It’s been an absolute dream of mine to dine at Atelier Crenn (3127 Fillmore St.) and I felt incredibly lucky to be able to celebrate my birthday there last month. If you have not seen Netflix’s Chef’s Table (Season 2, Episode 3), stop and watch it immediately (full disclosure: you may cry). You’ll be taken on an incredible journey learning more about Chef Dominique Crenn, what inspires her cooking and all the effort that goes into maintaining her restaurants. Chef Dominque Crenn is the first female chef in the U.S. to earn two Michelin stars and it is well earned. Each dish is a feast for your eyes, as much as it is for your stomach, and the service is impeccable.
The meal starts with a poem, which is your narrative for the night’s menu. All guests are welcomed with their first bite, chef’s take on a Kir Breton. White cocoa butter surrounds a sphere of apple cider and it’s topped with crème de cassis. Chef Dominique’s Bretagne roots really shine throughout the night as there were a lot of seafood courses. Her take on fish and chips were fried potato chips dusted with seaweed and served with swordfish marrow in a cucumber sauce. I really loved her tomato memory (watch the Netflix episode and you’ll understand the reference), which were small tarts filled with tomato compote and roe. On the side, different peeled tomatoes were served with tomato dust and tomato raisins. One of my favorite dishes of the night was Japanese-inspired. Delicate uni is served over toasted Japanese rice mixed with seaweed and sesame seeds. What truly elevated this dish was the white wine, shallot and fennel broth. The sauce was so clear and flavorful.
Next came caviar with rice cream and shiso leaf oil, served with delicate root vegetables. The homemade brioche bread with A5 wagyu beef fat butter and herbed butter is the definition of decadence. I had to refrain from devouring the whole loaf so that there’d be room for the rest of the courses. Grilled abalone (not pictured) came with egg yolk jam, seaweed dusting and grilled oyster cream. The abalone was so tender and the waiter let us in on the secret– beating the abalone for 30 minutes to an hour.
Blue Lobster Aiguilettes Served with Summer Cabbage and Frozen Raspberries
Pierre in Hong Kong is the famed restaurant inside the Mandarin Oriental, coming from French chef Pierre Gagnaire. Years ago, I had his six-course dinner at his restaurant in Las Vegas, Twist. It was an absolutely sublime meal and I was excited to repeat this experience at his two Michelin star restaurant in Hong Kong.
Beautiful Plate of Amuse Bouche and Bread
I came for an early birthday dinner celebration and partook in the seven-course summer tasting menu. The service was superb and they even gave me a menu to take home (perfect for my blog!). I apologize for the low-lighting photos. I didn’t want to disturb everyone’s meal with my camera flash going off at every course.
Summer Tasting Menu by Pierre Gagnaire 2013
Crab meat, baby squids and cucumber coated with button mushroom jelly. Stuffed brioche with spider crab and grapefruit. Sardine infusion, olive oil sherbet.
Poached line-caught sea bass lightly salted with fresh herbs. Eggplant and coarsely chopped tomato; emulsified green bell pepper juice.
Borloti coco beans timbale thickened with velvety foie gras/green curry soup. Pan-sautéed girolle mushroom with fresh almond.
Blue lobster “aiguilettes” almost raw. Summer cabbage with parmesan/pistachio/frozen raspberry.
Roasted rump of veal flavoured with oregeno, sweet onion purée with smoked lard. Tiny artichoke poivrade, arugula and celery sticks. Minted garden peas ice cream.
Roasted goat cheese with rhubarb, elder flower jam/aged white balsamic vinegar. Fourme d’Ambert, stuffed Bergeron apricot with ricotta. Ossou-Iraty and aged Cantal, celeriac cream, Izarra granita.
I was caught off guard once and asked what was my favorite restaurant in the world or the best thing I’ve ever eaten. The first thing I could think of was L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Hong Kong. This is going to sound extremely pretentious but I’ve eaten at Joel Robuchon’s restaurants in Hong Kong, Paris and Las Vegas. But, Hong Kong wins out of the three.
Yes, L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon was awarded three Michelin stars, but the reason why I love this particular restaurant in Hong Kong is because they have MINI BREAD. At the beginning of the meal, they bring you a small bread basket full of mini croissants, bacon baguettes, cheese baguettes, apricot walnut bread, brioches… it’s a carb lover’s dream. In case you were wondering which one is my favorite, it’s the bacon baguette. The croissant is a close second.
The sight of this brings tears to my eyes
This bread is baked fresh every day in the restaurant’s own bakery. When I ate at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Paris, I was most excited about the mini bread. Imagine my shock and disappointment when the staff told me that the chef does not feel like he can make bread as good as the local boulangerie so the restaurant gets all of their baguettes from across the street.
Maine lobster salad with avocado coulis, tofu and lemon olive oil
Pan-seared sea scallops with baby leek, lemongrass and seaweed butter
Warm scallops with fresh vegetables, olives and sweet pepper mayonnaise
8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana opened in Shanghai in February 2012 and it is one of the hottest restaurants in town. I had to call three times before I could make a reservation and I finally succeeded when I made reservations over a week in advance. Originally hailing from Hong Kong, 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana is the only Italian restaurant outside of Italy that has Three Michelin Stars. Although Michelin has yet to produce a guide for Shanghai, I eagerly anticipate the day when the Shanghai location receives the same accolade.
Once my parents and I finished our jam packed Eastern Europe trip, we went straight to Paris for a few days. This fall, I’ll be attending a one-year MBA program in International Luxury Brand Management at ESSEC. I’m so glad that I was able to visit the campus, meet current students and sit in on a class. In all honesty, I was also anxiously anticipating all the amazing food that the City of Light has to offer!
Before heading to Paris, I had planned all my dinners and made reservations weeks beforehand. I cross referenced the May issue of Bon Appetit and David Lebovitz’s blog to try classic French food at its finest. I was excited to try Benoit, which is celebrating is 100 year anniversary this year. Benoit was bought by the famous Alain Ducasse in 2005 and is the only bistro is Paris with a Michelin star. Alain Ducasse collects Michelin stars like a woman collects purses. The man has 19 Michelin stars.
Fair warning: Benoit’s menu is completely in French with no English translations. Even with my basic knowledge of French, I struggled with the menu (because it was so specific with its culinary terms), but the waiters can speak English and are willing to explain everything to you.
Some of the Largest Escargots I’ve Ever Seen
Pate en Croute– Beautiful and Delicious
A Quarter of the Cassoulet. The Rest was in a Giant Pot.