Friday, March 30, 2012

China Poblano, Las Vegas

On our balls out gastro trip, this Chinese/Mexican fusion spot was another highlight. Casual and inexpensive, this fun little place, remote controlled by José Andres and located in an over the top shopping mall in the bowels of the Cosmopolitan hotel, served up consistently interesting and unpretentious food (something lacking in a lot of the other restaurants we tried, yes, Animal and Son of a Gun, I'm talking about you!). Waitstaff was courteous, friendly and well trained, and seemed to know the menu inside and out. Dishes such as Chinese BBQ pork stuffed steamed buns and Sui Mai Beef (beef/lime/daikon/watermelon radish) shone while we cared a bit less for the Viva China (beef tenderloin/Kumamoto oyster, Sichuan pepper sauce) and Silencio tacos (duck tongue and lychee)- the textures just didn't do it for us. Stars for the superb guacamole and fresh, warm tortillas.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Red Medicine, West Coast Wow

Just got back from LA and Vegas on an eight day tasting and drinking tour where we hit pretty much every restaurant of note in the limited time we had. Spurred on and informed by insiders of the foodie echelon of the highest level, we left no stone unturned. Coming from the best restaurant city in the world, we obviously had our critical antennae out , especially where it came to big name French chefs implanted in Vegas offering watered down versions, for the most part, of cooking we could eat at home at half the price. That being said, there were revelations.

In my opinion, the only restaurant worth getting excited about in Los Angeles at the moment (I can already taste the blowback from that comment) is Red Medicine. This buzzy, industrial spot just on Wilshire is the brainchild of Jordan Kahn, who, started off at the tender age of 17 at the French Laundry, the youngest chef ever to work there, and made his way as a pastry chef through Per Se, Alinea and Noma. At Red Medecine he cooks up a "homage" to his love of Asian cuisine (especially Vietnamese), and although the plates sometimes groan under the weight of the herbs and flowers piled on, the cooking is fresh, bright and unusual.

Highlights included Santa Barbara spot prawns cooked over river stones with lemongrass, wild striped bass with charred mustard leaf, boiled peanuts, wild garlic and burnt onion syrup, and a mindblowingly subtle, silky, elegant  and delicious heirloom rice porridge with egg yolk, hazelnuts, ginseng, echire butter and Santa Barbara uni.

This is truly a restaurant to be enthusiastic about, and I wouldn't hesitate to take that 12 hour flight for dinner here again.

"Snow" peas

Foie gras mousse, tete de cochon, beet, kohlrabi, chicory and croissant

Heirloom rice porridge and Santa Barbara uni 

Santa Barbara spot prawns cooked in lemongrass over hot river stones