squid with miso paste.
The bowl of live little crabs.
We eat went for 3 more Sawagani crab.
And another blue fin tuna.
Second o toro.
And finally some truffle ice cream, made by Miyagi (not me this time).
Sushi Miyagi is exactly the kind of sushi place I like best — all omakase and very traditional. This is some seriously good fish. Mostly just straight nigiri and a bit of spectacular sashimi and a handful of cooked dishes. This is really really good and instantly catapulted into the top westside sushi joints. Very friendly too. Intimate as well. Sushi at this level is all about the chef and Shinichi Miyagi is very talented.
Not for the sushi neophytes and roll loves, but fabulous for those of us who really enjoy great fish being showcased in a straightforward and delicious manner.
This was the perfect place to return to sushi post lockdown!
Restaurant: Cheng Long Xing Xie WangFu
Date: August 10, 2018
Cuisine: Hairy Crab
Rating: Amazing crab
We spent a hot day but fun day in Suzhou.
A city often called the “Venice of China” before returning to Shanghai and Pudong.
Our friend in Shanghai again offered to take us out, this time for some of the famed Shanghai Hairy Crab from Yangcheng Lake.
This lead us into the huge side lobby of an even huger Pudong tower.
And up to Cheng Long Xing Xie WangFu and…
It grandiose gates.
When we first sat, they showed us some of the bundled up crabs. For those not in the know, during the 9th and 10th months of the lunar calendar, autumn to you and I, Shanghai’s culinary scene is all about hairy crab. Hailing (supposedly, if not fake), only from Yangcheng Lake the crab has been famous for 2000 years!
But before that, we began with some cold appetizers like this wood ear mushroom and pearl onions.
This peanuts and other mushrooms.
A section of shrimp, pork, peanuts, and pickled vegetables.
Vegetarian abalone. Some kind of mushroom, but it was really delicious.
Crunchy pickled carrot. Sweet and absolutely delicious.
Nut cake. A bit like a peanut brittle.
The simple Shanghai shrimp are everywhere! You pour a bit of vinegar over them.
Spicy crispy beef. Delicious. I really loved this dish.
Now the crab dishes invade. First some sesame buns that you stuff…
To make hairy crab stuffed buns.
Here is the meat from the hairy crab, mixed with “crab brains” (which is really crab liver).
The staff showed us the whole steamed crabs after cooking.
More smoked sweet fish.
And the crab main event. Steamed Shanghai Hairy Crab. The guts proudly in the shell, the meat to the right, and the legs carefully prepared so that you can get every morsel out without any work. Love it when it’s easy!
A close up of the crab itself.
Steamed crab meat.
Super crab cake. The meat and some kind of breading in a shell. Scrumptious.
Crab XLB. Best Crab XLB I’ve every had. Crab and crab guts inside the delicate wrapper.
A bit of lemon juice (slightly sweet) to cleanse the taste.
With more crab guts.
For topping. This was some awesome umami crabby pasta.
And fried rice cakes.
Then sweet sesame balls. Like cute little eyeballs.
And a kind of wonton soup to close.
Overall, a unique meal I’ve never had before. Really fabulous crab and like a fancy Chinese version of one of the crab shacks from my youth.
Location: Near Pasadena
Date: April 25, 2018
Cuisine: Modern French
Six and a half years ago Foodie Club co-organizer Erick and I put together one of our more legendary dinners, the Bistro LQ Trufflumpagus. Ever since then we periodically trek out to visit our friend Chef Laurent for some kind of extravaganza — and tonight it’s his legendary seafood tower — plus tons of other goodies.
Chef Laurent Quenioux grew up in Sologne, France, where he developed a passion for food. As a young boy, Quenioux and his father would hunt duck, partridge, and rabbit. Then, he and his mother would prepare her favorite recipes in the kitchen. Eventually, Quenioux left home to embark on an apprenticeship where he trained in some of Europe’s finest kitchens. Quenioux spent time at Maxim’s, Bistro De Paris and La Ciboulette in Paris, before moving on to Negresco in Nice and LaBonne Auberge in Antibe.
In the early 1980s, Quenioux made a move to the United States with a team from L‘Oasis at La Napoule to open The Regency Club in Los Angeles. In 1985, he introduced the celebrated and award-winning 7th Street Bistro in downtown Los Angeles. In the early 2000s, Quenioux debuted the cozy Bistro K in Pasadena and in 2009, Bistro LQ in Beverly Hills. At Bistro LQ, Quenioux set new standards for cuisine in Southern California with his Farmer’s Market-driven kitchen and an emphasis on value and fun.
These days Laurent mostly hosts popups in his own backyard! We took the whole evening for some epic craziness. Some of my friends visiting from the Netherlands are pictured above.
From my cellar (to pair with Foie): 1990 Royal Tokaji Wine Co. Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos Betsek. RJ 93. From 500 ml – light medium orange brown color with dark orange lights; very aromatic, mature, orange marmalade, baked apricot, light mushroom, light tobacco, smoky orange syrup nose; mature, tasty, orange marmalade, baked apricot, light mushroom, light tobacco, smoky orange syrup, blood orange, orange honey palate with medium-plus acidity; very long finish 93+ points
From my cellar: NV Drappier Champagne Rosé Brut Nature Dosage Zero. BH 90. The color is paler than that of the regular brut rosé. A pretty and slightly more elegant nose features a similar aromatic profile but with more evident yeast character. There is fine intensity to the delicious and vibrant flavors that are supported by a firm and definitely finer mousse, all wrapped in a bone dry and youthfully austere finish where a hint of bitter cherry pit appears. This won’t be for everyone as the dryness is pronounced; I happen to like it but it would be fair to say that this is not a charmer. With that said, a few years of bottle age should serve to round off the austerity and add a bit of depth as well.
From my cellar: 2012 Prager Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Achleiten. AG 90. The restrained nose slowly reveals apple, orange zest, white pepper and wet slate. A taut spine gives lift to the rich texture, but the melon fruit and dried spice flavors are still tightly sealed. Well-balanced and showing noteworthy depth and structure, this veltliner is only just beginning to show its refreshing drinkability.
Spot prawns. Would you believe that everything you just say was all part of the FIRST (of 9!) courses? These were sort of like the sweet shrimp sushi with fried head — but all on one plate. Delicious.
From my cellar: 1985 Nicolas Potel Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Combettes. 88 points. Not the best of my bottles from this batch. This one not dead yet but it had lost most of that zippiness. All fatness, honeycomb and butterscotch. For those who like really mature white burg this may still be ok but if you are sensitive to oxidation then it really is time to drink up unless you lucked out with some very pristine bottles.
But first the sauces: mustard, aioli, horseradish, spicy mayo, mignonette.
From my cellar: 2009 Chapelle St. Theodoric Châteauneuf-du-Pape Les Sablons. AG 91. Deep ruby. Redcurrant and cherry scents are complemented by dried rose and garrigue A juicy, red-fruited midweight, accented by a slightly tart edge to its tangy cherry and floral pastille flavors. The brisk finish offers good clarity and cut, with silky tannins arriving late.
Apricot Lane Farms Spring Lamb 3 Ways. Braised lamb neck spring roll, lamb “noisette”, roasted lamb shoulder, preserved lemon emulsion, ras el hanout scented cordycep, dates puree with cumin. The spring roll was the best part.
Mini Cassoulet. Tarbais Beans slow cooked for 7 hours, Toulouse Sausage, garlic sausage, duck leg confit, smoked pork belly bacon style, confit duck gizzard. This dish is also a stunner. One of Laurent’s specialties and well worth it for the sausage alone!
Chocolate Cremeux. White chocolate coconut cheese cake, coconut ice cream, matcha meringue, chocolat chips. Laurent is amazing with these kind of desserts — basically a chocolate coconut cheesecake, but deconstructed into many textures.
On the right is Chef Laurent and behind him his busy crew.
This was another seriously epic night. We didn’t go too crazy with the wines since there were a lot of non wine people — there were plenty bottles, but more “normal” wines for us — but the food was absolutely over the top both in quantity and quality. Bravo Laurent.
Food: Petrossian Beverly Hills
Location: Gallery on Robertson Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90048.
Date: April 23, 2018
Cuisine: Caviar +
Rating: Great food
Reception was covered by NV Ruinart Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut (which I subsequently bought a bunch of). VM 92. Pale yellow. Complex, high-pitched aromas of orange zest, lemon pith, iodine, smoky minerals, anise and jasmine. Sappy and tactile on the palate, offering impressive volume to its ripe citrus and orchard fruit flavors accented by smoke and minerals. Finishes tangy and long, with lingering smokiness and an echo of anise.
And here is Ruinart Chef de Cave, Frédéric Panaiotis. He filled us in on all sorts of interesting details about Ruinart winemaking. I find these dinners are a great opportunity to explore the diverse individual house styles in Champagne.
2006 Ruinart Champagne Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs. VM 96+. One of the highlights among this year’s new tête de cuvée releases, 2006 the Brut Blanc de Blancs Dom Ruinart is a powerful, almost tannic Champagne built on structure and intensity. Then again, much of the Chardonnay here comes from the Montagne de Reims, where wines tend to naturally be quite broad. Even though it’s now ten years old, the 2006 is much less expressive than either the 2002 or 2004 at a similar stage. I expect it will be quite a few years before the 2006 is truly ready to drink. Over the years I have been fortunate to taste Dom Ruinart back to the 1970s, and while I don’t think the 2006 will need decades to be at its best, it certainly does look like a long distance runner. There is plenty of citrus and floral driven intensity, although the bouquet is less toasty and open than it often is. In short, the 2006 Dom Ruinart is a wine for those who can be patient. It will be a fine investment for those looking for a wine to cellar to commemorate special occasions.
I wish I had written down the 6 varieties of caviar. The strongest, briniest was my favorite — but I like full flavor.
2004 Ruinart Champagne Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs. VM 94. Vivid yellow. Pungent, heady aromas of ripe pear, orange pith, brioche and toasty lees, with a stony nuance adding lift and urgency. Smooth and expansive on the palate, offering intense citrus and orchard fruit flavors that pick up minerality and smokiness with air. Finishes sappy, penetrating and very long, with slow-building sweetness and a note of buttered toast.
2004 Ruinart Champagne Dom Ruinart Brut Rosé. VM 95. A wine of exquisite beauty, the 2004 Dom Ruinart Brut Rosé has the pedigree to drink well for several decades. The 2004 is an especially vinous, textured Rosé. The berry, floral, spice and mineral-drenched flavors are finely sketched in this dramatic, strikingly beautiful Rosé from Ruinart.
NV Ruinart Champagne Brut Rosé. VM 92. Light orange. Sharply focused red berry and tangerine scents are complicated by suggestions of allspice and cinnamon, with a hint of smokiness in the background. Sappy and minerally on the palate, offering fresh strawberry and blood orange flavors lifted by juicy acidity. Packs a serious punch but carries no excess weight and finishes stony and very long, with echoing red berry character.
1998 Ruinart Champagne Dom Ruinart Brut Rosé. VM 94. (85% chardonnay from grand crus in the Cotes des Blancs and Montagne de Reims and 15% grand cru pinot noir from Sillery and Verzenay that was made as still wine and blended into the final cuvee ; Lot AGBEA0): Orange-pink. Pungent aromas of dried red berries, orange zest and buttered toast, with a suave floral overtone. The palate offers smoky, expansive strawberry and candied citrus fruit flavors, plus suggestions of rose pastille, brioche and iodine. Finishes smoky, spicy and very long, with excellent clarity and an echo of juicy red berries.
1988 Ruinart Champagne Dom Ruinart Brut Rosé. VM 91. The 1988 Dom Ruinart Rosé is totally surprising,. Sweet tobacco, worn-in leather, earthiness, bramble and dried cherries meld together in the glass. The aromas and flavors are fully developed, yet the wine retains incredible density and pure power. Readers who enjoy fully mature Champagnes will adore the 1988 Dom Ruinart Rosé. The 1988 needs to be drunk sooner rather than later, as there is no upside from keeping bottles further. This is a rare vintage in which acidity was higher than alcohol!
I even got a second chunk by having Frédéric show me “how” the flower-like shape is made.
The full lineup.
Another stellar dinner from Liz and Sage Society! Very educational with Frédéric Panaiotis there and the way in which Liz has arranged the wines. The gallery setting tonight was extra lovely and really took the whole event to the next level.
And Liz does an absolutely amazing job with the food pairings. Petrossian’s food was amazing tonigt. Particularly the crab dish which was incredible. I’ll have to go back with a smaller group to Petrossian proper.
Restaurant: Tidewater Grille [1, 2]
Location: 300 Franklin St, Havre De Grace, MD 21078. (410) 939-3313
Date: November 22, 2017 & November 21, 2018
Cuisine: Coastal American
Rating: Fun spot on the shore
This is a simple place, but it serves up some good road stop lunch — certainly way better than McDonalds!
Restaurant: Shaking Crab
Location: 203 Adams St, Newton, MA 02458. (617) 795-1630
Date: October 19, 2017
Cuisine: Korean Cajun
Rating: Solid and spicy
During my Boston visit some of my friends took me to Shaking Crab, a “cajun” seafood joint. Interestingly, it’s EXACTLY like the LA area Boiling Crab.
The meat of the meal is all served in plastic bags. Seafood soaked in garlicky chili sauce. You can chose from 4 sauces and various heat levels.
“Blue Crab” and cajun sausage. Max spicy. It wasn’t that spicy, the sausage was small, and I’m pretty sure that isn’t blue crab. Still, it was pretty tasty (shells and all).Shrimp and clams. Really liked the clams. The shrimp tasted good but were a touch annoying to peel. We paid extra for no heads – worth.
This place is tasty, and reasonable (for all that seafood). But it is a mess. They give you bibs, gloves, etc. And the staff was very helpful. He helped crab the crab and shuck some stuff. Still it’s messy. One of my favorite parts was the garlicky slurry with the Dungeness Crab. It tasted just like XO sauce.
Restaurant: J&J Restaurant
Location: 301 W Valley Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776
Date: August 9, 2017
Cuisine: Shanghai Chinese
Rating: Great crab XLB, but rest was just so-so
As part 3 of our mini lunch SGV parley we move onto mini-mall classic J&J.
The typical pictorial menu.
Crab XLB. This is why you come here. These were the best crab XLB I’ve had. Nice delicate wrappers and lots of solid crab flavor. This should not be confused with a categorical statement that they were better than the best PORK XLB I’ve had — just different beasts. I should have ordered the regular pork ones as the shells were great and so those might also be excellent — but we didn’t.
Crab Rice Cake. Crab in a sort of lightly curried sauce with the chewy Shanghai rice cakes. I liked the cakes and the sauce, but there was almost no accessible crab meat — unless you are a seal or some other animal natural equipped with shell crushing teeth.
Sweet and Sour Pork Chop. Not a bad version of this dish. Sticky soy-sugar sauce, little bits of bone, but very soft accessible meat.
Since this was just a couple dishes as part of a multi-restaurant crawl we only had a few things. The Crab XLB were great, the other two dishes just fine. They used MSG (I could feel it after). The atmosphere wasn’t exactly lively or updated. Service was pleasant.
Restaurant: Top Island Seafood
Location: The Marketplace, 740 Valley Blvd, Alhambra, CA 91801. (626) 300-9898
Date: December 29, 2016 & July 17, 2017 and March 10 & September 15 and December 22, 2019
Cuisine: Cantonese Chinese
Rating: Great — and great value — Cantonese
The San Gabriel Valley is just oozing with new Chinese Restaurants to try.
And no category is more crowded than the Cantonese Banquet House. Top Island fits right in the middle of this pack, offering up all the luxury ingredients in a big format at reasonable prices. Look at that sign on the left, lobster for $8.99!
Sweet and sour goose webs (3/10/19). Goose webs are goose feet. These had the weird texture, but a really nice interesting sour flavor.
BBQ pork and jellyfish (3/10/19). Awesome sweet BBQ pork and first class jellyfish. Not all jellyfish is that great but this one was.
The super deluxe BBQ plate (earlier and 12/22/19) with pork, chicken, jellyfish, pork hock/foot and more (9/15/19)!
Westlake Beef Soup (9/15/19 and 12/22/19). Really addictive soft textured mix of ground beef (or maybe pork), tofu, egg white etc. Very mild but delicious.
Walnut shrimp. Sure it’s a white guy dish, but this was delicious.
Salt and pepper shrimp (9/15/19 and 12/22/19). Someone doesn’t know how to mix up the preps. Very salty, but delicious.
2006 Paul Hobbs Pinot Noir Hyde Vineyard. VM 89. Dark red. Subdued, brooding aromas of dark cherry and chocolate. Fresher red and dark berry flavors are brightened by zesty minerals and given grip by dusty tannins. Finishes with very good persistence but limited definition. A serious, deeply concentrated style of pinot that needs some cellar time to loosen up.
Peking Duck (earlier and 3/10/19 and 9/15/19 and 12/22/19). This particular duck came with buns instead of pancakes. These were really nice buns, smaller than some. The meat was great, as good as any LA peking duck.
The skin was in the first picture, most of the meat was here. Needed more hoisin sauce as usual.
2013 Boundary Breaks Vineyard Riesling No. 198 Reserve. VM 90. Quite reduced on the nose, with slightly shy aromas of Asian pear, white pepper, champagne mango and chamomile. The palate is quite honeyed and coats the cheeks and tongue in a soft layer of sweet fruit. A strong acidity keeps the palate in motion and prevents the wine from feeling fat. 58 grams per liter of residual sugar.
From my cellar: 2006 Henri Boillot Meursault 1er Cru Charmes. VM 93. Ripe peach, orange and hazelnut on the nose; a real essence of Charmes. Then opulent, sweet and rich but with very good inner-mouth tension to the ripe peach flavor. A seamless, highly concentrated wine with a wonderfully silky texture and a very long, fruit-driven finish. This fruit was harvested early, noted Boillot.
Seb brought: 2005 Didier Dagueneau Pouilly-Fumé Silex. 92+. There is no doubting this is Sauvignon blanc – it has that straight out green grass, a bit of lime, definitely very crisp although not tart. When NZ makes SB, this is what they are going for I think. Very well done version of that style.
Lobster noodles. A solid lobster dish. Maybe a touch “fishy” and while the noodles looked gross, they tasted great with the drippings.
2012 Giesen Pinot Noir The Brothers. VM 90. Bright medium red. Perfumed aromas of strawberry, rose petal and spices. Juicy and intense, offering very good concentration to its brambly red berry and cherry flavors. Finishes with firm but smooth tannins and very good tactile persistence.
Lobster Causeway style. Covered in crunchy garlic bits. Awesome! We ate the salty garlic by itself too afterward.
Dungeness Crab with garlic sauce (3/10/19). Very light fry. Delicious sauce and shell was soft enough you could crunch through it.
We didn’t have the King Crab the first couple of times I went but we should have. So we got one on 3/10/19. Only $17 a pound or something!
King crab causeway style (3/10/19 and 9/15/19 and 12/22/19). Might have been fried but those garlic bits were so good!
King crab with garlic (3/10/19 and 9/15/19 and 12/22/19). Tender and delicious.
Curried Meat. Can’t remember which meat, maybe beef or mutton. Pretty delicious though.
Seb brought: 2010 Marcassin Pinot Noir Blue-Slide Ridge Vineyard. 95 points. In a great place. A showy wine highlighting ripe red fragrant fruits with a sweet edgy appeal. Quite pretty for a large scale pinot as slightly faded sour cherry fruits are well integrated with bright acidity and baking spice. Finishes really lasts. Quality stuff.
Pigeon (earlier and 3/10/19 and 9/15/19 and 12/22/19). Straight from the Promenade — but actually quite nice.
Chopped pork and string beans. Classic dish. Excellent verison with crunchy beans and lots of pork.
Chinese greens. tasty (surprisingly).
A different tasty green (3/10/19 and 9/15/19).
Stalks with Chinese sausage (3/10/19 and 12/22/19). Love that salty/sweet sausage. Offsets the fibrous stalks nicely.
2015 Château Doisy-Daëne Grand Vin Sec. 93 points. Tasted like Durian! Very dry and very interesting.
2002 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon The Montelena Estate. VM 93. Good deep ruby-red. Highly aromatic nose combines musky redcurrant and tobacco. Plush, broad and fine-grained; atypically sexy and showy for this wine, in much the same way that Montelena’s basic 2002 Napa cabernet is unusually pliant and rich. Finishes with big, dusty, but rather suave tannins. This offers early accessibility but has the material and structure for extended aging. The alcohol here is 14.3%, the highest since the 1978, which was 14.4%.
Adam brought: 2004 Harlan Estate Proprietary Red Wine. Parker 98. Another rating identical to that which was given in 2007 (when first tasted from bottle), the 2004 Harlan Estate is performing essentially the way I suggested in 2007 as it is one of the more precocious and accessible of the Harlan Estate wines to date. A great showing at this retrospective, this wine, which seems like a hypothetical blend of a Pauillac, St.-Estephe and Graves, represents around 1,500 cases from 40 acres of beautifully manicured hillside vineyards overlooking Oakville. Still dense purple to the rim, with notes of creme de cassis, charcoal, blackberry and sweet toast, the wine is full-bodied and voluptuously textured with the tannins largely resolved. But the density and richness suggest this wine can go a long, long way, even though the window for drinking it seems open and inviting already. A world-class, first-growth wine if there ever was one from Napa, this is simply an exquisite Harlan Estate that has atypically reached mid to late adolescence at the age of ten. That is great given the fact that these are 30- to 40-year wines – possibly even half-century wines. Drink it over the next 30 years.
Black pepper beef (earlier and 9/15/19). Vietnamese style dish, quite good.
Steamed fish with ginger and soy. Too plain for my taste.
I brought some pistachio gelato from home (which I made).
Red bean soup for dessert. Looked like the output of a bad case of food poisoning.
Close up 9/15/19.
After my advanced gelato class, trying a slightly new pistachio formulation — Pistachio Madeline Gelato — base uses my same awesome Pistachios from Bronte Sicily but also a small amount of egg yolk for extra body. I baked the Madelines from scratch and soaked them in hand made Grand Mariner syrup — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — oh my! — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #IceCream #NomNom #dessert #Pistachio #lemon #orange #Sicily #GrandMariner #Madeline #cookie #baking
Getting whacky — Thai Peanut Coconut Lime Chili Gelato — Salty peanuts, Thai coconut cream, lime zest, and serrano chillies — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — almost too spicy! — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #IceCream #NomNom #dessert #chili #spicy #thai #peanut #coconut #lime #SavorySweet #Serrano
9/15/19 two more gelati:
Cherry Cioccolato Fondente Gelato — working to squeeze the most chocolate humanly possible into a dairy gelato. This is 70% cocoa Valrhona and 100% Callebaut Chocolate base is my best yet — only 17% milk it has an INTENSE chocolate taste, plus house-made White Chocolate Amareno Cherry Ganache rounds it out — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #nomnom #dessertlovers #dessertporn #icecreamlovers #gelatoitaliano #foodporn #gelatolover #food #foodgasm #foodblogger #dessertgasm #desserttime #foodphotography #gelatoartigianale #gelatomania #dessertlover #icecream #icecreamlovers #chocolate #valrhona #Callebaut #cherry #amareno
Matcha Almond Latte Gelato – Ceremonial Matcha Green Tea and Sicilian Noto Romano Almond gelato base — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato –#dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #nomnom #dessertlovers #dessertporn #icecreamlovers #gelatoitaliano #foodporn #gelatolover #food #foodgasm #foodblogger #dessertgasm #desserttime #foodphotography #gelatoartigianale #gelatomania #dessertlover #icecream #icecreamlovers #almond #matcha #GreenTea #Sicily
Overall, a great time and really solid meal. Orignally, I thought Top Island isn’t in the league with Elite or such for high end Cantonese, but this whole feast was $35 a person with tax and tip! So considering with had Peking Duck, Lobster etc and it was all very tasty this was a steal. All the dishes were enjoyable and they have a huge menu. Plus, as Yarom says, “they treated us like Pharaohs.” I.e. we had great service as they were very warm and brought out all the dishes “slowly” (by Chinese standards). Too bad they don’t have this sort of quality on the Westside!
I also must chime in that in light of our 3/10/19 dinner I have to upgrade Top Island to one of the best SGV Cantonese places. The service is really great. They brought us our dishes in a carefully selected (wine friendly) order, one at a time. The prices on sometimes expensive things like lobster and king crab are really fabulous, and overall dish quality is extremely high. Almost every dish was excellent that night (and on a previous trip a couple weeks before I missed). Great place!
For the 9/15/19 and 12/22/19 dinner I continue my thinking that Top Island has a really top notch Cantonese kitchen. Food is really really good. Service is great too, although the place is a bit of a zoo given how big and popular it is. Our 12/22/19 was a hilarious CF of a dinner though — not in any way the restaurant’s fault. We had a table they said seated 12-14, which really seated about 10-12 (and 12 was pushing it) and then ended up with 15 people (because it’s hard to manage the numbers at these things). We were so packed in at this table, sitting an extra foot away so the chairs made it around. But most problematically, with 15 people the dishes only got around to about 12ish — and so it turned into a “lord of the flies” style frenzy. Total chaos — if a touch amusing.
And a bunch of wines from the second night:
Restaurant: Starry Kitchen
Location: 943 N Broadway, Los Angeles, Ca, 90012. 213-814-1123
Date: July 31, 2014
Rating: Great fun
Tonight the Hedonists take over Starry Kitchen, a strange sort of vaguely Singaporean / Pan Asian pop up that has gained notoriety in recent years. This was one of these zoo style events with 25 people, a giant table, and around 30+ wines! I don’t think I even photographed them all as it was too chaotic. I have tried to organize them into coherent flights below, but it was anything but at the actual event. Just a free for all. However, there was so much wine that it wasn’t a problem getting any particular bottle. Most took a while to run out. Plus this sort of cuisine goes best (really only) with whites, particularly slightly sweet ones (like Riesling). But this never stops the fans of giant reds — they drink them regardless. Cava. 2002 Delamotte Champagne Blanc de Blancs Millésimé. Burghound 91. A relatively high-toned nose of green apple, baker’s yeast, floral and citrus peel hints precedes the distinctly effervescent, even slightly foamy flavors that possess good depth on the bone dry finish. This is clearly still on its way up as the focused finish is still compact and while this is certainly refreshing and there is enough depth present to make for an interesting drink, it will be better in due course. In sum, there is good development potential and will especially please those who prefer very dry vintage Champagne. 1998 Pierre Péters Champagne Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut Millésimé. IWC 91. Light gold color. Intensely smoky on the nose, with rich nutty and floral aromas of molasses cookie and gingerbread along with a wild fresh herb quality and a whiff of blood orange. The spicy character repeats on the palate, which shows ripe citrus, mineral and apple flavors. Finishes complex and long, with excellent concentration and impressive focus. Tofu balls with puffed rice and sriracha aioli. Interesting outer crunch with inner softness. I’ve no idea what the green is about. 2011 Arkenstone Sauvignon Blanc. 93 points web. 1998 E. Guigal Condrieu La Doriane. IWC 92. Spicy aromas of peach syrup, citrus skin and menthol. Rich, sweet and lush, with superb depth of flavor and extract. Seems both livelier and more structured than the normale, not to mention longer on the back end. Lots of gras here. agavin: grapefruit peel! 2006 Dönnhoff Oberhäuser Brücke Riesling Spätlese. 96 points. Peach and pineapple with grapefruit and slate. Plenty of ripeness as opposite to outright sweetness on the palate and it retains a feeling of being light on its feet. There is also a sweet and sour element going on which I liked. At a stage in between youth and having development but still enjoyable now. 2003 Joh. Jos. Prüm Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Spätlese. 92 points. There was definitely spritz present, and lots of it. The nose was not giving much. My husband smelled petroleum right away. I thought the nose was strange, but agreed with him that it was petroleum. Then, very slight aromas of honey, peaches, baked dough, and floral came through underneath. On the palate, the wine was rather sweet with taste of honey & fruits. Rather one dimensional, lacks in complexity. Medium finish. This wine is made to pair with food IMHO. I find it more pleasurable to drink this wine with food than without because of the sweetness, and it especially pairs great with spicy dishes. 2002 Joh. Jos. Christoffel Erben Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Auslese. IWC 90. Smoke and brown spice notes on the nose, mingled with strawberry jam. Delicate and airy in the mouth, yet superbly rich in spice and inner-mouth florality. Salty, spicy and not particularly sweet in its long, wafting finish. 1996 Zind-Humbrecht Pinot Gris Rangen de Thann Clos St. Urbain. 91 points. Golden color. Exotic fruit aromas. Velvety texture. Fullbodied and big. Some residual sugar. A lovely, balanced and well drinking wine. Shrimp and pork chili oil wonton. Shredded potatoes. Spicy, and clearly a variant of the schezuan “numb taste wonton.” Not nearly as hot though. 2010 Domaine William Fèvre Chablis 1er Cru Montée de Tonnerre. Burghound 93. A wonderfully elegant and highly expressive nose consists of white flower, oyster shell and iodine aromas that are very much in keeping with the powerful yet refined broad-scaled flavors that possess both excellent volume and concentration, all wrapped in an explosive and gorgeously long finish. The combination of punch and civility is most beguiling. 2002 Louis Jadot Corton-Charlemagne Domaine des Héritiers Louis Jadot. Burghound 93. It’s interesting but this is much more feminine and rounder in style than the Le Charlemagne with its distinctly masculine character. This is not as powerful but it’s more elegant with precise, delineated and pure flavors that also enjoy ample amounts of dry extract and awe-inspiring length. agavin: A little premoxed, but drinking nicely. 2012 Gilbert Picq Chablis 1er Cru Vosgros. Burghound 90-92. A beautifully well-layered nose features notes of mineral reduction, green fruit and ocean breeze nuances. There is impressive scale to the concentrated and powerful medium weight flavors that are both intense saline and mineral-inflected on the mouth coating and lingering finish. As is usually the case this is less refined than the Vaucoupin but there’s better underlying material. agavin: drinking really flat right now 2009 Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Clavoillon. Burghound 91. This is notably riper than the Blagny and the nose plays right on the edge of a certain exoticism as the mostly yellow orchard fruit aromas hint at the presence of mango and papaya. The very rich, round and mouth coating flavors exude plenty of dry extract that buffers the moderately firm acid spine on the lightly mineral-driven and persistent finish. Overall this is really quite pretty and about the only nit is the presence of the barest hint of finishing bitterness that my score assumes will dissipate with a few years of bottle age. agavin: drinking great. Some reduction (which I like). Chinese mustard greens with pancetta. As good as greens get — because bacon makes everything better. 2000 Les Cailloux (Lucien et André Brunel) Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Centenaire. Parker 96. The heady 2000 Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Centenaire is more evolved than either the 2001 or 1998. Extremely full-bodied, with low acidity, and a knock-out bouquet of blackberry and cherry jam intermixed with licorice, pepper, and dried Provencal herbs, this sexy, voluptuous, enormously concentrated 2000 possesses a huge, silky, seamless finish. Drink this irresistible effort now and over the next 12-15 years. 2008 François Villard St. Joseph Reflet. 90 points. Fantastic nose. Big pepper with lots of violets and herbs. Lovely balanced even palate. Perfect finishing tannin. Lengthy. Just a terrific wine all around. Pork belly fried rice. Really, how could you go wrong with this? From my cellar: 1993 Domaine Robert Arnoux / Arnoux-Lachaux Echezeaux. Burghound 91. Black spicy fruit trimmed by a deft touch of oak leads to substantially scaled, rich, intense flavors of impressive depth and the elegant breed of a fine Echézeaux is obvious, especially on the exceptionally long finish. I very much like this as it’s both beautifully balanced and offers solid concentration and cellar potential. agavin: tasted much better than the nose. Maybe a tiny bit of brett, but drinking well. 2002 Kistler Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast. 89 points. Drinking decently. Muted cherry and strawberry, slight bricking. 2011 La Bastide Blanche Bandol. 85 points. Dark red color. Tobacco, dirt, black cherry, meat on nose. On palate, full body but nice acidity provides balance. Cherry, sour cherry, garrigue on palate. Medium+ finish. Malaysian chicken curry. A very nice medium hot curry. Chicken fell right off the bone. And it went great on top of the fried rice. 2007 Domaine Grand Veneur Chateauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes. Parker 98+. The newest special cuvee (introduced in 2006) is the 2007 Chateauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes (50% Grenache, 40% Mourvedre, and 10% Syrah). Made from 50- to 100+-year-old vines and aged 18 months in small oak barrels, it is potentially one of the longest lived wines of the vintage. This exquisite, dense purple-colored effort reveals intense but restrained notes of cassis, kirsch, lavender, licorice, and graphite. A wine of great intensity as well as remarkable finesse and elegance, is a full-bodied Chateauneuf that will require plenty of patience. Give it 3-4 years of bottle age, and drink it over the following 25-30. 2009 Bibi Graetz Testamatta. Parker 90. The 2009 Testamatta possesses remarkable depth and power along with tons of textural elegance. There is plenty of Sangiovese character in the dusty red cherries, flowers, licorice and tobacco. The wine’s color and forward bouquet suggest it is on a relatively fast path of evolution. Saffron fish wraps. In there is a interesting mixture of pickles, saffron coated fish, onions, and white rice noodles. Here is the wrap stuff. And the final product. 2010 Fontodi Flaccianello della Pieve Vino da Tavola. Parker 97+. Now to a superstar of Italian enology: The 2010 Flaccianello della Pieve will take your breath away. This is a seriously beautiful Sangiovese-based wine with the kind of intensity and aromatic purity you only experience every 1,000 wines or so. There’s a lot to say here. First, the wine’s beautiful appearance shows dark garnet colors with highlights of ruby and purple gemstone. The bouquet delivers a steady and seductive evolution with dark cherry, chocolate, spice, tobacco and sweet almond all seamlessly balanced one against the other. Its texture and inner fabric is rich, velvety and firm. There’s a brilliant spot of acidity that hits you at the back of the mouth and helps the wine from feeling too heavy or dense. In fact, outstanding elegance is what ultimately sets it apart. The temptation to drink it now is huge, but those still young tannins definitely need a few more years to unwind. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2035. Rice, egg, ground hamburger. Mixed up, it actually has a burger like vibe because of the meat and the pickles. But very tasty. 2006 Gemstone Proprietary Red Wine. Parker 93. The superb 2006 Gemstone Proprietary Red (an 890-case blend of 98% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Petit Verdot) is from the cooler Oakville / Yountville sector of Napa. It exhibits a dense ruby/purple color as well as a beautiful bouquet of subtle new oak interwoven with black currants, smoke, licorice, and a hint of spring flowers. The wine is full-bodied, with excellent density, admirable balance, and fine purity, a hallmark of this estate. It should drink nicely for two decades. Pork belly clay pot. 2002 Pax Syrah Lauterbach Hill. IWC 92. Saturated ruby. Cooler, high-pitched aromas of black raspberry, blackberry, cassis and mint. Juicy and lively; less lush than the Vine Hill bottling as the wine is more dominated by its firm tannic spine (this was vinified with a high percentage of whole clusters.) Densely packed but tightly wound, with lively notes of licorice and minerals. Whereas most of the Pax 2002s offer considerable immediate appeal, this wine really needs two or three years of cellaring. Garlic noodles. And we really do mean GARLIC. There could not have been more garlic flavor. 2008 Cayuse Grenache God Only Knows Armada Vineyard. Parker 94. Baron’s 2008 Grenache Armada Vineyard God Only Knows displays delectable scents and luscious palate presence of lightly-cooked strawberry and plum laced with nut oils and shadowed by plum and herb distillates. Seamlessly polished, almost velvety and glycerol-rich as well as sweetly ripe, this, nonetheless, projects a torrent of primary fruit juiciness along with levity and energy. Saliva-inducing salinity along with piquant fruit pit, and iodine accents add riveting counterpoint to a finish of prodigious length that manages to simultaneously sooth and stimulate. I would expect this to reward attention for at least another decade. 1993 Opus One Proprietary Red Wine. parker 93. Deep garnet-brick colour. Fragrant aromas of dried cranberries, prunes, cinnamon and cumin giving way to subtler earthy notes of leather and tar. A lot of discernable fruit remains on the palate framed by crisp acidity and a medium level of grainy tannins. Very long, layered finish. Drink now to 2018. Tasted April 2009. And the main event: Chili crab. The crab is drowned in the chili sauce, which has much of the meat. Those balls are fried bread puffs. They each weigh about 1/3 of a pound (not kidding). Heavy stuff but perfect for dipping. I haven’t had Chili Crab too many times, but this was very close to what I had in Singapore. The crab itself was much smaller here (there we had these huge Sri Lankan crabs). Also amazing on the fried rice (not the most attractive, but tastes great). 2009 Rieussec. Parker 97. The team at Chateau Rieussec have conjured a stellar wine in 2009. There is a little reduction at first that fortunately blows away, revealing thickly layered scents of honey, Danish pastry and quince that appear to gain vigor with every passing sip. The palate is stunning: very viscous in the mouth with tangy grapefruit, honey and white peach. It is still primal, but the acidity is perfectly judged and there is a life-affirming sense of precision and tension towards the finish. Exceptional. Drink now-2045. Churros. A bit oily, and again, mysteriously green. Another awesome evening. Good food, if a little eclectic, and a zoo of enjoyable (if not entirely food friendly) wines. But just great company and hence a whole lot of fun.
Location: 108 Jackson Creek Rd Grasonville, MD 21638. (410) 827-8711
Date: May 23, 2014
Rating: Solid modern Gastro-comfort
My family has been stopping at Holly’s (a greasy spoon a few minutes east of the Bay Bridge) for almost 40 years.
The menu is pretty classic too.
But it does have Eastern Shore specialities like Crab and Vegetable soup. This Eastern Shore variant on Manhattan Clam Chowder (blue crab instead of clams) is delicious, sweeter, and altogether amazing.
It’s nice that some things, especially simple good things, don’t change. As much as I’m a food modernist, I can also really appreciate well cooked classics, sort of the culinary version of folk music.
Oh, and they have crazy good pies too, including the famous apple “dumpling.” Plus, the prices are crazy cheap. Adding a fried chicken breast to anything costs $2.59!
Location: 203 West Valley Blvd, Alhambra, CA. (626) 872-6677
Date: January 20, 2014
Cuisine: Cantonese / Chiu Chow Chinese
Rating: Really on point!
New Bay Seafood is a fairly elaborate (big with multiple private rooms) Hong Kong and Chiu Chow palace that took over the late Sham Tseng space in 2013.
2006 Schafer-Frohlich Schlossbockelheimer Felsenberg Riesling Spatlese. Parker 92. The Frohlichs- 2006 Schlossbockelheimer Felsenberg Riesling Spatlese came from significantly botrytized grapes and was yeasted to assure a reliable fermentation. Licorice, honey, black currant, and pineapple dominate the nose and palate, where an almost buttery texture and high residual sugar do not prevent juiciness and vivacity, thanks in part to the acidity having gone ever higher here than in the Felseneck. Irresistibly luscious, subtly honeyed and saline, smoky, and tingling mineral in its finish, this, too, should be a long (15+ year) keeper, although Frohlich is convinced that the Felsenberg will have an edge in complexity thanks to the effect of spontaneous fermentation.
We called this the cheese lobster, because there is actually a bit of cheese mixed in with all that fry. And, yeah, it’s pretty darned fried, but it was really tasty. The lobster itself was succulent and not over done and it was easy to access big chunks of it.
2003 Louis Latour Bâtard-Montrachet. Burghound 92. This too is quite aromatically expressive and while this is no model of finesse either, both the aromatic and flavor profiles possess stunning complexity and in contrast to most big, sappy and muscular white, this manages to retain an unusually fine sense of balance and delivers a palate staining finish. It’s dramatic but there’s substance behind the size and weight.
Our bottle was a little closed and tired, although it opened as the evening progressed.
From my cellar: 1995 Louis Jadot Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos St. Jacques. 94 points. Smells of creamy blue and black fruit, and earth. It’s powerful on the palate, the fruit tastes young, and deep. There are layers to the palate that reveal bramble, minerals, and a seemingly weightless power. Finishes with a tarry, meaty, wild side. Excellent wine that is beginning to show.
Chinese chicken salad. Haha. I have no idea how authentic this is, but the flavor profile was actually more Vietnamese (which really isn’t that far from Chiu Chow). There was a sweet/savory thing, a little bit of zing, and cilantro.
2006 Marcassin Pinot Noir Three Sisters Vineyard. Parker 94+. The 2006 Pinot Noirs that are just being released include the 2006 Pinot Noir Three Sisters Vineyard. While it has closed down since I tasted it last year, it does reveal a dark plum/ruby color as well as a smoky bouquet of Asian plum sauce, soy, forest floor and sweet black cherries. Like many Marcassin Pinots, it possesses a Morey St.-Denis-like character. The Three Sisters cuvee will benefit from another 1-2 years of bottle age and drink well for a decade or more.
In my opinion, this was a nice new world pinot, but as usual, too oaked and young. I’m certainly not drinking 1re cru Burgundy (which would be the analog here) from ’06, more like the late 90s.
Chiu Chow crab. Super tasty again, and sleeping on a bed of giant garlic cloves. The owner warned us that this baby might gift us with a bit of a surprise in the middle of the night — in the form of excess gas! LOL.
2001 Noon Shiraz Reserve. Parker 99. The 2001 Shiraz Reserve is a riveting example of what is so exciting about old vine Shiraz. Produced from a 35-40-year old McLaren Vale vineyard, it possesses amazing aromatics, purity, texture, and richness. This 2001, which tips the scales at a lofty 15.8% alcohol, is intense and full-bodied as well as remarkably elegant for a wine of such mass and intensity. Its impenetrable inky/black/purple color is accompanied by explosive aromatics, and is bursting with deep, rich, well-balanced flavors revealing seamlessly integrated wood, alcohol, acidity, and tannin. Profoundly deep, rich, and intense, it will hit its peak in 3-4 years, and should last for 15+. This is truly compelling old vine Shiraz!
Overall, New Bay Seafood was really good. Being Southern Chinese, it’s not the most exotic of the Chinese sub-regions (foodwise, since so much American Chinese is Cantonese derived) but their execution is really very very good. Every dish was tasty and more than half of them fabulous. If you want an approachable entree into the wonderful world of San Gabriel Valley Chinese, you can’t go wrong with New Bay. And, besides, the owner treated us like kings. They served the dishes one by one, hung out, and we’re generally fabulous.
Afterward, we walked next door to the awesome Sabu Dessert and get some light fluffy “snow.” If you haven’t tried Taiwanese style snow, you are really missing out. This one above was coconut snow, passionfruit sauce, with egg pudding, almond jelly, and blackberries. Yum!
Restaurant: Newport Seafood
Location: 518 W Las Tunas Dr, San Gabriel, CA 91776-1073. (626) 289-5998
Date: December 19, 2013 and January 24 & September 11, 2016 and May 22, 2022 (and many other times between)
Cuisine: Cambodian Chinese
Rating: I used to like it, but now I’m jaded and think it’s perhaps the most overrated place in the SGV
Many people consider Newport Seafood one of the best Chinese restaurants in SoCal. Essentially, it’s Southern Chinese, with some Cambodian and Vietnamese influences (the owners are Cambodian). I’ve been a couple of times, but this post is a composite of a December ’13 and a January ’16 meal (click those links for the specific by night pictures and wines) and another September ’16 meal. The wines below are all from the ’13 meal as the latter time there wasn’t anything particularly exciting except for a pile of leftovers I brought from an epic dinner the night before. People somehow think that giant New World Syrah goes with Chinese food — not! Except for a dish or two, total wine pairing fail. This cuisine would be best served by Burgs (both colors), dry Riesling, Gruner, and the like.
No Newport visit is complete without shots of the ladies with the giant crustaceans.
Boiled peanuts. Helpful in avoiding peanut allergies.
Chinese savory cruller. I’ve always liked these puffy donut-like (without the sugar) breads.
Vietnamese shrimp salad. Those strong vinegar/sugar flavors and the peanuts are very Vietnamese. The standard lettuce, a little less so. Really, a lousy salad — pretty much ruined by the generic lettuce.
Green chicken. This was pretty good for straight up boiled/steamed whole chicken. Unusual chili paste too, which I now recognize as fairly typical Cambodian.
2006 Sine Qua Non Autrement Dit. 90 points. Very nice blueberry/strawberry nose. not hot on the nose. really nice full palate and mouthfeel with a nice mix of red and blue fruits, and integrated earthiness. did not noticably detect any heat or wood on this. certainly a bigger and different type of rose, but this bottle was nicely restrained and seemed in good balance tonight.
Newport Special Crab. Our entire giant crab was steamed in a mild and pleasant sauce the emphasized the sweet and delicate flavor of the VERY fresh crab. In fact, he was alive and kicking in Tricia’s hands about 15 minutes prior. This was perfectly cooked and moist.
2005 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage Blanc. Parker 96. The 2005 Hermitage blanc is an amazing effort that defines the classic style of white Hermitage. It offers hints of marzipan, roasted hazelnuts, quince, licorice, honeysuckle, citrus oil, and wet stones. It is a superbly concentrated and powerful wine. It should drink well for 30+ years.
Crab and asparagus soup. Very mild and pleasant. Not that much crab but a lot of white asparagus.
2000 Aubert Chardonnay Ritchie Vineyard. Parker 91. The 2000 Chardonnay Ritchie Vineyard is a rich, full-bodied, textured, powerful, smoky effort that tastes like a Meursault premier cru on steroids. It possesses ample layers, excellent underlying acidity for balance, and plenty of leesy, hazelnut, and tropical fruit notes.
Newport Special Lobster. In a delicious green onion, garlic, and slightly spicy sauce. The sauce was amazing. The lobster was perhaps a tiny bit overcooked, but was great. It’s mostly about the sauce.
Giant steamed prawns. These were too much plain crustacean for my taste. Lots of work to pry out the meat, and it was just steamed shrimp. I think of them as giant steamed sea bugs.
Salt and pepper crab. Interesting. Like a fossilized salty crab. The meat itself was tasty, but I preferred the sauced version below.
Curry crab. Crab drowned in a super yummy Singapore curry sauce. Awesome!
2011 Wagner-Stempel Riesling Trocken. Parker 89. Fresh apple and lime garlanded with narcissus, apple blossom and basil characterize the aromatic and palate performance of Wagner-Stempel’s 2011 Riesling trocken, whose combination of caressingly silken texture with bright, infectiously juicy citricity displays the family resemblance to its Scheurebe counterpart. At 12.5% alcohol, this manages to convey a sense of buoyancy through its delightful, apple pip- and herb-tinged finish. Look for it to prove deliciously versatile over the next 2-3 years. There is now, incidentally, just a single large bottling of generic Riesling at this address and it is 100% estate-bottled.
2007 Hermann Donnhoff Riesling Spatlese Niederhauser Hermannshohle. Parker 96. Gardenia, peony, and resinous herbs in the nose of Donnhoff’s 2007 Niederhauser Hermannshohle Riesling Spatlese give way to a palpably extract-rich palate of vibratory intensity, suffused with stony, saline, and tactile suggestions of mineral matter, yet at the same time rich orchard fruits. If the Krotenpfuhl was painted with water colors, the medium here is definitely oil, exhibiting both dynamic and intricate brush work as well as dense layering. This masterpiece – picked simultaneously with the corresponding Grosses Gewachs – was only beginning to show its depth in the spring and needed almost six months in bottle to really shine forth. Take as long as fate permits you to savor this; I can’t imagine it disappointing a quarter century or more from now.
1984 Gros Frère et Sœur Clos Vougeot Musigni. 95 points. This is a great wine (good location in the vineyard and top winemakers) from a very off year — and it’s 29 year-old pinot noir. But somehow (and I’ve had 3 bottles) it’s still in great shape. Really quite lovely with a complex tar and cherry thing going on. I happen to find it fabulous.
Sweet and sour fish filets. I liked these better than the dry salt and pepper version. Soft, fried, and vaguely sweet.
2008 DuMOL Pinot Noir Aidan. Parker 93. The 2008 Pinot Noirs are led by The 2008 Pinot Noir Aidan, which is made from the modern Dijon clones of 115 and 777. Yields in 2008 were a minuscule 1.75 tons of fruit per acre, hence production is down considerably. Aromas of forest floor, plum sauce, black currants, blueberries and a complex rose petal-like character emerge from this dark ruby-colored 2008. With medium to full body and good acidity, this beauty can be drunk over the next 10-12 years.
Vietnamese Beef Stew. Yummy stuff. Very soft fatty meat, tons of flavor, and odd asian textures. Great over rice. Very interesting slightly curry and fish sauce flavor. Meat had a lot of tendon. I liked it a lot as it was intresting.
Another mysterious green, or maybe just different looking peasprouts.
Green beans with pork. Classic dish. These were slippery fellows and hard to scoop up. Delicious with nice crunchy beans but oh so salty (lots of MSG).
1997 Turley Wine Cellars Petite Syrah Hayne Vineyard. Parker 96-98. I do not believe I have ever tasted a more concentrated, essence-like wine than Turley’s 1997 Petite Syrah Hayne Vineyard. Made from 55-year old vines that yielded only 9.8 tons of fruit for five acres, this opaque black-colored wine is the biggest, richest, most concentrated, tannic wine I have ever tasted. It will need at least a decade to shed some of its ferocious tannin, and will undoubtedly last for 40-50 years. Even more remarkable is its purity and overall equilibrium. Despite its Godzilla-like size, this is an astonishingly concentrated, gorgeously made wine. I have never, ever, seen a wine like this!
Kung Pao Pork Chop. It wasn’t very spicy, and it was seriously double fried, but it was darn tasty.
Sweet and sour pork chop. Tasty, but certainly not tender!
Fried Pork Chop with Salt and Pepper. Very salty and fried, but delicious.
Crispy duck. Sixth months later, we get the duck. This was a fairly contentious dish, some thought it dry. I kinda liked it once you soaked a meaty piece in the sauce.
2002 Sean Thackrey Orion Syrah. Parker 96-100. A riveting example of Syrah is the 2002 Orion. It boasts a black/purple color with more mint and blackberry notes intermixed with exotic floral characteristics. With great intensity, full body, multiple dimensions, and superb purity as well as length, this blockbuster is incredibly well-balanced/harmonious. It should drink reasonably well young, yet keep for 12-15 years.
Parker sure (over) loves these new world syrahs.
Vegetable fried rice. Not as exciting as the meat version, but certainly good.
We brought in these cakes for a birthday.
Mascarpone with Strawberry and Oat Milk Matcha Almond.
Overall, honestly it’s tough to review Newport Seafood. When I first came here in 2013, I was only a year or so into my frequent SGV journeys and I loved it — more or less in the way that I have always loved all Chinese food. Hell, I even used to like PF Changs and Panda Express. But now, several hundred real Chinese meals later, I feel that Newport is just oddly overrated. It’s like the expensive gateway drug to the SGV. Sure it’s enjoyable. They have good dishes. Even some great dishes (nothing wrong with the lobster at all other than the price). But little is interesting, it’s way overpriced, and they lean very heavily on the “flavor” (MSG). I’m not a monster fan of this Chinese Cambodian hybrid style either. It’s 90% Chinese, but fairly close to Chaozhou style. Still, I like either Tai Sui (Cambodian) or Seafood Palace (Chaozhou) MUCH better. And I also like straight Cantonese a lot more (of which there are many better examples) and particularly Sichuan or any kind of regional Chinese.
So no, I’m just not really impressed with Newport at this point.
Or check out Newport’s Beverly Hills location.
Some more wines from September 11, 2016:
Location: 4001 W Olympic Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90019. (323) 936-9106
Date: November 13, 2013
Rating: The crab is amazing
A new wine and food friend of mine who happens to be Korean wanted to introduce me to Soban and the wonderful world of Korean raw crab. This popular k-town joint looks much like many others.
2011 Inama Soave Classico Vigneti di Foscarino. Parker 92. Creamy and rich, this is so beautifully expressive and profound. There’s nothing obvious about this remarkable wine. Its aromatic evolution spans from crushed mineral and pencil shaving to lemon curd, vanilla custard and sun-kissed apricot. This is a Soave Classico dressed in its Sunday best. It sees six months of oak, of which 20% is new. Those two-fold veins of acidity and minerality will help it age.
We had to sneak these in tea cups, as alcohol isn’t allowed at Soban.
This is the crab. It’s a Korean species specially flown in, then marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, mirin, sugar, garlic and ginger for several days. Soban is apparently the only LA place that uses real Korean crab.
The meat is clear and gelatinous, and you suck it right not, almost like squeezing toothpaste from a tube. It has a wonderful subtle briny flavor with more than a hint of ginger. Really quite nice, if a little slimly by the average American textural sensibility.
Then, one can mix some rice in with the row and “crab brain” (guts). This is a wonderful treat. My host actually gave the idea to Yama-san at Yamakase (you can see it here). I happen to love crab guts. Not everyone does, but they have a delightful briny savory quality that blends perfectly with the starchy rice.
Overall, this was a great little meal, with the crab (and the crab guts on rice) being the real highlight. That’s a very unusual dish and well worth trying if you have the guts! (haha)
Restaurant: Seafood Village
Location: 684 W Garvey Ave. Monterey Park, CA 91754. (626) 289-0088
Date: September 15, 2013
Cuisine: Chiu Chow Chinese
Rating: quite tasty!
Chinese food is incredible regional, and we are blessed in SoCal with a lot of very specific resteraunts (mostly in the San Gabriel Valley). This time, my Hedonist group has head out for some Chiu Chow (also Chaozhou) which is a Southern Chinese style originating in Eastern Guangdong province. This is a fairly ingredient driven Chinese regional cuisine that often features seafood. It has a relationship to Cantonese and is often found in Singaporean cooking (as many Teochew people settled there).
Seafood Village is regarded as one of the best Chiu Chow places in California. It has the usual glamorous SGV exterior.
And it’s worth noting this interesting feature of authentic Chinese restaurants. After you eat a lot of some dish, they will “replate” or “consolidate” it into a smaller dish to preserve premium table space.
This is what most people come here for, the house special Chiu Chow Style Crab (Dungeness). This is basically battered crab, fried with chilies and lots of garlic. I’ve also heard this called “Causeway Style.” Good stuff with lots of flavor. You end up sucking out the meat mostly.
From my cellar, 1970 Gros Frère et Sœur Vosne-Romanée. 92 points. It was still very much alive and drinking quite beautifully. A veritable chameleon in the glass, the aromas kept changing every time I brought the glass to my nose. First sour cherries, then papaya, then raspberries, then red clay, then lemon rind, then caramel — it was intoxicating. The palate, on the other hand, was a bit simple and one-dimensional, but I thought the nose more than made up for it. A lovely wine! My favorite of the night — being a Burghound!
2000 Araujo Estate Syrah Eisele Vineyard. IWC 89. Full ruby-red. Rich, smoky aromas of plum, blackberry, bitter chocolate, smoked meat, minerals, tobacco and licorice. Sweet, lush, chocolatey and seamless; a distinctly warm-climate syrah with exotic notes of roasted berries. But there’s also lovely lift from the blackberry and violet notes. Finishes firmly tannic, oaky and long, with notes of spice and bitter chocolate.
Chilies with ground pork. I’ve never seen Jalepenos per se in China, but they do have lots of peppers. Regardless, this was a fabulous dish as the pork was cooked in a great black bean sauce and the combination of the mild heat and the slightly sweet meat was wonderful.
2009 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave St. Joseph. IWC 93. Opaque ruby. Expansive, seductive aromas of blackberry and blueberry preserves, cherry pit and fresh flowers, plus a sexy incense note and a touch of licorice. Stains the palate with dark berry and spicecake flavors, with smoky minerality adding cut to the back end. Blends depth and vivacity smoothly, finishing with outstanding clarity and lingering sweetness.
2009 Orma Toscana IGT. IWC 92. Fully saturated ruby-purple. Sexy aromas of ripe dark plum, Asian spices, licorice and cocoa powder, with a floral quality adding lift and freshness. At once suave and penetrating, with very good energy and definition to the flavors of sweet red cherry, dark plum, mocha and fresh herbs. In a distinctly ripe style, but with a vibrant, long finish thanks to harmonious acidity. The sweet, broad tannins show a distinct chocolatey ripeness.
Duck with mushrooms. It’s hard to tell them apart (the duck has bones) as the heavy gravy gives it all a brown sheen. This dish might look a bit sketchy, but it tastes great with a rich heady earthiness to the sauce and a pleasant spongey texture to the woody mushrooms.
2007 Lillian Winery Syrah. IWC 94. Opaque purple. A kaleidoscopic bouquet evokes black raspberry, cola, incense and olive tapenade, with a sexy floral quality that gains power with aeration. Lush, palate-staining dark berry preserve flavors are complemented by exotic spice and violet pastille qualities and are lifted by zesty minerality. Gains weight with air but retains its energy, finishing spicy, smoky and with outstanding persistence. Readers should also seek out Maggie Harrison’s excellent Antica Terra pinot noirs from Oregon.
This might not seem like the most sophisticated dish, but the sauce was really really good with the tender noodles. I used to get a similar dish as a kid and found not not only delicious, but deeply nostalgic.
Taro with Ginko dessert. God only knows what the white stuff was. There were grapes and ginko nuts, blobs of taro, and a gelatinous mass that that was supposedly snow fungus. The net effect was sweet and vaguely chewy. I think it’s a Chiu Chow speciality.
Overall, an incredibly fun evening as usual. We even went next door afterward to overwhelm the minimall’s $15 an hour foot massage place, which is always great except that Yarom got screwed since we had one person more than they had masseuses. These Chinese outings are great fun with really interesting, tasty, and reasonable food.
The Seafood Village staff treated us great, bringing the dishes one at a time, and being extremely friendly and helpful — if occasionally confounded by our lack of Mandarin (or perhaps they spoke the Chiu Chow dialect, I wouldn’t know). Great fun.
We were also joined (see below) by Chef Kaz Oyama of the amazing Totoraku, who is now an honorary Hedonist, and he took it seriously by consuming his fair share of libations.
Restaurant: Shin Beijing
Location: 3101 W Olympic Blvd – Los Angeles, CA 90006. 213-381-3003
Date: April 1, 2013
Rating: very solid electric Chinese
Hedonist regular, Penny, wanted to go out for her birthday, so 15-18 of us descended on Korea Town Chinese restaurant Shin Beijing. As far as I can tell, except for the Kimchi, Korean Chinese is pretty much Chinese (food wise).
From my cellar, Parker 90, “With respect to Saint-Cosme’s white wine offerings, readers should check out the 2007 Cotes du Rhone blanc, a blend of Roussanne, Marsanne, Picpoul, and Viognier. Flamboyant scents of melon, tropical fruit, and honeysuckle jump from the glass of this beauty. It offers amazing richness, a dry, medium-bodied mouthfeel, superb freshness, and far more quality and complexity than one would expect from a white Cotes du Rhone. Luckily, there are over 1,000 cases of this cuvee.”
Parker 91, “The Monchof 2007 Erdener Treppchen Riesling Spatlese Mosel Slate is scented with fresh tangerine, heliotrope, wisteria, and mint. Lush and brimming with ripe pineapple, musk melon, and tangerine, it spreads a creamy fruit concentrate over the palate yet remains infectiously refreshing in its long, sappy finish. Once again, this high-volume Eymael calling card represents an exceptional value and should go right on pleasing for a decade or more, provided anyone both thinks to cellar it and can resist temptation in the interim.”
2008 Domaine Macle Cotes du Jura. This old fashioned wine is made in a manner a little like Sherry where a layer of bacteria is used to prevent oxidation. It was very dry and hot with sherry fino like notes.
Crab w/ ginger and onion sauce. This sauce was delicious. Some wonderful crabs. Almost as good as the ones I had in Singapore.
2010 Domaine Gauby Côtes du Roussillon Villages Les Calcinaires. A little funky, with a distinct barnyard taste that someone described as “dirty piggy.” I liked it quite a bit though, as did many others.
Parker 95, “Peter Michael’s Bordeaux program is built around their flagship Cabernet Sauvignon-based wine, Les Pavots. The 2008 Les Pavots, a blend of 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Cabernet Franc and 11% Merlot, offers up notes of roasted coffee, cocoa, chocolate fudge, black currants, licorice and a hint of truffles. This full-bodied, beautifully rich red boasts an opulent texture, impressive purity and a long finish. Impressively made with impeccable attention to detail (it is sorted berry by berry rather than grape bunch by grape bunch), this 3,500-case cuvee should drink well for two decades or more.”
2002 Domaine Weinbach Tokay Pinot Gris Altenbourg Cuvée Laurence. Parker 95, “Among the few slightly older wines from Weinbach that I tasted recently, the 2002 Pinot Gris Altenbourg Selection de Grains Nobles was especially notable. Black tea, citrus zest, musk, white truffle and honey aromas lead intoxicatingly to a plate the combine delicacy with density and richness, Like mandarins marinated in honey, tea, and grapefruit juice on the palate, on which 166 grams of residual sugar are tossed off and practically forgotten. This finishes with unquenchable refreshment rare for an S.G.N., and the sort of complexity and clarity that accrue to the best wines of this under-rated vintage.”
Overall, this was a great evening. Shin Beijing turned out to be a great find with a nice ambiance (as far as Chinese restaurants go) and terrific food. They really treated us well too. It’s not so easy to handle a boisterous group of this size and they managed perfectly. The price was very reasonable too, $60 a person all inclusive of tip and tax, considering the number of dishes and the fact that we had several lobsters, several crabs, and two peking ducks.
Restaurant: The Boiling Crab
Location: 3377 Wilshire Blvd. Ste 115, Los Angeles, CA 90010
Date: November 15, 2012
Cuisine: Cajun Seafood
Rating: Negative frills, but really tasty
Good food doesn’t always have to be fancy. My most recent Hedonist adventure was to The Boiling Crab, the Korea-Town outpost of a cajun seafood joint.
Hedonists events require that everyone bring a bottle of wine. I brought three! Just in case. On this particular night, we had eleven people, but only a few wine drinkers. Boiling Crab doesn’t even serve wine, so I’ve learned to bring my own glasses (Riedel restaurant grade) in my rolling wine carrier. The wines are shoved in the back along with some icepacks (whites) and a bunch of cork screws and the like.
And this is because TBC does not spend any money on extras. There are no plates. No glasses. No utensils. Food is served in plastic bags. Yes, that’s right, plastic bags. I’ve never even seen this before!
Given that this place serves seafood covered in spice, butter, and garlic, two of us brought good German Rieslings.
Parker 93, “The complex 2003 Riesling Auslese Erdener Treppchen boasts a nose of honeysuckle blossoms. Medium-bodied, supple, and silky-textured, it exhibits an expressive flavor profile composed of red fruits, pears, and spices. In addition, this luscious, pure wine possesses a long, fruit-filled finish.”
This one had a little age and a hint of classic Riesling petrol.
From my cellar: Parker 96, “After a performance like this for a Spatlese, the warning was hardly necessary! Donnhoff’s 2009 Niederhauser Hermannshohle Riesling Spatlese offers a riot of herbal aromas reminiscent of but far more intense and diverse than that of the corresponding Grosses Gewachs, and here, too, accompanied by grapefruit and passion fruit in a manner that calls to mind Sauvignon. Horehound, licorice, sage, mint, black tea, nut oils, candied grapefruit rind, and crushed stone inform a silken-textured palate. As with the corresponding Brucke, there is a remarkable interactivity on display, and a depth of mineral and animal savor that goes beyond crustacean shell reduction or veal demi-glace, leaving me salivating helplessly.”
This was my Riesling, and it was considerably sweeter than the first one. In my opinion, both paired fantastically with the spicy garlic seafood.
Parker 93, “David Powell consistently excels with The Steading, an 8,000 case blend of Grenache, Mourvedre, and Shiraz. Aged 22 months in 300 liter hogsheads (foudres), it represents Australia’s version of Chateauneuf du Pape. The 2002 The Steading’s big, spicy, earthy nose reveals notions of cherry liqueur, licorice, pepper, dried Provencal herbs, raspberries, and leather. Ripe, medium to full-bodied, chewy, and heady, it is best drunk during its first 7-8 years of life, although it will last a lot longer.”
This was a nice wine, but I thought it clashed pretty badly with the food. Really any red would.
Some of the shrimp on the table. The cost savings here is passed onto the consumer: you have to de-head and de-leg and de-vein your own shrimp. They were, however, awesome, and probably even better than the crab. The sauce was literally finger licking good.
Sweet potato fries.
Parker 94, “The 2009 Chateauneuf du Pape is dominated by Grenache with major amounts of Mourvedre, Syrah and other authorized varietals. Its dense ruby/plum color is followed by aromas of smoked meats, roasted Provencal herbs, a gamy character and lots of kirsch, black currant and blue fruits. Rich and full-bodied, it is softer than most young vintages of Vieux Donjon tend to be.”
Very nice, smooth wine, but too strong for the food.
Despite the mess, this place was pretty fantastic. And what a deal, $39 all in for each person (including tax and tip). The above was food for five too! You’re paying entirely for the seafood, and nothing extra. I don’t mind the atmosphere or mess (it is what it is), but I wish there wasn’t such a long line :-). I guess nothing is too good to be true.
At The Boiling Crab, even girls get their hands dirty (this is some random adjacent table).sharethis_button(); ?>
Restaurant: Long Beach Dempsey
Location: 25 Dempsey road Left turn to Dempsey via Holland Rd (before Peirce Rd) Singapore 249670 Tel: 6323 2222
Date: March 23, 2012
Rating: Amazing Crab
On my way back from the Maldives (see here for that food) we stopped for a day in Singapore. I’d been told this pretty and modern city has some of the best eating in Asia. The Raffles hotel (where we were staying) sent us to this local chain for some chili crab. It wasn’t fancy by western standards, but the crab was phenomenal.
And for the trio of main event items this is “classic white pepper crab.” There were a choice of crabs between $68 and $220 dollars. We went for these “popular” Sri Lankan crags. They were huge and delicious, and not nearly as expensive as the Alaskan King Crabs and the like. The white pepper crab had an awesome and delicate white pepper flavor. Not cloying in the least.
When we ordered this clam and noodle dish the waiter sold us we wouldn’t like it, “too local.” It was odd. Like steamed clams in gravy covered in strips of fried clams. By gravy I mean Turkey gravy or the like. As I said, odd.
This meal might not look like one of my crazy Michelin places but it sure was fantastic!
Location: 14160 Palaway Way, Marina del Rey, CA 90292 310.439.3033
Date: July 28 & 30, 2011
Rating: Interesting, but a little all over the place
My brother and I were out for our weekly lunch adventure and after Gjelina had a 45 minute wait we made our way to Vu, which I had tried a couple months ago for dinner.
I was a little surprised to find the lunch menu, PDF here, a bit “more conventional” than the modern tapas centric dinner menu.
“Green Curry Soup: Mussels, coconut boba, micro cilantro.” This was quite good. Fairly spicy, coconuty, definably rich. The mussels, boba, and pork lumps inside were like little prizes to hunt for.
“Seared King Cole Duck Breast Salad: mixed greens, goat cheese, dried cherries, chocolate-spiced cashews, red wine vinaigrette.” This was pretty tasty, the duck was good, and the various elements. But the mix was overall a little weird. I’m pretty sure there was sisho in the greens, as they had that distinct flavor. Now I like sisho, but the overall flavor profile of the dish was a little helter-skelter.
“Blue Crab Cakes: charred tomato, orange, brioche bread crumbs, pickled red onion, mache, mustard ice cream.” These crab-cakes were way over fried, and inside they were stuffed with tarragon. So much so that they tasted like tarragon cakes. This wasn’t ideal, masking the crab flavor (as did the heavy fry). No where near in the league of the crab-cakes from Houstons or Capo.
I also popped down to Vu two days after this with my toddler from some brunch as we were already in the Marina.
“Lobster Omelette: asparagus, shaved fennel, niman ranch pork belly, pommery hollandaise, home fries.” This wasn’t bad at all, but the overall flavor profile was again a little weird. The sour mustard clashed a bit with the sweetness of the pork and lobster.
Overall Vu is trying interesting stuff, but the chef is too wild with his palette. I’m all for crazy and interesting combinations and new modern techniques — really all over them — but they need to be employed with care. Dishes still have to work together harmoniously, which isn’t really going on here.
Restaurant: Tidewater Grille
Location: 300 FRANKLIN STREET, HAVRE DE GRACE, MD 21078 410.939.3313
Date: April 18, 2011
Cuisine: Eastern Shore American
Rating: Real crab cakes!
One of the great things about the greater Washington DC area is the proximity of authentic Eastern Shore crab (and hence crab cakes!). Technically this is a “guest palette” as my brother was the one doing the eating. So the text and pictures are by Mitch Gavin.
An unassuming coastal frontage but a surprising beautiful find. My parents have been going to this spot for a decade or two. We used to go to a restaurant up the street with a reputation for great eastern shore crab cakes and fried chicken. I think I remember a s a kid getting a lot of bacon and dipping it in apple sauce. To be discussed at a later date. But in the recent past 2 decades M & D have been talking about this place. I finally went one recent visit driving from DC to Philly to see my cousins.
To start: Maryland Blue Crab Soup. Hands down my favorite soup and most scrumptious! Vegetable base with chunks of tomato, corn, green beans I think and loads of crab meat. Just crab. Followed by a spicy seafood seasoning. Something that reminds you of the beach and spiced vinegar fries. Hot! I tried to squeeze a bowl in because it’s going to be a year before I taste something this good again.
Now onto the crab cake! Tidewater is the best crab cake east or west of the Mississippi. These things are just so truly American, harder to find and worth savoring every bite. Again you don’t find this in many places, it’s almost pure crab meat, very large and seared in a pan just right. The taste of crab is so distinctive and Maryland stands alone at the top, athough Louisiana might get the Blue Crab too and be a closer runner up. Arguably better tasting than the more expensive Maine Lobster this sandwish melts in your mouth. The chips at Tidewater are unique — just simple strips of baked potato –and great! The lettuce and tomato are unnecessary because additions just mask the special taste of the meat, so I recommend just lemon and bun. No tartar was added to this sandwich. 🙂 [ although Andy adds that he loves tartar sauce because “fat == flavor” ]
After a few iced teas, a cup of soup and the oh so lovely crab sandwich the total was only $24. Sandwich $14, Soup $4 and tea $2.5.
Here is another example, this one from Washington area restaurant Clydes.
Clydes crab cake was surprising lovely too, especially after closely visiting the Tidewater as acomparrison. It was a little more seared and smaller but very tasty. They even simplified the platter for you with no lettuce or tomato, annoying not to be given the choice, especially since they have over the past 30 years. And I’m not kidding people I’ve been going to this restaurant over 30 years; I even had my Bar Mitzvah there in the bright room upstairs in 1987!
Now the true pride in a restaurant in my opinion is not changing something that’s good. Over the years, Clyde’s has managed to maintain the absolute best Chili I have ever had, and they have been doing so since before 1985. It’s dark, molassesy, tangy and damn freaking good. Seriously I’ve had other “great” chili’s but the tang and flavor of this one keeps me coming back year after year (when home on holidays!).
Dad had to leave early so I ordered the Blondie Brownie Sundae (not pictured), which I liked as a kid for mom and I. The thing used to come in a tall Sundae glass, have a great grandma blondie brownie with carmel and great vanilla bean ice cream, nuts and everything but when the server brought it out on a flat plate the Blondie Brownie had no brown in it at all. It was disappointing as a too sweet flat white pastry looking thing with some vanilla ice cream, whip creme and thick brown chocolate sauce all over it that wasn’t good, maybe some nuts, the ice cream was similar but in short supply. Thumbs down and unfinished between two. That doesn’t say much that we then decided we didn’t need the unnecessary calories. But on a positive note I’ll be back to Clyde’s again for that Chili, Crab cake and a lot of other stuff. Clye’s gets a thumbs up.