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
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.
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: 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 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 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.
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.
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.
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: 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.
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...
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.
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