Monday, May 16, 2011

Ibaraki Japan Benefit Dinner @ Breadbar - 05/16/2011

10250 Santa Monica Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90067
(310) 277-3770

Breadbar's Chief Gastronomy Officer Noriyuki Sugie is one of the pioneers of the LA pop-up scene. This time the event is personal for Sugie, a native of the stricken Ibaraki prefecture, who is using the event to raise money to aid Japan's disaster relief efforts in the wake of the massive earthquake and tsunami. To help him he has gathered an impressive array of LA's best culinary talents including: David Meyers, Michael Cimarusti, Walter Manzke, Ramon Perez, and Hiroyuki Urasawa.

Canapé by Noriyuki Sugie - Pumpernickel, Aged Lard, Artichoke Barigoule, Caramelized Eel, Sansho Pepper
NV Jean Philippe, "Brut, Blanquette de Limoux," Languedoc, France
First up were three very different small bites from the organizer and host chef, Noriyuki Sugie. The pumpernickel and aged lard started off with the grainy sweetness of the pumpernickel with the lard liquefying upon mastication and releasing a pleasant richness. The artichoke barigoule tempered the herbaceous tang with a cuboid of creamy cheese. Last up was the eel, with the sweetness of pineapple upfront, followed by a gentle tingle from the sansho and finished with the fishy punch of the eel itself.

1st Course by Hiroyuki Urasawa: Tartare Duo - Hokkaido Scallop & Marinated Salmon Roe, Wasabi Shitake Mushroom & Toro, Oscetra Caviar, Takuan, Scallion
Hananomai Sake "Katana" Junmai Ginjo, Japan
The meal proper began with a bang as we were presented with two unabashedly luxurious spoonfuls from Urasawa. First up was a sweet creamy minced Hokkaido scallop whose sweetness was countered by the bold briny Ikura and accented by a small sliver of the mushroom and wasabi. The second spoon featured a much heavier and richer duo in the toro and caviar, abundantly fatty and salty, with the sprinkling of takuan and scallion interjecting just enough freshness and texture. I was curious how Urasawa's deliberate style would fare when he had to simultaneously serve 30 diners. The scallop and roe felt a bit warmer than I would have liked, understandable given the number of plates, but aside from that the dish was the same faultless quality that I've come to expect from Hiro-san.

2nd Course by Michael Cimarusti: Soymilk Panna Cotta - Santa Barbara Sea Urchin, Geoduck Clam & Fresh Wasabi
Epiphany 2009 Riesling Santa Barbara County, California
Visually this course was nothing less than a work of art and if anything it tasted even better than it looked. Hidden under the foliage were generous pieces of sweet creamy roe. The flavor of the uni simply resonates through the panna cotta leaving a lingering essence of the sea on the palate. Hands down this was the best course of the evening and it might rank as one of the best things I've eaten all year!

3rd Course by Walter Manzke: Santa Barbara Prawns - Thai Curry, Spring Pea
Jean-Marc Brocard, 2008 Petit Chablis, Burgundy, France
Simply a faultlessly prepared prawn sweet succulent and crisp. The curry was typically vibrant and I expected it to utterly overwhelm the shrimp but somehow the shellfish's ethereal flavor still comes through. The pea custard lining the bottom of the bowl was a nice touch, adding a subtle tinge of vegetal sweetness.

4th Course by David Myers: Charcoal Akage Beef - Matsutake Tempura, Tsukemono
Fat Monk 2009 Pinot Noir, Central Coast California
I was a bit put off by the dark color of the beef and mushrooms but the flavor turned out surprisingly well. The meat was a touch dry but possessed a lovely char tinged beefiness reminiscent of pastrami. The grilled meat paired nicely with the earthiness of the mushroom while the gently pickled radish added just the right amount of moisture back to the meat.

5th Course by Ramon Perez: Sakura Cream - Black Okinawa Sugar, Alpine Strawberry, Cherry Blossom-Yogurt Sorbet
Mizbasho Sparkling Sake "Pure", Gunma, Japan
The dessert centered around a cherry blossom cream, its floral perfume and gentle sweetness intertwined seamlessly with the flavor of the strawberries. A topping of sprouts added a savory vegetal edge to the soft flowing flavors of the sakura.

Some light treats were presented while diners perused the auctions. In keeping with the Japanese styling of the meal we have: green tea macarons, yuzu marshmallows, and some flavored chocolate.

One and all the chefs did an outstanding job in the name of a worthy cause. I am looking forward to Wednesday's dinner where LA's culinary young guns will get their turn to shine.


Diana said...

Amazing pictures Ryan! Delicious dinner. Great to see you!

Darin said...

Good seeing you tonight Ryan. That Cimarusti course was as good as it looked!

Charlie Fu said...

man that sounded delicious. I bet tomorrow's will be just as tasty. Color me jealous

Epicuryan said...

Diana & Darin,
Great to see you two as well. I liked all the live tweets on Cimarusti's dish. Hope I didn't spoil it too much for you guys.

The lineup of chefs seems more extensive tomorrow, you should try to make it. I can't wait to see what Voltaggio has planned for tomorrow.

Sam C. said...

Gotta love the pic of Cimarusti!! Thanks man!

Sam C. said...

lol..i meant cimarusti's dish...oops!!!

Epicuryan said...

Haha Cimarusti is a handsome guy but I figured you were complimenting his dish as I don't actually have a picture of him on the post ;)