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Monthly Archives: July 2012

Kenzo Winery (Napa Valley)

Kenzo Estate Winery – Napa Valley

Out of all the choices, my parents were adamant about visiting this winery because they can give the entire tour in Japanese lol. But honestly, this was an impressive tour and our family had the tour guide all to ourselves. The tour experience was very intimate, casual, and informative.

Kenzo wines are up and coming high end wines. It’s still rare to see them at most restaurants and they are relatively on the pricey side. About this Tsujimoto Kenzo… let me just say that he is quite gangster. Not only is he a successful business man as the CEO of Capcom, but he is also a ridiculous connoisseur of wines. Most people would go to their local liquor store to get a bottle of wine on sale for $7. Not for Mr. Kenzo. You know what he did? He just went “screw these wines on the market! I’ll just get all the experts together and make my own good shit!” and went on to make his own winery in Napa Valley. One of the most important people in the gaming industry with your very own wine label… Mr Kenzo, I look up to you as my role model.

Lobby:Image

The four wines currently out on the market.Image

Outside the lobby area. Looks like a nice place lunch.Image

Baby grapesImage

Tour guide explaining how gangster Mr. Kenzo is.Image

The Merlot grape batch with the lot number.Image

These vines are still very young.Image

Primary FermentationImage

Olive Tree: He makes his own olive oil on the side.Image

Primary FermentationImage

I believe this equipment presses on the grapes after the fermentation to get more juice out.Image

The humidity and climate controlled caveImage

Where all the barrels are keptImage

“M” means Medium toasted barrel.Image

“M+” means the barrel is highly toasted.
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My future home will have a cave with barrels of wine like this.Image

Wine tasting roomImage

The base of the glass is labeled with the name of the wine. Naturally, this is when the purchase order form comes out if you want to enjoy it in your hotel room.Image

Awesome scenery to enjoy wine.Image

That concluded the Kenzo Winery. Couple others we visited below.

Robert Mondavi WineryImage

Opus One Winery (if you never had it, try it… so awesome)ImageImage-Chef Snak

 

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2012 in Chef Snak, Everything Alcohol

 

Craft

Craft (Century City, chef Tom Colicchio): Gilt Tasting Menu

This high-end restaurant is in the heart of Century City, so expect people in professional business attire. We tried out the pre-set Gilt Tasting Menu (Highly recommend! Awesome deal for your buck)

Meal starts off with some sparkling wine. Aweeesome, I love starting all my meals with a glass of booze.

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Gilt Tasting Menu. The menu has our names on it! How freakin cool is that!?Image

Amuse Bouche: Salmon with citrus zest. sweet and sour dish that complimented our sparkling wine.Image

Duck and Cover: Duck fat washed Apple Jack, Alpine Liquor, Lemon, Orange, Egg White, and Candied Pecan. (I got too excited and I realized I didn’t take a photo of it before I drank it..) I usually don’t like drinks with egg whites, but this was an exception. Sweet and tart apple flavored cocktail with a crunch of pecan at the end. Not many cocktails incorporate textures like this. We described it as “some bad ass apple pie” lolImage

Diver Sea Scallop with rhubarb, blood orange, and sorrel: The bitter green contrasted the sweet orange. The sauce was great, but the scallop had a hint of the raw fishy taste at the end.. which I didn’t like too much.Image

English Pea Agnolotti with pancetta and tendrils: Pasta was at perfect al dente and the pancetta was well seasoned. The warm pasta withered the greens and the fresh peas popped in the mouth. This was delicious!Image

Washugyu Flatiron with bone marrow custard, fava beans, and kale: I know, horrible photo… but the dish was great. Bone marrow custard was super rich and it was an amazing combination with the steak. Image

Banana Date Cake with bing cherries and coconut sorbet: Mmmm..Image

Complimentary Birthday Cake: that’s nice of them!Image

Thanks for grabbing this deal, Shirley!Image-Chef Snak

 

Totoraku

Totoraku: Chef Kaz Oyama-san’s hidden restaurant

DISCLAIMER: Phone died on me this dinner… so I couldn’t write any notes and I had to steal some photos from friend’s FB. My apology for the shitty review and photo. Chef Oyama-san deserves better, but at least you get an idea for the place. Kevin Eats has an awesome review for this place.

Outside: The restaurant is locked and the sign says “Teriyaki Pico House.” This place is reservation-only and the craziest thing is that not anybody can call in for a reservation. You have to know the chef or go in with a person who got a business card from the chef before. You will be denied if you call in for a reservation and he does not remember you. Luckily, a friend’s friend had a connection to get us all in. You would never guess that you will have one of the best yakiniku in the US at this place.

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The meal starts off with various amuse bouche for the table. Most of them were traditional Japanese dishes with modern American style flare. They were all delicious.Image

Beef TartareImage

Beef tataki and Beef Throat: Never had beef throat in my life, but this was fantastic. Almost like eating sashimi! Evidently, it takes couple cows to get enough meat to fill that small bowl shown in the photo. After the meal, the waitress asks what you liked and you can ask for seconds on anything. We chose this and another plate of beef tongue and Rib Eye lol.

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Yuuke: Spicy Korean styleImage

Beef Tongue: Nice and thick slices. Look at the color!! Love my beef tongue and this was easily the best one I had in my life.Image

A lot of attention to the coal and grill used for the yakiniku.Image

Following photos are the various cuts that were served to us. The subsequent dishes came out immediately after the waitress confirmed that the last dish was completed. Meats included Filet Mignon, Inside Ribeye, Outside Ribeye, Shortrib, and Skirt Steak. Each one was surprisingly different in its own way. Waitress kindly explained to us how to cook it and which sauce to use. Talking to the chef, he apparently traveled all over the country to try hundreds of different beefs. He finally came across one that was close to high quality beef he had in Japan. Obviously, the details are highly classified.ImageImageImageImageImage

You must try the tomatoes… for some reason it was super good (or maybe it was all the sake and wine at this point)Image

Meal ended with a warm soup (choice or regular or spicy) and a plate of various ice creams.ImageImage

The bill was quite ridiculous. Yes, it was about $200 per person (+wine I bought at Vons), but the meal was excellent and I never experienced anything like it before. If you have the opportunity to check it out, I definitely recommend trying it at least once. The plus side is that it is BYOB with no corkage fee, so go ahead and drink whatever and however much you want (although you probably want to remember the mad expensive dinner). Bonus points for offering good-ass red wine to chef Oyama. He comes around at the end of your meal to show his appreciation and to get to know his customers. He’s more comfortable speaking Japanese, but he’s a super funny guy.

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Chef Kaz Oyama-san and the girls. He looks quite happy 🙂 Proud to say that I got his business card for my next trip.. but I would need to save some $$$ for it.Image-Chef Snak

 

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2012 in Chef Snak, Los Angeles, Restaurant Reviews

 

Bouchon Bistro

Bouchon Bistro, Yountville (Napa Valley): Thomas Keller’s 2 Michelin Star restaurant. Image

Warm and fresh bread that gets placed on your table. Unique shape but easy to tear off for individual portions.Image

Rye Invention: Rye Whiskey, Elderflower liquor, Aperol. Overall impression: scent of citrus and sweetness aftertaste of rye. Light and slightly bitter cocktail. Great drink for a night out, but didn’t go too well with the food.Image

Terrine Foe Gras: VERY rich. Sweet and melts in your mouth like butter. (quality foe gras! didn’t smell at all)Image

Lobster Bisque: Poured right at your table. Smelt the lobster from across the table! and yes, it was delicious.Image

Spring Vegetables: Refreshing dish. Tad sour flavor with the vinaigrette.Image

Lobster Bisque: Close-upImage

Epaule de Porc: Braised pork shoulder with potato puree, peas, carrots, and whole grain mustard sauce. This pork breaks apart with the fork. Fluffy and creamy potato went well with it.Image

Boudin Blanc: White sausage with potato puree and French prunes. Surprised by how soft and tender the sausage was (thought it would be hard) and the skin still had its snap. Prunes added sweetness, which was a nice contrast to the creamy potato and the sausage.Image

Poulet Roti: Roasted chicken with fresh chickpeas, green garlic, carmelized artichokes, and chicken au jus. “WTF!?” was literally my comment I wrote to myself. Best dish we had this meal. Crispy skin, tender meat, great sauce.Image

Gigot d’Agneau: Roasted leg of lamb with merguez sausage, flageolet beans, and thyme jus. Excellent dish if you like the gamey-ness of lamb. Sauce was amazing with the gamey flavor infused into it. Image

Profiteroles: Vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauceImageImage

Ambiance: Loud atmosphere with people sitting relatively close to you. Thought this was surprising for a two michelin star establishment, but maybe it’s different for dinner.Image

Had to take a photo of French LaundryImage

Bouchon Bakery: Huge Macaroons (very tasty too!)Image-Chef Snak