Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Seattle - The Walrus & The Carpenter

I've always wanted to go to The Walrus & The Carpenter in Seattle. Though it is for slightly morbid reasons - I mean in the Lewis Carroll poem ALL THE OYSTERS DIE. Even in the Disney version of Alice in Wonderland, they all get eaten. And if Disney can't put a cheery spin on this poem, basically no one can. 

I wish I could say that we spared the poor oysters when we went but ... that didn't happen. Case in point:

Oyster choices of the night (4 each) - Evening Cove, North Bay, Flapjack Point, Treasure Cave, Baywater Sweet, Hama Hama, Blue Point, Penn Cove Select

Sorry, oysters. You were delicious. Especially the North Bay ones, which were the unanimous table favorite. We also ordered other dishes to try out cause you can't live on oysters alone.

uni profiteroles

roasted beets, whole grain mustard

steak tartare, egg yolk, rye toast

marinated octopus, red onion, potatoes, ballymaloe bread

ling cod carpaccio, titone olive oil

raw spot prawns, fried shells

smoked trout, lentils, walnut, onion, crème fraîche

fried oysters, cilantro aioli

key lime pie, cherry compote

We went 30 minutes before opening to guarantee a seat, as the restaurant is tiny. Overall, the meal was good and the oysters were good but I'm not sure if there were any dishes that I'd die to go back for. The uni profiteroles were fantastic and the table loved them - but would I wait 30 minutes just to eat them again? I'm not sure. They were the special of the day anyways so there's probably no real chance of having them again!

However, the place is such an institution that I'd definitely recommend going at least once to check it out. The food won't disappoint!

The Walrus & The Carpenter
4743 Ballard Ave, Seattle, Washington

Monday, April 6, 2015

Mustard Broccoli Chicken Salad

Sorry the above picture isn't the best. I cooked half of the contents of my refrigerator last night so there was absolutely no time to take out the nice camera so I resorted to using my phone camera. Plus my coworkers keep asking me for this recipe (Hi Sona! Hi Judy!) so I need to get this post up ASAP!

There are several ways to make chicken breast for this recipe:
(1) Buy a rotisserie chicken from Costco/Ralphs/Pavillions/etc, eat the delicious dark meat and save the breast pieces for this salad
(2) Buy bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts. Rub with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and bake at 350degrees for about 25 minutes. Remove skin and bone, cut the chicken into pieces.
(3) Buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Rub with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and cook on the stovetop grill until done. If the pieces are huge like mine were last night, grill for 10 minutes on each side over medium heat and then finish in a 350degree oven for another 10 minutes or so. It's better to grill for skinless/boneless instead of oven roasting because the lack of skin and bone takes away from flavor, which the grill imparts onto the chicken.

Confused? Hopefully not. But the above is a great way to get cooked chicken for all recipes - salads, soups, just to have grilled chicken for a healthy dinner, etc. The recipe below is a rift on a Ina Garten recipe but I definitely health-ied it up.

Mustard Broccoli Chicken Salad
1 1/2 lb cooked and cut chicken breast (about 6 cups)
1 lb broccoli florets
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup chopped dill or tarragon (to your taste)

1 200g container low-fat Greek yogurt (I used 2% Fage)
1 1/2 Tbsp mayonnaise
3 Tbsp Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp whole grain mustard
1 Tbsp red or white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp kosher salt

Season chicken with salt and pepper (if not cooked yet) and cook. In the meantime, cook the broccoli florets in salted boiling water for about 1.5 minutes, just to get the raw taste out. Drain immediately and either shock in an ice bath or run under cold water for about a minute to keep the bright green color.

Mix the ingredients for the dressing together. If you're cooking the chicken to order then pour about 1/3 cup of the dressing while it's still warm, after you've cut it up. The warmness of the chicken will soak up the dressing.

Combine the chicken, broccoli and tomatoes. Mix in the dressing until everything is moistened and the amount of dressing is to your preference. Gently stir in dill or tarragon to taste. Don't skimp, it makes all the difference!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon

Dining at Joël Robuchon is a dream of mine. A pricey dream. But L'Atelier is the cheaper (albeit still on the pricey side) way to experience his cuisine without springing close to $500! I definitely took advantage of this opportunity when my mom and myself were in Vegas on Christmas Day. My dad and brother weren't coming until the next day so I convinced my mom that dining here was a great idea. Win!

Most of the space is for counter seating, which is great because you can see the kitchen at work. The interior is super sleek and modern. Very Vegas-feeling. I really liked the pops of red against the black.

There are multiple menus to choose from (3 course, 5 course, a la carte) but we decided to go for the Seasonal Discovery Menu. Cause my frugal dad wasn't there to stop us. Now on to the food!

bread course

foie gras parfait with port wine reduction and parmesan emulsion

shrimp carpaccio with lemon vinagrette

meli-melo of celeriac and truffle with granny smith wasabi mayo

sea scallop cooked in the shell with chive oil on an artichoke jus

foie gras herb tortellini served in a boullion with matsutake and white soy sauce

seared turbot filet, shellfish butter with crushed fingerling potatoes and black truffle

entree option 1: veal hanger, chanterelle mushrooms and comté gratinés maraconi

entree option 2: caramelized free range quail stuffed with foie gras served with mashed potatoes

sour cream mousse, cranberry sorbet and oat tuile

spiced "cremeux" on sage crumbles with ginger ice cream

The meal ended with tea and I loved the attention to detail given to even that - look at the little printed chocolates that came with out tea! This meal was so amazing, totally lived up to my expectations and everything was executed perfectly. The foie gras ravioli, mashed potatoes, quail and veal hanger were definitely stand outs but I can honestly say that each and every dish was delicious.

Can't eat like this every day but on a special occasion - it's worth every penny of the splurge.

L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon
MGM Grand Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Honey Mustard Chicken Thighs

OK so my plating might need some work. However, don't let that deter you from making these honey mustard chicken thighs. So so good and quick. I used dark meat, but you can use chicken breast if you prefer - dark meat is just more tender and forgiving to a bit of overcooking.

I never used to like mustard and to some point, I still don't. Whole grain mustard, honey mustard and Dijon mustard are the only ones that I really like. Don't even mention classic American yellow mustard ... blech! I don't know what it is about the taste that is a total turn-off to me. However, I also didn't like blue cheese as a kid and absolutely adore it now. Mustard-lovers, don't write me off yet!

There are very few ingredients in this dish and most can be found in your pantry. Definitely don't skip the shallots though, because they add some awesome flavor to this dish. I actually used two ginormous shallots and couldn't get enough of them. You can serve this dish with steamed rice and steamed veggies ... the sweet and savory sauce left from the chicken is perfect for dredging rice and steamed broccoli through.

Honey Mustard Chicken Thighs
adapted from i am a food blog
Serves 4-6 (depending on the sides)

1/4 cup honey
2 Tbsp whole grain mustard
2 Tbsp dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced
6-8 chicken thighs, bone in and skin on
2 shallots, quartered
1-2 stalks green onion, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350degrees F.

In a bowl, whisk together the honey, mustards and garlic.

Pat the thighs as dry as possible and season well with salt and pepper. Heat up a large skillet on medium high heat and brown the thighs, skin side down, for five minutes until golden and crispy. Do this in two batches (depending on the size of your skillet) in order to not crowd the pan - you want the chicken to brown, not steam. A lot of fat will render out from the skin.

Place the browned chicken thighs in a large oven-proof casserole dish (it can fit snugly). Scatter the shallots over.and pour on the honey mustard mixture. Bake for about 40 minutes, until the thighs are cooked through. Top with the green onions and serve.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Taihei Japanese Restaurant

A lot of sushi restaurants are doing omakase dining these days, which is sushi based on the chef's choice. Sometimes it's not straight sushi either, as the chef could choose to serve some hot or cold appetizers as well. But omakase is the best thing to get because you get to experience cuts that the chef doesn't always serve or stores away specifically for these types of menus.

Most omakase can run over $100 per person, but Taihei Japanese Restaurant in Monterey Park is very good and very affordable. If you've never had omakase before, definitely try this restaurant out! You can get the menu at either the tables or the sushi bar, which is different from most other places that only serve omakase at the bar. Plus, it will only run you about $50 per person before tax and tip!

salmon, yellowtail belly, toro

hama hama oysters

ikura, uni, sweet shrimp

Spanish mackerel

tai snapper, striped bass, halibut

squid with shiso, octopus with salt and lemon

saltwater eel, freshwater eel

There was a final dish that was diner's choice of whatever was on the menu - clam soup, miso soup, tempuras, etc. They told me that it was included in the omakase but I have a sneaking suspicion that they just charge you for the price of the item - so you could choose something cheaper or pricier and you will just be charged accordingly. There's no way they gave my parents tempura and me an extra two pieces of toro (shown at the top picture) for the same price!

Taihei Japanese Restaurant
2195 S Garfield Ave, Monterey Park, CA 91754