Jun 25, 2013

Thai Chi...Wafi's Best Kept Culinary Secret!

Tucked away in the Wafi pyramids is one of the most elegant ethnic restaurants in Dubai, Thai Chi! The high glass ceilings and rustic Thai decor give this place a warm cozy feeling I have always enjoyed Thai restaurants across the globe.  The formula in terms of ambiance and service is what you expect in Thailand, but the fact that they have been able to replicate that authenticity right here in Dubai is even better!

Serving up fantastic Thai and Chinese all "under one roof" you really can't go wrong with anything on the menu. Our evening was mostly dedicated to trying the Thai delicacies, however a couple of the Chinese items also slipped into the mix. 

Our efficient and friendly waiter made the rounds and greeted us with a warm and welcoming smile.  They brough over hot towels, as is the custom in many Asian hotels and restaurants.  We were offered some soemthign to drink and sevred the prawn crackers with chilli dipping sauce to begin.  As we perused the menu,  we noticed a diverse selection of menu items that made it difficult to make our selections.  With the help of our knowlegdable waiter Ramesh and restaurant manager Nok, we were able to figure out the most balanced choices for the evening, which really showcased the best Tha Chi had to offer.   
We started the meal off with a Duck salad and some of the special steamed dumplings, including a lobster with squid ink wrapper, prawn har gao, and seafood shu mai.  They were made fresh to order with the subtle flavors and soft texture, presented in a colorful array which was aesthetically pleasing to the eye.  On the other hand the duck salad was bursting with chilli and had an overwhelming amount of red onion.  It was a bit to spicy for my liking, if the duck skin was prepared slightly more on the crisp side with less of the onion and chilli, this dish would have suited my liking abit more. 
I also came across these gorgeous sweet corn cakes with a pickled cucumber sauce under the vegetarian options.  Seasoned with the best of thai spices and herbs, these fritters totally hit the spot!  They were served in hearty portions, soft and creamy inside with a crispy outer shell, you could call it textural perfection in a lovely round package.

It was refreshing to see an entire menu dedicated to vegetable friendly cuisine. I actually enjoy vegetables more often than meat on a daily basis.  There is more variety of texture, flavor, and technique involved when using some of these delciate ingredients, and Thai Chi has done a fantastic job with the execution of veg in this tasty treat! 
The first course lingered on our minds and palattes as we emphatically waited for our next course.   With the giant window looking into the kitchen we noticed the chefs hard at work searing and woking up our mains.  The skill and precision the chefs demonstarted only comes with years of training in a professional environment.  These chefs were confident and meticulously handled the vegetables and proteins with tender love and care. 
Chef put all the finishing touches on the dishes here, with a delicate hand and focus, there is nothing that could take this chef away from perfecting his craft.  The team of chefs looking on with supprt and excitement is a clear sign of the harmony one should find in a smooth operating kitchen. 
 After appreciating the skill and craft of the kitchen under pressure, we made our way back to the table to prepare for the feast that was about to arrive.   The first menu item, which came highly recommended by the staff was the Omani Lobster with light red curry sauce and lemon leaves.  Lobster is one of my favorite food items. My love affair with this gourmet delicacy is rooted in my upbrining. New England is reknowned worldwide because of its abundance of Lobsters, so you can understand my obsession for it.  Although Omani lobster is slightly overfished, the goverement has nde an effort in preserving the natural sea life.  It can still be enjoyed as atreat every once in a while, but I have to admit, it's not as sweet as Maine Lobster

The presentation alone had my attention.  The chiffonade of razor thin lemon leaves and tendrils of sliced red peppers on top along with the drizzle of coconut cream all nestled into the lobster shell made my mouth water.  The light red coconut curry was a gorgeous consistency, thick and wholesome, it was bursting with aroma....I could hardly contain my excitement!  I am pleased with the level of spice in this dish, as anything spicier would really over power the protein.  The balance between the the sauce and natural flavor of the seafood was spot on.  Although the lobster was slightly overcooked, it was still elegantly enjoyed.
A Thai evening would not be complete without the quientessential Pad Thai!  I had actually first inquired about the Mi Krob Lad Na Talay (Crispy deep-fried egg noodles coated with a mushroom sauce), but the waiter insisted we try the house specialty, Pad Thai.  Going with his recommendation, the chicken and shrimp combination rice noodle dish arrived wrapped in an egg blanket.  This is the most traditional way to present this dish, so kudos on the autheticity of it.  The manager pointed out the condiments on the side to enhance the eating experience.  The noodles were savory and cooked to perfection,  but I actually wanted a little more heat and nutty flavor cooked into the noodles themselves rather than offering it as an accompaniment.
We also ordered one green vegetable, to balance the carbs and protein at the table.  These days I have had Kale on my mind, so when I saw the sauteed Thai Kale leaves with an oyster sauce on the offerings, it was only natural to go with that choice.  Seasoned well and served "al dente" with a natural crunch, the Kale leaves were also a memorable part of the meal.  Enjoying well cooked vegetables can really turn a good dining experience into a great one.  Thai Chi should be commneded on all aspects of this wonderful meal.  They did not skip a beat from beginning to end, and were beaming with pride through out.  It demonstrated their passion for their work as well as their faith in their food.   
Because the staff genuinely wanted us to enjoy the entire gamet of what Thai Chi had to offer, they insisted we try a dessert as well.  Scanning both the Thai and Chinese menu, we came across one item that really stood out to us, the fried bananas with honey sesame and coconut ice cream, as common as a chocolate fondant on menus across the globe.  As we ordered it, our waiter reluctantly informed us they were out of the coconut ice cream, but quickly offered the vanilla ice cream as a substitute.  It might be a popular item, but rarely is it executed the right way. Without any hesitation, I can put my stamp of approval on the Thai Chi version of this dessert.  The deep fried batter encasing the sweet banana was soft and crispy at the same time. Glazed with the honey and sesame seeds, it really brought everything to the next level.  Anything served a la mode automatically improves the confectionary experience, and this vanilla did the trick.  I can only imagine how the coconut would have faired in the same scenario...... 
A wonderful restaurant located in the iconic Wafi pyramids, it's a must try for some robust flavorful cuisine!

Jun 22, 2013

"Dine Like a Sultan" at Jumeirah's Turkish Village Restaurant

Located conveniently on Beach Road in Jumeirah, Turkish Village Restaurant is a neighborhood gem!  This authentic Turkish restaurant boasts some of the most gorgeous architecture remisncent of Ottoman palaces.  The fine details are really what make this place stand out as a delightful dining experience.  This restaurant project began in 2010, and three years later has opened its doors to the public with a very warm welcome. 
 The offer is just outstanding, and offers a cross cultural appeal to various ethnicities.  I have always been a big fan of Turkish cuisine, but my prior experiences here in Dubai have failed me.  This is a true representation of this fabulous fair and it also incorporates the rich and colorful history of its origins. Even the executive chef hails from Istanbul bringing all his trade secrets of the Bosphorus along with him.  With almost 40 years of experience, chef Mustafa Demirhan makes his fellow country men proud as he wonderfully demonstrated to us that evening.   
 After taking in the beauty of the restaurant and the firendly staff, we finally sat down to enjoy what was on offer, starting with the mezze.   We enjoyed a variety of goodies, however, the one that really stood out was the Yogurt with Purslane (hogweed), garlicky and slightly tart, it was an explosion of culinary delight.  Not only is this magical little weed incredibly tasty, but it also has a lot of nutritive value.  Mixed delicately with the wholesome yogurt and savory seasoning, I had to pace myself, as I knew there was so much more to come....  
 Some of the other starters that made a mark, were the grape leaves, shepards salad, and the Turkish labneh. You could actually taste the freshness! Although these items are common on many MiddleEastern menus, the Turkish style of preparation varies slightly.  There is a lot more use of tomatoes and peppers (capsicums) as well as the spice profiles. There is also a lot more focus on lemony undertones with Turkish, where the sumac spice is more common in flavors from the Levant.  Both types of cuisine play upon the sweet and sour factor, which are well balanced  in this display of loveliness.   
 The best part about the meal was the fresh bread that came streaming out of the kitchen every 20 minutes, and a good thing it did!  It was deliciously addicting, soft, and warm, the way bread should be.  This style of Turkish Pita was baked with an egg wash and topped with sesame and nigella seeds for an added dimension of flavor.  It was the perfect vehicle to enjoy the mezza, as well as the kebab which came later in the meal. 
Half-way through the mezza service, the waiters came over and set some wooden blocks onto the table. Little did we know these blocks were going to be used as a base for the meter long wooden plank topped by the Konya bread with mince lamb mixture (Etliekmek).  I can honestly say this is one of the best things I have ever eaten.  the buttery mince meat, the subtle spices, and the crunchy bread just brining it all together....I dreamed about this dish.  I eventually recruited some friends to join me for round two just a couple of days later. 
Then in stealth mode, the waiters snuck in to drop off another meaty delicacy onto the table, the ever popular Doner kebab.   Slow cooked on a verticle spit, then cut thinly into succulent meat shavings, Turkish Village uses only the finest beef in their version of this dish.   Glistening with it's natural juices and fat, the  meat was well seasoned, and totally hit the spot.  It was not as greasy as other Doners I have had, which was a pleasant surprise!  Even the rice pilaf seved along side was fluffy and buttery, which completed the dish perfectly.
These waiters were so well trained they knew exactly how to manuevar around and table and quickly swooped in with the last meter long kebab of the evening.   The house had recommended the Urfa kebab which is similar to Adana Kebab (named after their respective cities of origin) but less spicy.  The infamous "Meter of Meat" is one of Turkish Villages signature styles of preparation.  It arrived perfectly symmetrical with an aroma that hightened our senses for the next level of this authentic Turkish experience.  The waiters came around and served each one of us a portion, but even after everyone was served, it appeared as if we didn't even make a dent from the meter long platter. 

Upon first bite, my initial reaction was simply...WOW!  I couldn't believe how full of flavor this lamb actually was.  The heartiness of the kebab was overwhelming, I felt as if I was having some out of body culinary experience.  I ate and ate and ate, I think I consumed more meat on this particular evening than I had the past 2 months.     

During the course of the indulgent meat feast, we were also informed all the meat was imported from Turkey, which made a HUGE difference here.  Not only was this exemplary technique, the ingredients used in every dish were all pure, fresh, and honest.  The owner and chef took pride in their work, and  and it really showed through with the food. 
At this point I had gone past the point of a food coma, this was a whole different level.  But I have to admit I enjoyed every bit of it.  I normally have self control when it comes to portion control, but the cuisine at Turkish Village is irresistible, we truly did "Dine like Sultans".   To add to that was the last and final course for the evening dessert!   

The house really pushed for us to try the Kunafa.  I am not one to turn away from recommendations, especially since the rest of the meal had been so stellar.  But my experiences with Kunafa in Dubai have been mediocre.  Often too sweet or too heavy or too dry, it has alwasy been a dissapointment. 

Since we had trusted the restuarant so far, it wouldn't hurt to give this last one a go as well.  And upon my first bite of this crispy sweet treat, my views on Kunafa had been completely changed.  The perfect amount of sweet scented syrup, soaked up into the toasted vermicilli, layered with salty cheese, all topped with Turkish whipped butter cream and ground pistachios, it was pure decadence. 
This was one of the most pleasant surprises I had experienced after a very long time.  Turkish Village Restaurant is a must whether you live in Jumeirah, Marina, Abu Dhabu, or are visiting from abroad.  I want to thank the team for such a wonderful meal, and I am counting the days until I reunite with the Konya and Kunafa.  

For more information check out the website: Turkish Village 

Jun 21, 2013

The Best of the West Coast (Part 2-San Francisco)

San Francisco is one of those cities people "LOVE". Whenever  I mentioned it to a friend or acquaintance, they had nothing but lovely things to say about it.  I didn't agree for many years, as on my numerous visits, the weather was always terrible and the food was mediocre.  However on this last visit, everything took a turn for the better! It could have been the friends I was visiting just brought a new baby boy into the world or the fact that some other close friends had just relocated to this Northern California destination.  Perhaps it was a combination of that and the fantastic food I had this time around, but I also have fallen "In Love" with San Francisco.  

Ferry Building is located close to Fisherman's wharf in the Embarcadero area at the foot of Market Street.  It's a haven for foodies as they have all the artisan eateries and small businesses all located under one roof.  With brands like Blue Bottle Coffee and Sur Le Table all easily accessible, I really didn't want to leave. 

Alas, we did have lunch plans so we made our way over to Ferry Plaza Seafood  which was conveniently located on the ocean side of the building. On that perfect sunny day, we enthusiastically sat our group of 6 down at a lovely corner table outside overlooking the Bay Bridge and passerby's.  The first item on our agenda was to of course order our lunch, as it's easy for a a group of friends who haven't seen each other in w while to get caught up in conversation.  

The item that initially stood out to me was Clam Chowder.  This menu was a little unusual as it had both New England and Manhattan, most restaurants would serve either one or the other.  Although my fellow New Englanders don't acknowledge the red version as an equal to the creamy original, I thought it would be best to get the combination deal.  The sweetness of the tomato based soup melded beautifully with the savory white chowder, an exciting balance of flavors.  It was served with a side of crusty San Francisco sourdough bread smothered with butter and a dash of sea salt....it was perfection!
As the chowder duo was quite satiating, my friend Carolyn and I decided to share a dish.  We went for the Dungeness Crab Tower, layers of sweet crab with grapefruit, avocado, frisee salad, and a grapefruit vinaigrette.  It was sweet, salty, tart, and fresh!  All the flavor profiles I was looking for in a salad that followed my first course.  Leaving us comfortable full, as we had a busy day ahead of us, this proved to be the perfect portion for lunch.
Although I thoroughly enjoyed my meal, I have to admit, I was a bit envious of my friend Pete's order.  He had the seared ahi tuna salad, with a sesame crust and served rare, my mouth watered at the site of that gorgeous fish.  The grains on the fish and coloring showed the quality and grade of this variety.  He made a wise choice and even did justice to this dish, as I made him responsible for snapping the photo here.  Thanks Pete!

After our delectable lunch, we walked around the Ferry Building a bit more to locate.  From my last visit I remember a little bakery by the bame of Boulette Larder in the far right corner of the building that made these cute little treats, for that perfect after meal bite I crave.  I can't remeber much of what else they offered, but lucky for me they had these gorgeous little chocolate brownie cookies with sea salt.  There was a slight little crust that coated the outside which led to a gooey chocolatey inside finished with the slight crunch of the sea salt....WOW!
Following the Ferry Building, we made our way around the more commercial areas of Fisherman's wharf and even sat to watch the sea lions who lined the docks at the pier.  Walking and sightseeing are all part of visiting a city one doesn't live in, and making frequent stops for snacks is another.  When we finally made our way back to Inner sunset, we made a stopover at Nopalito located on one of the side street of of Irving. 
The idea was just to have a ligth snack before dinner, but the smell of freshly made tortillas made our appetites rumble!  We didn't realize what exactly we had stumbled across until we sat down and the gracious waiters greeted and welcomed us warmly.  A sustainable organic Mexican kitchen is there tag line, and by the set-up of the operations and demeanor of the staff, it was evident.  The kitchen staff were making everything from scratch with products sourced from local markets.  It had a reall mom and pop feel to it, but the decor was modern and clean. 

Its a shame we only came from a small snack, because the the vibe and food was on point.  A couple of us shared the Carne Asada with Nopales and Queso Fresco with a pasilla negro salsa.  The taste was authentic and as fresh as could be. The noplaes themselves added so much texture and flavor to the tacos, similar to aspargus with a slightly bitter undertone.   Combined with the mild unaged white cheese and the smokey taste of the salsa, it was an explosion of flavors!
Pasion is in every way modern latin cuisine which was a popular type cuisine on this trip.  Conveniently located on Irving Street, my hostess with the mostess friend Priya was excited to share with us her favorite neighborhood spot.  Spotting it on my early morning walk, it was quaint and cute, as a "local" spot should be.  When our group of 6 finally arrived at this independently owned and operated eatery, we were pleased to find a buzz that only the best of restaurants could create. 

Smiling faces and tables full of food is what you want to see in a restaurant.  As we explored the menu, we found several scrumptious choices, it really as difficult to make a selection.  Instead, we saved ourselves the trouble and pretty much ordered a little bit of everything to understand the scope of food we were enjoying.

We started the "Nuevo Latino" meal off with the quientessential ceviche.  The menu had  five different choices, we opted for the trio including the Tuna, Halibut, Salmon combination...WOW!  Each of the ceviches were extremely well seasoned and beautifully presented.  But theceviche campechano particularly stood out becuase of the truffled Leche de Tigre  We even ordered a side of plantain chips to accompany these tropical treats, which was the perfect vehicle to indulge in this seafood delicacy and also added a little crunch factor.


Our dynamic group all ordered various menu items, all of which were executed well, however, I am highlighting only two.  I have noticed that there has been a recent love affair with lamb lately.  It is often a featured item on many American restaurant menus over the standard steak dish, and this is very exciting to see.  It demonstrates a range of proteins as well as culinary uses and techniques that diversifies the eating experience.    The Seco de Cordero or braised lamb shank with a cilantro broth, pickled red onions, and green beans was a hearty serving.  Colorful and pretty, it was also accompanied by a chicpea *Tacu Tacu!
*Tacu Tacu is an Afro-Peruvian specialty, usually made with leftover rice and beans, but in this case chicpeas.  It is formed into a pancake and then pan fried.  Served with a thin slice of steak and fried egg, this was considered a hearty meal for many for the African slaves who were brought over to the region. 
The final dish of the evening was the Pescado a lo Macho.  This gorgeous medley of shelfish encircled by the whole fried dorado all on top of the yellow garlic cream sauce was a satisfying dish.  The contrast of textures and powerful aroma of this seafood dish were all so memorable.  Even the sauce, which was described as creamy, was flavorful, but not heavy.  It compliemented the rest of the dish beautifully.

Jun 16, 2013

The Best of the West Coast (Part 1-LA)

 Upon arriving in LA, I was famished.  The combination of several delays and airport drama caused my flight to be stuck on the tarmac for an extended period of time.  After around three hours of waiting around while seated on the airplane, the captain informed us we would not be flying out that day, disappointed, disgruntled, and hungry all the passengers, including myself started making alternative plans.  Half an hour later the captain made an announcement we would in fact be flying out! It was great news to hear, but we had already been sitting for four hours, and had another six hours in flight.....with NO food.  This was my worst nightmare come true.  

Unfortunately, there was nothing that could be done other than to stick out with the granola bars and pray for some tail wind to LA.  Counting the minutes until we reached our destination, I couldn't have been happier to touch the ground.  I hustled to collect my luggage and contained my excitement for arriving in the fabulous West Coast as I was greeted by my friend at the airport.  The only thought running through my mind at this point was FEED ME.  Luckily just outside of LAX was the famous In-n-Out Burger I had heard so much about.  Kicking the diet and any regrets for not eating healthy, we entered the iconic eatery. 

Based on recommendations I went for the double double* "Animal style".  This hunk of a burger contained two slices of cheese, two patties, plus the extras!  It could have been the fact that I was absolutely starving, or the fact that everyone who makes a trip to the West Coast raves about these bad boys.....whatever the reason behind all the hype,  it was a damn good burger.

"Animal Style" is one of the most popular "secret" styles; in addition to the standard toppings, Animal Style burgers include pickles, extra spread, grilled onions, and mustard fried onto each meat patty. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In-N-Out_Burger_products)

As commercial as The Grove is, we were fortunate to come across some decent eats there.  Aside from the Farmer's Market Institution there, we dined at the French Bistro,  Morels.  It was a sunny Sunday afternoon, so a Brunch menu was appropriate, and aside form the fruit bowl, everything else hit the spot.
A classic Niciouse salald is the perfect lunch item on a warm sunny day. The generous serving of anchovies on top added that extra punch to this light and flavorful French favorite!
 I enjoyed the Crab Cakes Benedict.  This is my go-to item on any Brunch menu.  However, if you are a crab afficionado like myself, be weary of where you order this dish from.  The quality and freshness of the crab is imperative for this dish to work.  You want to see the jumbo lump crab meat, and nothing besides a little seasoning and light crust.  The Hollandaise is also an important element, and you can tell when this sauce is done the right way.  It's a bit thicker and smoother than the one below, and usually much deeper in color, as the main components are egg yolks and butter.  The sauce wasn't perfect, but it was tasty, so I enjoyed the dish regardless.....
Sno con Amor are organic artisan snow cones with flavors like coconut, pineapple-lime, and watermelon-basil how could you go wrong.  Cool and refreshing on those Sunny California days, not only is this concept stellar, but the branding and aesthetic of it are all really kitsch.  We came across this little set-up at the Anthropologie shop in The Grove, which was crawling with other small pop-up stalls promoting the small businesses in the area. 
We also came across the famous Magee's House of Nuts at the Original Farmer's Market adjacent to The Grove.  Operating since 1917, this place is an institution.  They have long been recognized for the quality of fresh nuts and nut products, but most well known for their peanut butter. The machine they had set-up was also antique, and churned the peanut butter out as they had done in the old days. 

 On our way to the LACMA we decided we needed a little lunch to tie us over before we entered the Stanley Kubrick exhibition.  Thanks to YELP we were able to locate this little gem en route to our destination! Mario's Peruvian and Seafood in Mid-Wilshire was exactly what we wanted, a solid meal, and excellent value for money! The ceviche was fresh and flavorful and fish fry had a spicy wholesome kick that tantalized our taste buds!
Tapping into the adventurous side of things, we decided to go on a little hike in the Hollywood hills.  The gorgeous weather, and breathtaking views really built up our appetites.  Luckily in the area (Los Feliz) not far from where we were, was the hole in the wall Yen Sushi and Sake Bar.  It was one of those places you imagine celebrities go to for a nice quiet lunch.  It's unpretentious, but classic Japanese ambiance make it an inviting atmosphere.  The fantastic quality of  sushi came in large quantities, and because we came straight from a work out session, we ate our money's worth!

For $12, this Spicy Tuna Bowl was chock full of the freshest Ahi grade tuna coated in a spicy ginger dressing and accompanied by some fresh and crunchy vegetables.  This could actually suffice as one's lunch, but my fiend and I thought we should explore more of the menu items.

We also got the Hamachi sashimi, delicately sliced and served with a fresh jalapeno round along with a touch of sweet soy.  The balance of flavors was precise in this perfect little bite.

A trip to a sushi restaurant wouldn't be complete without a couple of Maki rolls.  Of the numerous varieties we got, all were tasty and as fresh as can be!  The standard of Japanese joints in LA are a cut above the rest.   
After meeting several foodies in the LA area, we were recommended a couple of choice places to check out.  This fantastic artisan shop in Silverlake was one of them! Appropriately named Say Cheese, we decided the best way to enjoy these gourmet delicacies was at a picnic in the Getty! So we planned our day and menu and made our selection once we arrived there.  The cheese monger helped us make our decision my recommending his personal favorites and even sharing generous samples.

Our faves were the Old Amsterdam Gouda, 6 month Manchego, truffled Brie, Humboldt Fog Goats Cheese.  We made our selections and headed over to Trader Joe's right next door to pick up the rest of our picnic spread!
 I think many passerby's were envious of our display of Sandwiches, Salads, Cheese, and Fruits!  We thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful sunshine and breathtaking views views of the city as we sat on our yellow and white striped blanket indulging in our feast.     
 On another eventful evening, we passed by Barbrix in Silverlake for a little apperitivo.  The barkeep was friendly and informative and shared his knowledge of food and drink gracefully with us.  Event hough we had no intentions to eat (dinner reservations at Osteria Mozza for later that evening) he mentioned the mouth watering appetizer special to us. With avocado, sea urchin, seaweed salad, and pink peppercorns, it was hard to resist, so we decided to share an order! Salty, sweet, smooth, and crunchy...this little dish had all the elements you look for in a starter. 
This restaurant really deserves a post of it's own.  I have to say, I have never really thought twice about the "Celebrity Chef" restaurant circle, as most end up being over priced and overrated.  But there is something about Mr. Batali that makes anything stamped with his name synonymous with good quality.

We drove by the restaurant several times over the course of the week, and even the branding was cool.  With a more casual pizzeria concept right next to the fine dining concept, there was a buzz on this street corner like no place else I had seen in LA.  Not just a place to be seen (like many other venues in the city), Osteria Mozza drew in a crowd that were there for purely good food.  

The night we dined at Osteria the restaurant was completely packed! In fact it was was so busy, even after we checked in and follow-up with the hostess multiple times, they gave away our table!  A bit disgruntled at first, they quickly made an effort to remedy the situation and seated us in a busy corner of the dining room.  Upon being seated, we were immediately served the Buffalo Mozzarella Caprese, as a "we're sorry to keep you waiting" treat,  which is an excellent show of the hospitality.
Happy that we were acknowledged by the management for our patience, we went ahead and ordered the meal.  With so many exciting items popping out at us, the choices were difficult to make.  I have simply highlighted some of my favorites, as there were just way too many tasty treats this evening.

The amberjack and sea urchin crudo goes to the top of list.  The unique combination of the succulent meaty fish topped with the sweet velvety texture of the sea urchin.  Sitting in a plate of chili vinaigrette, the oil and acid broke down elements of this usually tougher type of fish which resulted in a textural harmony.
One of the Primi  items we ordered was the Tagliolini with Maine Lobster and Roasted Sea Urchin.  This delicate pasta plate had it ALL going on.  The epitome of decadence,  each ingredient stood out individually, but the came together to compliment one another in this beautifully comprised dish
One of the Secondi we enjoyed was the Butter Braised Halibut.  This fish was cooked to perfection and literally melted in our mouth like butter.  The seasoning was on point and the flavor of the fish was divine.  A well executed dish that reveled in its simplicity. 
Before we hit the road on our excursion to San Francisco, we made sure to make a stop at the Heirloom LA food truck with so much on offer and served in the perfect takeaway container, this made for the ultimate road trip snack.  They are best known for their Lasagna cupcakes, which I didn't quite understand at first, but once we bit into the perfect little packets of gourmet goodness, it all made sense.

 If you happen to find yourself in LA, make it your mission to locate one of these food trucks!  The trend has really hit the streets, so you may be spoiled for choice, but I can vouch for this one as the food is fresh and uber tasty, you won't be disappointed.