Sunday, November 1, 2009
I was one of the lucky bloggers invited to the Foodbuzz Community Table Dinner at bushi-tei. It’s a Japanese-French restaurant located in Japantown. I’ve walked by there many, many times before but never had I yet to try until last Tuesday. The look of the towering, broad, spotless glass window with a minimalist design and creaseless, perfectly white table cloth conveyed luxury. I kept waiting for a special occasion to try it out. But then, just today I found out that it wasn’t outrageously expensive as I assumed.
There were about 15 to 20 bloggers and Foodbuzz staff members that night and we sat around the huge long table which was beautifully decorated with stones and candles – again very simple yet elegant. The wood pieces of the wall inside the restaurant actually come from a real Japanese building that was built in 1863 in Nagano, Japan. They were carefully removed during the demolition of Shimizu estate in Matsumoto City. The pillar on this wall was apparently the main supporting pillar of the house which indicates the year it was built, as well as the master builder’s name. Being surrounded by such a classic masterpiece is truly an amazing feeling.
Takumi Matsuba, the owner of bushi-tei, along with chef, Seiji Wakabayashi, designed the restaurant. Wakabayashi trained at Kiachi (Aoyama, Tokyo), then worked at Spago in L.A. and Ondine in Sausalito before becoming an executive chef at bushi-tei.
The dinner began with popping corks out of Graham Beck sparkling wine from South Africa followed by an hors d’oeuvre. Cheers!
Then the breads came. I seriously thought that this was dessert! Doesn’t it look like cookies and a scoop of ice cream? How creative! The breads are also made at the restaurant and baked with crunchy brown rice.
The first course was Ankimo Torchon (monk fish liver) with Snow Crab Salad, Spicy Fish Roe-Potato Mousseline, Julienne Vegetables and Parsley Coulis, accompanied by Domaine Wm Fevre Champs Royal Chablis.
I usually don’t like liver of any kind but this monk fish liver was absolutely DIVINE! I couldn’t believe how liver can taste so good – definitely an eye opening experience for me. The wine was great too. This Chablis was 100% Chardonnay, dry, medium body and had a hint of citrus. It was so good that I’m going to look for a bottle once I finish my other wines at home.
The main course was Slow Roasted Natural Beef Tenderloin with Matsutake Mushroom Risotto, English Peas, Pinot Noir Reduction & Espresso Oil, paired with Expression 39 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir.
The beef tenderloin was more than half an inch thick! I think you can see the tenderness from looking at this picture, too. Needless to say, it was amazing.
Finally the dessert! It was Peach Melba with Daiginjo Sake-Kabosu Cube, paired with Gonzalez Byass Solera 1847 Oloroso Sherry. Daiginjo is a high quality sake made with rice that are at least 50% polished which create smooth, clean taste. The jellied cube is the Sake cube and the citrus fruit underneath is Kabosu with (I think) raspberry sauce. The Peach Melba part consisted of sliced peaches, vanilla ice cream and almond cake. I’m not a big fan of dessert wine plus I had to drive home after the dinner; I could only take a few sips of the sherry. It was full bodied, sweet and bit spicy and frankly it wasn’t bad at all, besides it smelled wonderful! I bet it can make amazing desserts.
The whole dinner experience was incredible. I enjoyed the first bite to the very last and all four wines that accompanied the dishes. Also, I was not aware of the Bay Bridge closure until the dinner was over, so I was able to fully enjoy the dinner without having to worry about anything. And even though I had to sit in traffic that wasn’t moving at all for almost 45 minutes (in fact everyone turned off the engine and head lights), the wines made me feel so good that it didn’t get angry or frustrated at all. (Don’t worry, I was not drunk!) Now that I know how great their food is, I will most certainly go back again and try their other dishes.
Huge thanks Foodbuzz and bushi-tei for hosting the dinner! More photos are available at Flickr