Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Los Angeles: The Milk Shop

The Milk Shop is an immensely popular bakery and ice cream parlour in downtown Los Angeles. I found the iconic desserts rather pedestrian, but here are some Samsung Galaxy S3 captures.

The iconic MILK sign.
The extensive menu features sundaes, ice cream sandwiches, shakes and floats, cakes, cookies, and other confections.
Blue velvet cake, blueberry chiffon cake with blueberry bits and white chocolate frosting. This is not a blue-colored red velvet cake which is buttermilk cake with cocoa and buttercream frosting.
Ooey gooey double chocolate cookies, an insanely heavy chocolate fudge cookie.
Cupcake in a cone. The general consensus is that these are awfully dry.

Red velvet cupcake, rich buttermilk cake with cocoa and sweet buttercream frosting. Only this was delectable.

Tres leches cake, a light and porous spongecake topped with vanilla cream, sitting in a vanilla bean milk bath. This was light and refreshing and rather unsugary.

Red velvet poppers, miniature red velvet cupcakes.

Overall, I found the desserts quite boring. I heard their ice cream sandwiches are enticing though.

The Milk Shop
7290 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036
Hours: Mon-Thurs, Sun 10am-10pm, Fri-Sat 10am-11pm

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Orange County: Ohshima

Ohshima is commonly regarded as the finest sushi restaurant in Orange County. It offers top quality seafood flown from Japan accompanied with friendly service and a pure environment. We enjoyed a variety of exquisitely prepared sushi and sashimi here. Captured with a Samsung Galaxy S3.

Live shrimp, served with shrimp caviar and a choice of deep fried heads or shrimp head soup. This was delightful. The shrimps were hugely portioned and lusciously creamy with a hint of sweetness. We were fortunate to have its roe as well, equally fresh with firm texture and soft brininess. The deep fried heads were divine. Perfectly textured and salted, like juicy soft-shelled crab.
Uni sashimi. Showcasing a luxurious creaminess and subtle sweetness, the sea urchin melted in my mouth instantly. Wonderful.

Clam sushi and scallop sushi. These were appetizing in their own ways. The clam was meaty and crisp, and the scallop was plump and creamy. Both were gently coated in ponzu sauce which did not mask their natural flavors.

Deluxe chirashi, a bed of vinegared rice topped with salmon, albacore, hamachi, whitefish, halibut, scallop, uni, tuna, steamed shrimp, tomago, and salmon roe. This was delectable but safe. I recommend skipping it for the omasake.

Salmon, hamachi, and toro sashimi. The rich salmon and hamachi were pleasant. However, the toro and hamachi were nearly indistinguishable in texture, as the toro was not particularly luxurious. Its price tag was though.
Ankimo, steamed monkfish liver with hints of salt and sake. This Japanese delicacy was smooth and buttery, like velvety foie gras. It melted the moment it touched my tongue, showcasing a soft smokiness. Flawless--the highlight of our meal!

Kangaroo, appetizer with mushrooms. Australian kangaroo meat sautéed with mushrooms, on a bed of watercress, with an incredibly decadent and umami mushroom sauce. It arrived at our table sizzling and smelling like truffle heaven. The earthy dish was nicely complimented with a tangy citrus sauce. The kangaroo meat itself likened to gamey beef. An positively irresistable dish.

Apart from the underwhelming toro sashimi, everything here was top quality. Our experience at Ohshima was wonderful and we highly recommend it. Be sure to make reservations as seating is limited.
Ohshima Japanese Cuisine
1956 N. Tustin St., Orange, CA 92865
Hours: Tues-Fri 11:30am-2pm, Tues-Sat 5:30-10:30pm, Sun 5:30-10pm

Monday, March 11, 2013

Taipei: L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon

L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon is the name of seven French gourmet restaurants located in Toyko, Paris, Hong Kong, Las Vegas, Singapore, and most recently, Taipei. It is owned by world-renowned chef and restauranteur Joël Robuchon. His establishments share a total of 28 Michelin stars, the most of any chef in the world. L'Atelier which translates to "workshop," features an open kitchen, inviting guests to observe the preparation of dishes.

The contemporary red and black backdrop is uniform throughout Robuchon's establishments.

Lunch prixe fixes are set A for 980NT, set B for 2080NT, and set C for 2880NT. My dining companion and I both opted for set B which includes an amuse bouche, an appetizer, two entrees, a dessert, and coffee or tea with mignardises.

We began with breads from Salon de Thé de Joël Robuchon.

Amuse bouche. Duck foie gras with red porto wine and parmesan foam. A soft harmony of warm, umami flavors.

Le Homard du Maine, supplemented for 600NT. Maine lobster with guacamole and seasonal vegetables. The refreshing pairing of sweet, juicy lobster meat and crisp veggies were nicely tempured by the soft avocado. The ring of spice added a nice heat.

La Chataigne, chestnut soup with celery broth and chicken wing. Warming and invigorating.

La Napoleon, napoleon fish. The tender whitefish was served pan-seared in beurre blanc and over creamy mashed potatoes...
... with green celery foam and a delicate potato chip for texture. Simple and delicious.
Le Vivaneu. Steamed red snapper in a tomato broth...
... with garlic croutons and rouille. Rouille, made from olive oil, garlic, saffron, and chili peppers, is a common garnish to fish and fish stew. It added a much needed kick to the otherwise monotone dish.

Le Pot au Feu, a classic French stew. Braised beef with carrots, turnips, and spices in its own broth. The ingredients were high quality, but the dish itself tasted ordinary.  
La Broche du Jour, rotisserie of the day. The fire-roasted pork was incredibly juicy, tender, and flavorful with a sweet caramelized rind. It was paired with parmesan foam and savory unskinned potato wedges. Miniature smoked bacon and other teasing pork bits hid themselves throught the dish. It was accompanied with...
... mashed potatoes whipped from equal parts butter and potato. This was luxuriously rich, fragrant and velvety, and stickily solid. La Broche du Jour took a traditional cooking methods to an outstanding new level.
La Poire. A harmony of pear confit infused in red wine, vanilla panna cotta, and blackcurrent sorbet. This was a beautiful symphony of flavors and textures. Soft honeyed pear, fluffy vanilla pudding, tart cassis sorbet, brittle fruit candy, nutty caramel, tangy blackcurrent sauce, and buttery vanilla cream. Exquisite, delicate, and irresistable. Possibly one of the best desserts I have tasted!

Close up. A scoop of blackcurrent sorbet, grapey wine-infused pear confit, a delicate fruit crisp, thick blackcurrent syrup, and nuts on rich vanilla cream.

A globe of smooth vanilla panna cotta coated in caramel and topped with edible gold leaf.

Les Fruits Frais, pineapple sorbet in lemongrass nectar with fresh fruits. This was as refreshing as it sounds, and pleasantly sweet rather than tart.

To conclude the meal, we had a rich latte...

... and a cup of tea...

... paired with a duet of caneles from the Salon. It had a thick caramelized crust and soft custard center, showcasing fragrant vanilla and rum flavors. Absolutely delightful!

L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon
Bellavita Department Store 5F, 28 Songren Rd., Xinyi District, Taipei
Hours: 11:30am-2:30pm, 6:00pm-10:00pm