Saturday, March 13, 2010

Maison Akira: Punks On Pâté

I don't have much old school friends that are really into food. Most of the time, I know more about their mom's homemade food than they know themselves. I mean, there always is drunk talk about "going out to go eat one day maaan!" whenever we hang out. And one time, I did take one of my vato loco friend's out for some Dim Sum once, but most of their money spending goes towards more altering sources of fun...

Then there is the homie Dan Barr. I first met the guy at a Guelaguetza dinner one of my readers from out of town had organized. I knew the guy was not like the rest when he knew the difference between a Huarache and a Memela. We've chilled out ever since.

dan the man
Dan the Man

He told me his old man had given him a $100 certificate to Maison Akira a while back, and it was in our post-'mosh'-pit daze after a Fear and D.I show one night that he remembered about it, saying he was saving until it was ready...and it was time.

We decided to incorporate an early dinner into our crackin' Friday night this last weekend. I was pretty damn excited, the Kyoto-born Chef Akira trained under Chef Joel Robuchon for a good amount of years. Hence, his classical French themed menu with an innovative, deft Japanese flair.

ambiance shot
A Little Fine Dining Before A Night Of Ultra Violence?

Mohawked and patched out, we were ready for an under $100 certificate feast to remember for the rest of our lives. Tonight, instead of power chord anthems, our theme music for the night was a fairly "ambient collection of jaunty, spring season classical" ballads, courtesy of Maison's smooth Muzak.

frozen butter
Frozen Butter: With Essence of Food Storage Fridge

Butter was colder than a mo'fo, with a lingering background taste of an economy food storage fridge. Not the Plugra, extra rich stuff I had envisioned. Good thing I'm not a butter snob.

Then came the small-portion onslaught. The menu was recently redeveloped to include a "Tapas" sized option, that was basically half the portion and price. We took this approach for every dish tonight to maximize our eating diversity.

First up, was an tiny Amuse of Salmon Rillete with a Sweet, Piquillo Pepper Sauce.

salmon spread
Salmon Rillete: Such a Tease!

A dolled up Salmon Salad, hmm...ok. Tasty though meager, that Piquillo sauce was like Ketchup without the Vinegar-y twang.

duck pate
Duck Pâté: Umami...Straight Up ($7)

What's French Food without a forcemeat, right? This one was quite meaty with immense dark-meat nook and cranny chunks of the fowl. Green peppercorns were tame and engaging.

bambi carpaccio
Venison Carpaccio: I Killed Bambie's Mom

Served with a Wasabi Aioli Sauce and Petite Salad ($9), this wowed both of us with its tenderness. Was unlike any Venison we've had before, not gamy in the least and that emulsified Aioli linked with its leanness to round out the rich experience.

lobster chunk soup
Brandy Flamed Maine Lobster Bisque: Rich, Rich, Rich!

Dan has a soft spot for Lobster anything. This soup packed a briny punch, Lobster Bisque if there was ever a thing man. It seemed like a roux-base, with no cream. Hence, the drowning-in-the-beach unadulterated taste.

scallops with zucchinni flan
Zucchini Flan N Canadian Scallops: Tasty Eyy

Sautéed Canadian Scallops with King Oyster Mushroom Sympatic and Zucchini Basil Flan($16) I love me some Scallops. And these were creamy, sweet and tasting of a fresh shuckling . The creamy, green Flan's texture was a molecule away from the scallops texture, both creamy and sweet, a magnificent side for the shellfish.

smoked duck
Smoked Duck: Blazing That Duck Out

Pan-Roasted Smoked Duck Breast & Duck Leg Confit Parmentier in a Calvados Sauce($18). The smoke was deep and complex, enough to appease the bacon loving masses and lovers of juicy, rare cooked fatty birds. The Parmentier was pleasant too. The chef really loved those king oyster 'shrooms though, used it without abandon through out the night!

And last but not near the savory least.

grilled miso honey seabass
Miso Marinated Grilled Chilean Sea Bass: A Bad Ass Savory Clincher Indeed

Miso Marinated Grilled Chilean Sea Bass with Grilled Ratatouille in a Honey Lemon Jus($19). Chef Akira's esteemed signature dish that he served to the Emperor & Empress of Japan during their visit to Los Angeles in 1994 was a bad ass savory clincher indeed. Buttery was an understatement here. Not as bold as the Nobu typical Black Cod preparation but in fact, the exact opposite. Subtly seasoned, minutely sweet and downright moist. The grilled Ratouille was served like a pilaf on top of extra wide grains of rice that were like whatever. But that fish!

And I nearly did a back flip when I saw a Baked Alaska's on their dessert menu. I've only gawked at pictures and read about this super-elusive dessert since I first started with food. You know what they say about your first...

my first baked alaska! (green tea)
A Baked Alaska: Four and A Half Years in The Making

Akira's version was revamped with a generous amount of well balanced, green tea ice cream and a tangy Rasberry Sauce ($12). And hell, even flambeed table side, literally. The waiter pours a couple of ladle-fulls Mandarin Liqueur that he torches up himself onto the thick, layer of soft peaked Meringue. This creates a rather pleasurable charred s'more like texture to mix with the chilled green tea ice cream and thin sponge cake inside.

green tea baked alaska
Igloo Destruction is My Middle Name

Dan and I don't really remember the rest of that night much but I'm sure we will never forget that blue ember burning Alaska...

Maison Akira Restaurant
713 East Green Street
Pasadena, CA 91101-2111
(626) 796-9501

Maison Akira in Los Angeles

Maison Akira on Urbanspoon


weezermonkey said...

OMG, that Baked Alaska pic is INSANE!

glutster said...

Weezermonkey: Thanks! I was snapping it like crazy, I mean...flamed tableside!

Christina said...

Now I want to flambe something!!! And wasabi aioli! I like how they had a wide offering of tapa portions.

burumun said...

Nice, Javi! :) green tea baked alaska, eh? Interesting.

I didn't realize they changed their menu to tapas-style. I guess everyone's doing that these days ... good to hear that you enjoyed most of the dishes though!

Gastronomer said...

I've always wondered about Maison Akira. Thank you for the write up and food porn.

I hate to harp, but no more Chilean sea bass, k? See:

glutster said...

Christina: Seriously! Food and Burning Stuff...ahh, the good things in life :)

burumun: Yeah, green tea Alaska definitely set the bar high for this year's desserts!

Exile Kiss said...

Hi Glutster,

Thanks for the review on Maison Akira. I haven't been back in years. It sounds like they still have some dishes worth going for. Definitely love your Baked Alaska pic. :)

Eddie Lin said...

Hey, Javi, why didn't I get the call to be your BFF guy dinner date? That food looked fantastic! Yeah, stay away from the Chilean Sea Bass and Sei Whale too.

RCakeWalk said...

Gluster, you must have a new camera... that pic of the flaming Baked Alaska is really fantastic! The whole meal looks like it wasn't too bad either. Nice job!

glutster said...

gastronomer: ok, oath as of now!

eddie lin: you think you can still hang or what? ha ha. and, how does Whale taste like? huh, huh?


Yeah, I finally gave in and bought one, or, got payed by Saveur and finally was able to get one! ha ha.
now, to learn how to use it!

glutster said...

Exile Kiss:

dude, thanks for taking the time to read my stuff!

PS. let's go to that Izakaya place soon man, still have it in my mind!

hotpinkmanolo said...

This is my sister's FAVORITE restaurant! For a few years every birthday she had, we HAD to go to Maison Akira.

Ravenous Couple said...

this is on our to go list in pasadena!

That's Ron said...

wow!!! baked alaska

glutster said...

ravenous couple, hot pink, ron:

yeah man, I was just as surprised with the sheer badassness of their food as you guys were!