Location: Korea Town
Date: November 15, 2019
Cuisine: Modern French & Modern Szechuan Chinese!
Rating: Maybe the best LQ yet!
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 he’s hosting a special two chef dinner in Korea Town with Chengdu Chef Yu Bo — one of China’s most famous and avant-garde chefs.
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.
For this particular dinner, LQ and Bo have set up shop in the Hotel Normandie in Korea Town, which is one of those cool, old school LA buildings.
Check out the old pre-war style.
Our actual dinner was in the middle of this big (banquet?) room.
The menu tree.
The intro to the food.
The chef’s offered a decent looking wine pairing option — but we never like wine pairings — so we brought our own as usual.
From my cellar: 2010 David Leclapart Champagne Premier Cru L’Artiste Blanc de Blancs Pas Dosé Trépail. 92 points. Just a stunning nose with soft white flowers, citrus, a bit of toasty oak. The bubbles were soft and gently lifted the flavors: more floral notes on the palate, with lemon and lime and fantastic acidity. Seemed like it might have been less pressurized than some of the other champagnes.
The amuses are so elaborate they have their own menu page! There are, in fact, 13 of them!
Chef Bo’s amuses were all laid out in advance, a bit like a Chinese version of banchan. Mostly (but not entirely) the dishes were served in pairs with both chefs riffing on a particular ingredient.
Bitter Melon with Litsea Oil (Bo). This really showed off the “bitter” aspect of bitter melon.
Bitter Melon Grecque Style (LQ). The bitterness was a bit more offset by the sweetness of the tomatoes in this preparation.
Silk Ribbon Snake Bean in Ginger Sauce (BO). Tastier. Interesting twisted shape too. Beans were a bit spicy.
Blue Crab Gingered Achard (LQ).
Snow White Coral Roll (Bo). Lots of vinegar flavor and very tasty. Like a pickle essentially.
Pate Croute Grouse (LQ). This one didn’t match and was a prep of grouse liver.
From my cellar: 2012 Veyder-Malberg Grüner Veltliner Hochrain. 90 points. Poured a light golden yellow to the stem. Fresh nose of honeydew, smoke, cantaloupe, and lemon oil. Medium and refreshing on the palate with hints of grapefruit, green melon, hazelnut, and diffuse citrus nuance. A slight spritz on the back end characteristic of some Gruners. Very adept and precise winemaking here with a convincing vein of acidity. Paired with fresh line caught Snapper with basmati rice and cornbread.
Sparrow’s Wing Broccoli (Bo). Never had this vegetable before — that I know of — but Bo was showing off his knife skillz because it’s cut to look like a Sparrow’s Wing!
Braised Endive Chipotle Cotija (LQ). Fried!
Tomatoes with Aged Mandarin Peel Powder (Bo). Pretty good for tomatoes.
Mandarine Truffle Honey (LQ). Sweet.
Smoked Haddock Potatoes, Black garlic congee (LQ). Sort of a marriage of both Chinese and Western. Vaguely like a croquetta in form factor.
Dried mandarin peels. This was largely aromatic.
One of the wine pairing wines.
Mapo tofu, avocado, abalone (Bo).
With truffles too! I love Ma Po, and this was certainly the fanciest version I’ve had, and maybe one of the best. It was quite spicy, which I loved. Not so great for the wines, but tasty dish.
NV Billecart-Salmon Champagne Brut Rosé. VM 92. Pale orange. High-pitched red berry, orange zest and jasmine aromas, with suave mineral and smoky lees notes adding complexity. Spicy and precise on the palate, showing very good punch to its strawberry and bitter cherry flavors. Opens up smoothly with air and picks up a bitter rhubarb quality that lingers onto the long, tightly focused finish. This bottling showed more brawny character than many past renditions of this <em>cuvée</em>, but with no lack of vivacity.
Abalone, Arborino Rice, Uni (LQ).
Truffles here too. Nice risotto.
Fish Fragrant Lobster (Bo). Spicy also, and look at the interesting vegetable carving.
2016 Pierre Boisson Bourgogne Blanc. 92 points. Lovely Bougogne Blanc. Fleshy but still has some ‘zing’ to it. Wonderfully pure and clean.
Pacific Lobster, Mango, Ginger, Avocado, Yuzu Vinaigrette (LQ). Very nice lobster/avocado prep.
Black Cod, Pickled Mustard Greens (Bo). Lovely little soup. Very delicate cod. If I remember correctly, it was super spicy.
From my cellar: 2012 Prager Riesling Smaragd Wachstum Bodenstein. 91 points. More rounded and more fragrant on the nose than the Klaus, with white peaches and a bit of pear nectar. Slightly muted at first on the palate, but opens up to coat the roof of the mouth. Seemed initially to tail a bit on the finish, but leaves a longlasting impression in the lower register. A wine that creeps up on you!
North Sea Yellow Cod, chicken broth, fennel two ways, crosnes (LQ).
Chicken Tofu (Bo). With truffle. Tofu texture, chicken taste. Interesting. Perhaps weird for those who don’t like unusual textures.
DGR Quail, Persimmons Chutney, celery root slaw (LQ). LQ excels at game birds.
Portraits of both chefs (Bo on the left, LQ on the right).
2002 Jean-Pierre Mugneret Echezeaux. 93 points. Initially baking spice and cherries, pretty but somehow reticent, youthful and inexpressive. After 4 hours slow ox a real powerhouse of weightless complexity. Rose, violets, complex perfume scents on the nose. Quite a saline, savoury palate, beef stock, soy, hoisin, seaweed, iodine, Yuzu, very intense and long. But the nose is truely amazing.
Wild Wood Pigeon with Sweet Paste (Bo).
The meat was inside the orange. Very unusual presentation and highly aromatic. Sort of vaguely sweet too.
Scottish Wood Pigeon, huckleberry, chanterelles, fig tatin (LQ). Lovely, and very gamey (in a good way).
Steamed Pork Belly, Jasmin Rice (Bo). A truffled modern version of the classic pork with rice.
DGR Braised Pork Shank, sweet potato, pomegranate, Tokyo turnips (LQ). This was a great dish. Super meaty and tasty. Sort of springroll like.
From my cellar: 2003 Gros Frère et Sœur Grands-Echezeaux. BH 89-92. This too is very toasty but the spicy black fruit nose manages to transcend the wood and complements powerful, dense, borderline massive flavors of superb depth, all wrapped in dusty, firm and ripe tannins. This is a big wine and while it’s no model of elegance, one has to admire the muscle and sheer concentration. This will take its time coming around. (Drink starting 2011)
Sautéed A5 Wagyu Beef (Bo). Outside was crunchy with a beefy soft interior — like a Chinese taquito?
Flannery Wagyu Rib Cap, Torchon, Leeks (LQ). Pretty classic.
Cabbage Heart in Clear Broth (Bo).
Actually kinda lovely.
2 Vacherins, truffle brioche (LQ). Vacherin is always a great cheese.
Chestnut Fontaine Bleau (center).
The two chefs, LQ (far right) and Chef Bo (to his left in the blue chef’s jacket).
This was another seriously epic night, probably my favorite LQ meal yet — maybe because I love Chinese food the mix added a lot. I loved many dishes from both chefs, but I probably leaned a little toward Chef Bo’s on this particular night because of the increased novelty factor. I’d wanted to go to Chef Bo’s place last year when I was in Chengdu but didn’t want to drag the whole family to a huge modernist Szechuan dinner, so I was very grateful to try it here in LA. His knifework is pretty crazy as you can see.
This was a big meal with a lot of courses. The pacing was good though and I wasn’t completely stuffed — merely quite full. Not on the scale with our LQ Seafood Tower over order! Just about right. Great stuff and extremely creative work from both chefs.