Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Bazaar (Los Angeles, CA) [2]

The Bazaar
465 S La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048
Tue 12/02/2008, 08:30p-12:10a

In my post on The Bazaar's opening night (which you may want to read for context), I gave the place a somewhat mixed review, pointing out the good, and the bad. Now, not unexpectedly, everyone focused in on the negative aspects of the review (human nature I suppose), and I received quite a bit of flak for it. In fact, the posting made its way to none other than Chef José Andrés himself. So imagine my surprise when I get an email a week later from Andrés stating that he wanted to meet for a "conversation ... about creativity and cooking."

I was surprised (and flattered) that a chef of his caliber would actually take the time to read my blog. Andrés later went on to say that although I could've been easily ignored, I may represent the thoughts of hundreds of other dinners who feel the same way, but who would never write or otherwise express their opinions in a public forum.

I eagerly set a meeting date for the following Tuesday, and asked to bring along a few other people, including some who were with me on opening night: Ryan from Tangmeister, Brian and Will from FoodDigger, and Brian's wife Jan. Throughout much of the night, Andrés expounded heavily about his views on gastronomy, but first, we'll get started with a review of the food and drinks, which were all taken care of by the restaurant.

Andrés didn't want pictures taken, not for "copyright" issues, but because he thought they'd draw attention away from the conversation. Unfortunately, I was unable to get a clarification on the controversial photo policy, though it appeared that the rules are becoming less stringent thankfully.

We began the night at Bar Centro, so I'll start with a recounting of the cocktails we had, which were superb overall.
  • Given my penchant for mojitos, I started with the Magic Mojito, which I had actually intended to order on my first visit. The drink is fairly similar to a classic mojito, except that it's poured from a shaker into a martini glass covered with cotton candy; the candy then dissolves as it contacts the liquid. The drink had a bit of heat initially, followed by the sweetness imparted by the cotton candy. Quite good, though I still preferred The Bazaar's rendition of the classic mojito, which I was able to sample again this particular night.
  • Next, we had a Nitro Caipirinha, which uses liquid nitrogen to reduce a standard caipirinha (Cachaça, sugar, lime) into a slush-like state. This had a great sweet/sour interplay, a bracing coldness, and an amazing texture; we were all expecting something akin to granité, but instead, what we got was something with a surprisingly smooth, creamy texture, more like sorbet. Andrés later explained that the method used to create the cocktail was the only way to freeze alcohol (pure alcohol has a freezing point of -173°F versus -321°F for liquid nitrogen). Excellent.
  • I then sampled the Americano, a cocktail created in the 1860s consisting of Campari, sweet vermouth, and soda. The Bazaar version stays true to the original for the most part, but floats a layer of orange foam on top of the drink. The foam added sweetness to the sour/bitter taste of the rest of the cocktail, and I also loved the contrast between the frothiness of the foam and the bottom layer of liquid. I think I'm going to have to order Americanos more often now!
  • I believe Andrés ordered the Ultimate Gin & Tonic for himself, which unfortunately, I didn't get to try. It did look tasty though.
While at Bar Centro, we also had a bit to eat. Unfortunately, I didn't take home menus, so I may not have the "official" names of some of the dishes. Note that all the dishes were ordered by Andrés himself. Items that I hadn't tried before are marked with asterisks.
  • * Potato chip "patatas bravas" with salsa brava (spicy tomato sauce) and alioli (garlic and olive oil). These were pretty much potato chips served in a patatas bravas style, similar to a recipe from Andrés' mother. A bit simplistic for me, but good for snacking with drink in hand.
  • Jamón Ibérico. We started with this on our first visit, and once again, it did not disappoint. Very tender, very rich, very good. Interestingly, Andrés mentioned that the top jamón slicer in the world was in the restaurant, instructing the staff.
  • 'Pa amb' tomaquet / toasted sliced rustic bread brushed with fresh tomatoes. This was meant as an accoutrement to the jamón, with the flavors of tomato and olive oil coming to the fore. Straightforward, but effective.
  • Croquetas de pollo / chicken and béchamel fritters. This was one of my favorite items efore, and they were just as good this time, with their warm, oozing, creamy centers of chicken. In regard to this dish, Andrés mentioned that Californians seem to like fried items, and that they tend to be the top sellers on the menu. I can't say that I'm too surprised.
  • * Steamed brioche buns with trout roe and crème fraîche. I loved the interplay between the soft, mild bun (which were not unlike Chinese bao), the salty tang of the caviar, and the subtle sourness of the crème. Very good.
After a while, we transferred to a table at Rojo y Blanca, in fact, the very same table we sat at last time. How appropriate.

We also moved on to wine from cocktails, and started with a bottle of Txakoli from Getaria (didn't get the specifics unfortunately), a region in Basque Country. I've never had Txakoli before, but really enjoyed its subtle sparkling nature, light weight, and high acidity. I'm going to have to look for this more often from now on.

Next, we opened up a bottle of the Bodegas Vega-Sicilia Ribera del Duero Único that Brian was kind enough to bring. Compared to the 1996 we had at Totoraku, it was tighter, showing a more floral and less fruit-driven nose, higher acidity on the palate, more smoke and spice, and a longer, more lingering finish.

Getting back to the food now, we sampled many of the same dishes as on our first visit, as well as a few new ones thrown in for good measure.
  • Aceitunas con anchoas y piquillos / world's best stuffed green olives with piquillo and anchovies. Andrés mentioned that this was his favorite item on the menu, and went into great detail in how they're the "best" in the world, describing how each is hand-made with only top-quality anchovies. I don't doubt the care and skill that went into them, but I still wasn't a huge fan. The anchovy was a lot more apparent this time around though.
  • Sea urchin / with pipirrana and Andalusian vegetables. This was one of my favorites before, and remained so. An excellent specimen of uni, heightened by the use of pipirrana (a fine mixture of onion, tomato, and cucumber), which added a refreshing tang and awesome crunch to the dish.
  • Watermelon tomato skewers / with Pedro Ximénez reduction and sexy tomato seeds. One of the stars last time, and still sweet, succulent, and yes, sexy.
  • Tortilla de patatas 'al momento' / classic potato omelet prepared at the moment. Again, I like the flavor profile here, but would prefer it if the potatoes were a bit firmer and more apparent. I'm a big fan of potatoes in general, so I think this dish does have a lot of potential. I wish I could've tried the "new style" preparation for comparison.
  • Papas Islas Canarias / salty wrinkled potatoes with "mojo verde." A different type of potato was used this time: smaller, sweeter, softer, and purple. I'd say that they didn't stand on their own as well, but integrated better with the tangy mojo sauce. Quite nice.
  • * Tempura avocado / with airy mayonnaise. I rather liked this. I was expecting something firm, as with most tempuras. Instead, the hard exterior shell gave way to a creamy, soft interior, almost as if the avocado wasn't cooked at all. Good on its own, but even better with the sauce. As an aside, Andrés talked about how tempura is actually not a Japanese creation, but was introduced to the country in the mid-sixteenth century by Spanish missionaries. Even the word comes from the Spanish "tempora," referring to Lent, when eating meat was verboten.
  • Buñuelos de bacalao / codfish fritters with honey aioli. I complained about the fishiness and mushiness of this dish previously. Fortunately, the taste this time was much milder, but I'm still not a fan of the fritters' texture. Andrés did explain that the softness is part of the traditional preparation, preferred by most Spaniards.
  • Alitas de pollo / boneless chicken wings with green olive purée. I liked the chicken on its own, but the addition of the heady olive purée and minty greens took the dish to another level. Very nice.
  • Olives Ferran Adrià / liquid 'olives.' These were exactly the same as last time. I give credit to Adrià for inventing the spherification process, but I feel that more needs to be done with the "olives" here. The novelty has sort of worn off, and many chefs are using the technique today, which is actually a relatively simple reaction between sodium alginate and calcium chloride.
  • Japanese eggplant / with soy sauce-miso glaze and yogurt. This was one of my most disliked dishes last time, and although I still don't love it, I'm glad to report that it's been markedly improved. The amount of glaze has been lessened significantly, and the yogurt allowed to come more to the fore. Andrés stated that the dish's flavor "density" had been reduced as to not be so overwhelming, using a colorful analogy of sticking your hand in a 500-degree oven versus a 500-degree deep-fryer (the "density," not the temperature, is what burns you). Texture-wise, the eggplant was much softer and easier to eat. Andrés explained that it takes a long time to get this type of consistency from eggplant.
  • * Unknown eggplant dish. Unfortunately I don't know the name of the dish, consisting of extremely soft, tender, thin strips of eggplant, imbued with an interesting, smoky, vegetal flavor.
  • Stewed baby carrots / with coconut sorbet and ginger: This was one dish that didn't change much from last time. I still thought that the amalgam of carrot, ginger, and coconut clashed too strongly for my tastes. I think a base other than carrots would be appropriate here.
  • * Dashi 'linguini' / with tomato, lemon and caviar. A very interesting dish. The noodles themselves had a very Japanese-like essence, which was then combined with the brininess of caviar, and the sourness of lemon. This was a favorite dish of Andrés, and he claimed he could eat a whole plate of it, as with a normal pasta. Brian disagreed.
  • Pisto Manchego con flor de calabaza / sautéed peppers, zucchini, onions, eggplant and tomatoes with squash blossoms and egg. Andrés proceeded to mix up everything in the dish to a roughly homogeneous consistency, something we didn't do last time. A pleasant dish, much the same as before.
  • Carrilleras de ternera con naranja / braised veal cheeks with California oranges. Last time, we had the same dish, but with pork instead of veal. I found the veal more tender and milder in flavor, so the offsetting balance provided by the oranges was not quite as crucial here. I preferred it to the pork, though Ryan thought the opposite.
  • Avocado wrapped tuna. Tuna and avocado is a popular pairing and faired pretty well here. The mild flavor and creaminess of the two ingredients complemented each other, and the combination was set off by the use of a salt topping.
  • Japanese baby peaches / with persimmon, yogurt and olive oil. This was similar to what we had before, but the addition of persimmon added more sweetness to the dish, and also a tougher, chewier texture to contrast the softness of the peaches.
Now it was time for dessert, which unfortunately we didn't have room for last time. I was really looking forward to these.
  • * Flan with berries and cream. This was a just about perfect preparation of flan, made even better by the addition of rich cream and tart berries. Traditional, but that's all that's needed here.
  • * Berry soup with goat cheese sorbet. The sorbet added a pleasing temperature contrast to the dessert, and also provided a foil to the marked sweetness and sourness of the raspberries and blackberries. Very refreshing.
  • * Chocolate cake with gold foil. The cake had a fascinating flavor, not too sweet, but almost salty with some vegetal notes. It also came topped with the biggest piece of gold foil I'd ever encountered!
  • * Nitro "meringue". I don't recall exactly what this was, but I liked it. Its appearance was not unlike a block of ice, which we subsequently broke apart. When eaten, it had an initial hardness that quickly dissolved in the mouth. The overall effect reminded me of a meringue. Very cool. Andrés didn't seem pleased with the texture though, saying that it was overcooked by "five seconds."
Now, the night was as much about eating as it was about Andrés' philosophy on food and cooking. His main point was how perspective and background influence the dining experience. Andrés described different lenses through which to examine a particular dish: the chef's intent, tradition, technique, and the diner's personal view. He likened this to the four sides of a square. How did my experiences growing up, eating meals from my Chinese mother and grandmother's kitchens, influence my perceptions today? As an "experienced" eater, how are my notions different than those of the casual diner? The main raison d'être for this meeting, thus, was an attempt to bridge the gap, the disconnect between a diner such as myself, and the creator--the chef.

In this vein, he lamented on how technology, the Internet, can connect people, but can also drive the wedge even deeper. Andrés started on the 'Net in 1995 (I got on a year later), with the screen name "apicius," after Marcus Gavius Apicius, an ancient gourmet from Roman times. Despite this, he's still not quite sure how to handle bloggers such as myself. Andrés went on a brief tangent here, talking about his "best friend" (he has a lot of them) Vint Cerf, one of the "founding fathers of the Internet," and how Cerf is now working, along with NASA's JPL, on the Interplanetary Internet, a new standard for interplanetary communication using radio and lasers.

In the end though, Andrés does concede that, despite everything else, a diner either likes a dish or not. Context is important, but the end result is much simpler than that. By garnering a better understanding of the food at hand, one may be able to derive more pleasure from it, or one may not. But certainly, we can't expect a diner to posses a knowledgebase comparable to the chef; accessibility still must come into play. On the other hand, as a blogger, am I to be held to a higher standard than the common patron? Andrés believes so. How do I improve this understanding? By eating, by cooking, by reading--Andrés suggested that I read Brillat-Savarin's (the epicure, not the eponymous cheese) La Physiologie du Goût and Escoffier's Le Guide Culinaire.

One point Andrés stressed was that he cooks dishes that he himself likes. He is well-known for his innovative nitros, airs, and spherifications, but Andrés also believes in traveling the world, gathering the best traditional recipes, unchanged, and combining them with top-notch ingredients and technique, in order to create the "best" versions of a tortilla, a stuffed olive, or anything for that matter. Half of the items at The Bazaar have a story, a history behind them. For example, the "croquetas de pollo" were a staple of Andrés' childhood, and are now a staple for Andrés' three children (who have become budding gourmets themselves).

Andrés abhors being labeled a flag bearer of so-called "molecular gastronomy," as does his old mentor Ferran Adrià, who prefers the term "deconstructivist." People think a foam is so amazing, when in reality it's quite simple (a gelled liquid extruded through a gas canister). What Andrés considers a wonder is the common microwave oven, which has been around for decades, but which no one really knows how to make good food with. Apparently, he's working on a microwave cake at the Patisserie that is supposed to be phenomenal.

Another interesting point Andrés brought up concerned the use of seasonal and local ingredients, which is all the rage these days. The issue came up when we were discussing the "watermelon tomato skewers." We all professed our admiration for the dish, prompting Andrés to proclaim that the watermelons used were neither seasonal (watermelon's a summer fruit here) nor local (they were from Mexico). He believes that local/seasonal is definitely a step in the right direction, but that such a philosophy shouldn't limit a chef. Andrés went on to describe restaurants that stuck too rigidly to the mantra, at the expense of the end result: the dishes. Sure, use local/seasonal ingredients if you can, but more importantly, use the best ingredients you can. Don't sacrifice quality just to claim adherence to a particularly point of view. I could tell that Andrés is a stickler on quality (especially in how he was espousing his "best" olives), and really emphasizes the use of top ingredients paired with unflinching technique. Even if a dish isn't particularly popular among diners, it can be considered a success if there were no compromises in its construction: he knows he did it right, despite naysayers.

Andrés also told us of a humorous anecdote from his younger years, where he and his friends would drive from Spain to France, in order to dine at some of the finest restaurants there. Money was an issue, so he would make a reservation for four, despite having a party of six. They would rotate seats, but would invariably get caught. Andrés doesn't want The Bazaar to be a place where people are required to spend triple-digit sums for food. Instead, Andrés wants someone to be able to spend $30 on a meal as easily as the diner could spend $150 (and that $30 meal would rival anyone else's).

But the value proposition is not really my concern. What I'm concerned with is the food, and I'm happy to report that it was indeed better. Restaurants are dynamic entities, constantly changing and evolving in response to customer behavior. What I've seen is that Andrés and company have demonstrated a commitment to improvement. I wish I would've taken a copy of the menu, to really show the changes that have taken place in a relatively short span of time. Dishes have been added; dishes have been removed; dishes have been revamped--the Taylor Bay scallops with beet nitro we scoffed at previously has been replaced with a version using peach and ginger. Such responsiveness is refreshing, and encouraging. If such a trajectory continues, taking the long-term view, I think The Bazaar will do just fine.


Anonymous MyLastBite said...

Wow! Thanks for the post and terrific update. I'm going back Monday night and can't wait to try some dishes I missed last time. Cheers!

Sunday, December 07, 2008 11:17:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Thanks! I hope you have a good time on Monday.

If you see Chef Andrés there, ask him if he's read this post. ;)

Sunday, December 07, 2008 4:35:00 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Of course you have found yet another reason for me to be jealous of you! I think my dream is to eat like you do. I've even started drinking more wine to get more into the food groove.

Glad to see your continuing to impress me with your wonderful reviews. Although that's not surprising.

Sunday, December 07, 2008 5:47:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Lol thanks Mike. I'm glad to hear that you're drinking more wine. ;)

Sunday, December 07, 2008 6:00:00 PM  
Anonymous MyLastBite said...

Hi Kevin. I definitely will. : )

Sunday, December 07, 2008 9:36:00 PM  
Blogger Charlie Fu said...

Two things Kevin,

Do you believe that the Chef specially prepared the dishes for you this day? That on any other given day his hand may not be so deep into the dishes? The difference between a sous chef and the executive chef is quite vast, almost night and day. Knowing of your criticism, would he not put out only the best dish possible for you, a presentation that any normal diner would not have gotten?

My next "question" is more along the lines of the dinner itself or the idea of "ordering every item on the menu. You don't get palate fatigue? My friends and I get together and drink 15-20 wines in a sitting between a handful of us and at the end i'm really having a hard time picking out the subtle naunces between each dish and I feel as though I can't give the most honest and thoughtful opinion on the wine (doesn't stop me from doing it tho =P) Does that happen to you at 30+ dishes? Especially with all the cream, butter, oils that are used in high end dining.

Just curious =) Still hoping you'll come join us for a meal and a drink sometime soon!

Monday, December 08, 2008 1:23:00 AM  
Blogger Charlie Fu said...

oh btw, thank you for the detailed review on the restaurant!

Monday, December 08, 2008 1:23:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

If by "Chef" you mean Andrés, then no, he definitely did not specially prepare the dishes, as he was sitting at our table the entire time. However, it's certainly possible that a different person was in charge of the food on this night. Or maybe it was the same person, with more experience, or minus opening night jitters.

As for palate fatigue, for me it's more of a problem with wine than food. Fullness would be a bigger concern. But even when I'm full, I'm still able to judge the quality of a dish; it's just that I don't enjoy eating it at the moment. This was exactly the case at French Laundry. I was so stuffed by the end of that meal that I was only taking quarter-bites of the mignardises, but I was still able to recognize good food from bad.

Anyway, you gotta let me know when your next event is!

Monday, December 08, 2008 4:22:00 AM  
Blogger Loving Annie said...

What a fascinating evening you had ! Sorry that you couldn't take pictures again, but very glad that the food was better !

Have it on my 'to go to' list for 2009 :)

Loving Annie

Monday, December 08, 2008 7:13:00 AM  
Blogger FoodDigger said...

Kevin. Thanks for having us along that night. It was, indeed, insightful conversation with Jose, and overall, a perfect evening. Great recap...some of the details had escaped my memory. Must've been the three nitrogen caipirinhas I started with. See you Wednesday!


Monday, December 08, 2008 10:11:00 AM  
Blogger Exile Kiss said...

Hi Kevin,

Great review and follow-up! :) I'm glad to hear that Chef Andres personally sought you out and wanted to improve his restaurant after your initial thoughts. It's great to see a restaurant improving and it shows a true passion and care from the back of the house.

Can't wait to go back myself.

Monday, December 08, 2008 11:59:00 AM  
Anonymous MyLastBite said...

Hi Kevin, Was there any other "canned" dish that you liked besides the sea urchin? I didn't get to try these on my last visit but will be ordering them tonight. Thanks

Monday, December 08, 2008 2:56:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Loving Annie: It was definitely one of the most interesting meals I've had. But yeah, it was too bad about the photos. I should've at least gotten one with Andrés!

Will: It was great having you guys along too. See you Wednesday!

Exile Kiss: Thanks! It's refreshing indeed to see that kind of attitude from a restaurant. I hope they keep on refining the menu.

MyLastBite: All the canned dishes were pretty solid. My preference was: uni, mussels, oysters, crab. ;)

Monday, December 08, 2008 4:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

as much as i enjoy your description of the events, your post without pictures is like peanut butter without jelly.


Monday, December 08, 2008 5:23:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Paul: I know, I know. Believe me, I'm hurting about it just as much as you. ;)

Monday, December 08, 2008 6:37:00 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

kevin don't let the haters at la.eaters stop you from doing your thing. kevineats and the weekly reviews of some guy named frank bruni are the only food related articles i read every week.

Monday, December 08, 2008 9:02:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Lol, don't worry. If anything, the haters just encourage me more.

Monday, December 08, 2008 9:28:00 PM  
Blogger mattatouille said...

very illuminating. Great that you met Jose Andres, I like him a lot though he has yet to make a splash in LA. If Bazaar continues to wow not only the blogosphere but traditional media (it hit a small caption in Food & Wine this month), then it could be in the mix for one of the more notable restaurants in town, especially as the first legitimate "avant-garde" restaurant in the city. However, I'd still like to have a homegrown chef take on avant-garde instead of an outsider.

Too bad you couldn't take pictures.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008 2:23:00 PM  
Blogger mattatouille said...

Oh also, I think value always comes into the equation because food at restaurants in something you pay for. I know that you weren't as concerned about it on this occasion, but for the general public, they'll care about the price of things because everything in this world has a price (though some things have no price and that's okay too). Of course, at a place like Bazaar, you're paying for the theatre and escapism and whimsy of dining on such adventurous cuisine.

As for the anti-locavorism, it makes sense. Not every place can have the best ingredients sourced from their local area, even a place like LA. There's no way one could eat jamon iberico then. It also says something about LA - diners here aren't as keen about eating things that are sourced locally.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008 2:30:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

But is The Bazaar really an "avant-garde" restaurant? I'm not so sure Andrés would say so. I think it's a step in the right direction, and certainly there are elements of such, but I'm still waiting for a Minibar or Alinea type eatery to show up in LA.

I see your point about value. In this case, it wasn't quite as important an issue, as I wasn't paying for the meal. Normally I do post the prices of the dishes, as you know.

As for anti-locavorism, I posted a similar comment in response to your Food GPS posting. I'm not sure if you saw it before it was accidentally obliterated. I just read your newest post as well. Good job!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008 4:21:00 PM  
Blogger mattatouille said...

oh, could you sell me what you wrote in that comment? Josh accidentally deleted a slew of comments because he had some spam. Thank you for the compliment about this week's column. I wonder if you agree with me...(apparently some guy doesn't).

Also, I agree that Bazaar isn't fully avant garde a la WD-50, Alinea, or Minibar, but it's legitimately using its techniques, unlike places like Providence that are riding its coattails (not a bad thing). And yes, you do put prices on there so that people can put a monetary value on the food that you eat - that is definitely helpful (though perhaps my ability to indulge as often is both limited by financial restraint and general frugality amid impending, or already occuring economic duress)

Thursday, December 11, 2008 10:32:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

I don't recall exactly what I wrote, but I basically summarized Andrés' thoughts on how ridigly adhering to a mantra of local/seasonal can be counterproductive to the end result--the dishes.

As for your newest blog, I'll agree given the criteria set forth in your post; I personally don't have a "greatest food city" that I espouse. BTW, I met Josh last night at Shibucho. Seems like a good guy.

Thursday, December 11, 2008 4:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of the two high profile restaurants that have opened recently, which would you recommend: XIV or the Bazaar? Your excellent write-ups of both make it hard to choose, but I only have one night...

Thursday, December 11, 2008 4:31:00 PM  
Anonymous r a m e n i a c said...

congratulations, kevin. you've managed to post a substantive entry that goes beyond the usual litany of photographs and two-liner thoughts followed by a shot of the signed chef's menu. honestly, that is not meant as a knock on your site or style in particular, but i've always felt that A LOT of food blogging (especially lately) exists simply to run down "what someone had for dinner and whether or not they liked it" without much thought given to the actual craft or art of the writing.

i probably sound like a total douchebag, but after reading through some of the arguments made on LA Eater (both in your defense and otherwise) i can see where those dudes are coming from when they're griping about the bling factor of (most of) your meals. however, i can also see where your enthusiasm shines through for every meal you sit down to, and really that's the most important thing, something that all your readers can appreciate.

my only suggestion is something that you seem to be becoming increasingly more aware of anyway. blog with a conscience. i agree with chef andres in that bloggers really should be held to a higher standard than your average restaurant patron, if simply because internet opinions are increasingly becoming the measure by which restaurants (especially new ones) live or die. it's true that dishes either taste good or they don't, yet every critique of a place should at least be well-informed, especially when there are livelihoods and financial fortunes at stake.

that said, carry on. and i can kind of forgive you for writing about totoraku lol. although you might be interested to know that the reason oyama-san keeps the the place referral-only is not to build up some sort of self-important exclusivity, but rather because he feels he would not be able to maintain the same level of quality should his client base grow too huge. but like you said, that ship has probably sailed already!

Thursday, December 11, 2008 6:12:00 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

Finally getting caught up on my blog reader backlog.

I highly enjoyed this entry. It certainly goes beyond your usual strict documentation and excels at a literary level. To be able to write as well as you do while maintaining the informative nature of your posts is quite a feat. Since this was an interview more than a review, maybe it can signal a new direction for your site. As your reputation grows, I wouldn't be surprised if this isn't the last time you get these exclusive opportunities.


Thursday, December 11, 2008 10:30:00 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

Oh, and you managed to pull the elusive rameniac out to comment. That's truly an accomplishment. What he said definitely made me think about what I'm really doing with my blog and where I want to go in the future

Thursday, December 11, 2008 10:33:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

anonymous: Must it be either XIV or Bazaar? If I had only one dinner in LA, I'd spend it at Urasawa. ;)

rameniac: Thanks for the insightful feedback. Indeed, this post was a marked departure from the norm. However, I wouldn't get too used to it sadly. This was a unique experience to be sure, as I've never before had such insight into a chef's philosophy and ideology. I do believe that it adds immensely to a review. If only I could converse at this level with the chef at every establishment I visit!

I am amenable to the whole concept of blogging with a conscience; it is something that I've begun to think about recently. And, in that regard, you've reiterated almost exactly what Chef Andrés stated in our conversation.

Also, about Totoraku, I never meant to imply that the reason for the restaurant's exclusivity was some sort of attempt at self-aggrandizement on Oyama-san's part. Rather, I agree completely that such secrecy is a result of his desire to uphold a certain level of quality for his limited clientele.

Thursday, December 11, 2008 10:54:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Thanks Aaron. I really appreciated Andrés' willingness to talk to me and discuss his views on food and dining. I personally would like to see some more "interview"-style posts on my part, though that, of course, is highly conditional on having access to the chefs in question. I think rameniac's comments should be food for thought for most of us bloggers out there!

Thursday, December 11, 2008 11:02:00 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

Well as far as interview-style entries go, you're right that it is completely conditional on the chefs. However, I think you can also move your blog more towards that direction anyway, by encompassing more of what it means to eat, rather than what you ate and what you thought about it.

Friday, December 12, 2008 12:05:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

What I ate and what I thought about it still must form the core of a review. What I struggle with is how to incorporate "what it means to eat" into a restaurant review.

Friday, December 12, 2008 3:41:00 AM  
Blogger Aaron said...

Perhaps uniting your entry with a theme may make it more of a narrative than a straight documentation. Of course, that is your style so I wouldn't expect you to deviate too far from it. I just think you have a lot to say beyond just the food in front of you and I'd like to hear it also.

Friday, December 12, 2008 7:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

kevin. i am going to bazaar towards the end of the month. are there any dishes that i have to get....and are there some dishes that i have to avoid like the plague?



Monday, January 12, 2009 5:32:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Paul, the menu has probably changed, but here's what I think:

Jamón Ibérico
Steamed brioche buns
Croquetas de pollo
Sea urchin
Watermelon tomato skewers
Papas Islas Canarias
Mozzarella-tomato pipettes
'Philly cheesesteak'

Japanese eggplant
Stewed baby carrots
Sliced apples and fennel salad
Organized arugula salad
Artichokes and citrus salad
Ajo blanco gelatin
Warm leek salad

Monday, January 12, 2009 11:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you kevin! i will let you know how it goes.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009 12:43:00 PM  
Blogger Josh said...


I only recently found your site, and I've been thoroughly enjoying all your reviews. While this interview-style post was a change of pace, I'm glad you did it. Andres is an outspoken guy who says what he wants, and that translates to his cooking. He obviously cooks what he loves but wants to please people as well, and I can only imagine how tough it would be to strike a balance, especially when you have so many offerings.

I'm actually headed to minibar in a couple weeks, and I can't wait to see what's in store for me.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009 2:57:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Josh, I'm glad that you've been enjoying the blog. Andres' passion was palpable during this meal, and in a sense, it represented somewhat of a turning point for me and this blog. The dinner validated the relevance of kevinEats, but more importantly, it inspired me to become a better, more responsible blogger.

In any case, do report back on Minibar. It's near the top of my list of places that I want to try in the US.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009 6:11:00 PM  
Blogger dhkm said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Monday, October 19, 2009 11:15:00 PM  
Blogger dhkm said...

It's kinda off topic, will you be interested attending the "CAPITAL FOOD FIGHT" on Nov 11 in DC, my boos happened to have some extra ticket. Some of the guest chef include Jose Andres, Anthony Bourdain, Ted Allen, Eric Ripert, Carla Hall, Michael Mina, Barton Seaver, Tracy O'Grady, Mike Isabella, and Bryan Voltaggio.

Monday, October 19, 2009 11:16:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Dason, that sounds like a fantastic event! When do you need to know by? I need to see if I can be there November 10th through 12th. I'm not sure where work travel will take me yet.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009 12:29:00 AM  
Blogger dhkm said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009 10:11:00 PM  
Blogger dhkm said...

the sooner the better, I'll say no later than Friday, I know he also been asking around to see is there is any takers for the remaining two sponsor tickets. The fellowing are this years restaurant which guest will be able ti sample food at their tastion station.(base on last year, all of which are men by sous chef or above).

•Argia's Italian
•Art and Soul
•Black's Restaurant / Black Salt
•Blue Duck Tavern
•BLT Steak
•Blue Ridge Restaurant
•BOURBON STEAK by Michael Mina
•Café Atlantico / minibar by José Andrés
•Cava / Cava Mezze
•Central / Citronelle by Michel Richard
•Co Co. Sala
•CommonWealth Gastro Pub
•Cuisine Solutions
•Darlington House
•Dolcezza Argentinian Gelato
•Fresh Start Catering
•Good Stuff Eatery
•Goodstone Inn & Estate (Middleburg)
•Hank's Oyster Bar
•Hook / Tackle Box
•Indique / Indique Heights
•J & G Steakhouse
•Kaz Sushi Bistro
•Kora by Morou
•L'Academie de Cuisine
•Lebanese Taverna
•Mie N Yu
•Morrison House
•Murphy's Pub
•Poste Moderne Brasserie
•Rock Creek
•Santa Lucia Estate Coffee
•Spy Diner Street Cart
•Taberna del Alabardero
•Tallula Restaurant / EatBar
•Teatro Goldoni
•The Source by Wolfgang Puck
•Vidalia / Bisto Bis
•Westend Bistro by Eric Ripert

Since those are sponer ticket, we will able to meet and sample the food cook by guest chef themself before which are not open to the public (regular ticket).

Tuesday, October 20, 2009 10:13:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Dason, unfortunately I'm going to need to pass--there's just too much uncertainty about the next few months at this point. :(

It's really a shame, as the event looks to be a great time, especially with VIP access. Please enjoy yourself there, and say hi to Jose Andres and Michael Mina for me!

Friday, October 23, 2009 1:01:00 AM  
Blogger dhkm said...

That too bad, maybe next year, I'll say hi to them for U

Saturday, October 24, 2009 7:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi Kevin,

any reason you have not visited Bazaar since this visit in 2009?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015 12:48:00 PM  

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