Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hatchi at Breadbar (Los Angeles, CA)

Hatchi at Breadbar
10250 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90067
Thu 07/30/2009, 08:00p-11:35p

Given the smashing success of Ludo Bites, it was inevitable that Breadbar would institute other such "pop-up-style" events. Hatchi, a collaboration between Breadbar and Noriyuki Sugie (progenitor of Crudobar and Bentobar), is a prime example. Billed with the tagline "8 Plates at 8 Dollars," Hatchi ("eight" in Japanese) is a series of dinners that brings an up-and-coming guest chef into Breadbar's kitchens to prepare an original, one-off, one-night-only collection of eight dishes (six savory, two sweet), priced at $8 each. Diners can chose as few* or as many dishes and they'd like (*minimum three), creating their own "tasting menu," in a sense. The Series debuted on June 25 with Chef Debbie Lee of The Next Food Network Star, which I unfortunately missed. Given that the second guest chef would be none other than Michael Voltaggio, I made sure to make my reservation early this time around (good thing, since the event ended up being completely sold out). Following Voltaggio are chefs Roberto Cortez (August 6), Remi Lauvand (September 24), and Eda Vesterman (October 29).

The timing of Voltaggio's performance couldn't have been better. As we all know, in addition to being a contestant on the new season of Top Chef, Voltaggio recently became the head chef at The Dining Room at The Langham in Pasadena (replacing Craig Strong, who moved to Studio at The Montage). Prior, he was, of course, the Chef de Cuisine at José Andrés' much-lauded The Bazaar/Saam, where he earned that infamous four-star review from Sherry Irene Virbila. Before this, Voltaggio was Chef de Cuisine of Hemisphere and Tavern Room at The Greenbrier in West Virginia. Interestingly, early in his career, Voltaggio worked as an apprentice at The Greenbrier, only to return a decade later after cutting his teeth at The Ritz-Carlton Naples and Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen in Healdsburg, CA, where he was Executive Chef. Voltaggio's style, which he really came into at The Greenbrier, blends contemporary American foundations with a smattering of ultramodern techniques (some of which veer toward molecular), in the process presenting familiar flavors in new and inventive ways. I'd experienced his cooking before at Saam, so I was very curious as to what he'd come up with here, unencumbered by the penumbra of Andrés' shadow.

Breadbar Exterior
Wrapped in sleek sheaths of wood, Breadbar is situated in the Westfield Century City Mall, along with other eateries such as Gulfstream, Houston's, Pink Taco, and Rock Sugar. Thankfully, parking is free (for three hours) and plentiful in the mall's subterranean structure.

Breadbar Interior Breadbar Interior
The theme continues into the cozy interior, and by cozy, I mean hot--my dining companions and I were sweating up quite a storm in there...

Hatchi Menu
Voltaggio's menu for the night was dubbed "An Experience of Texture and Flavor: An Artistic Series of Small Plates Inspired by My Life as a Cook," with wine pairings by David Haskell (ex-owner of the now-shuttered Bin 8945 wine bar). Click for a larger version.

Artichokes 'Barigoule'
1: Artichokes "Barigoule" | Salmon Belly, Philadelphia Cheese, Smoked Salmon Roe
NV Francois Chidaine: Loire, France: Grapes: Chenin Blanc, Cab. Franc
Dinner began with Voltaggio's take on barigoule, a classic Provençal dish of braised artichokes in a light white wine nage. I started with the salmon, a heavy, oily portion that was prototypical belly. It was quite delicious on its own, but its savory, briny flavor was heightened by the salty, smoky ikura, while the "cream cheese" added a palpable weight to the fish. The key, thus, was indeed the artichokes, which were possessing of a distinctive tang that effectively balanced the gravity of the salmon. A pleasing start to the meal.

Japanese Tomato Tartare
2: Japanese Tomato Tartare | Green Almonds, Parmesan "Overeasy", Tapenade Powders
2006 Krizevic Winery: Kalnik, Croatia: Grape: Grasevina (Blue Danube Wine)
Upon cursory glance, one could've mistaken this dish for a classic beef tartare, topped with the requisite egg; such a thought would be selling the Chef's whimsy short however. Rather, Voltaggio substitutes tomato for meat, and cheese for egg--a beef tartare fit for a (lacto-) vegetarian, in a sense. I first tasted the tartare sans "egg," and found it actually not dissimilar from a classic insalata Caprese in sapor. Adding the Parmesan elevated the richness of the dish, while the green almonds provided a pleasing tart nuttiness, completing the experience. I was initially concerned that the tapenade would be overwhelming, but rather, it provided merely a subtle note of olive on the finish.

Hamachi Crudo
3: Hamachi Crudo | Smoked Egg Yolk, Sea Sponge, Watermelon, Wild Rice
2008 Ch. Revelette Rose: Aix En Provence: Grapes: Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, Carignan
Here, we have a fascinating study in the interplay of sweet and savory. There was a lot going on, but the focus for me was the complex of hamachi, melon, and sea sponge. The yellowtail, in a sense, was a canvas; on one hand, it was kissed by the fruity essence of watermelon, with just a hint of rice, while on the other, the sponge and yolk provided a foil to an otherwise saccharine crudo, giving the whole amalgam a lingering, salty finish. Furthermore, the wasabi was instrumental in contributing a piquant tang, offsetting the gravitas of the rest of the dish. Finally, the wild rice gave things a delightful crunch, adding a bit of fun to a complex, contemplative dish. I couldn't help but compare this to the Bluefin Tuna Toro I'd had at Saam; fortunately, I found this preparation much more effective.

Veal Sweetbread
4: Veal Sweetbread | Poached Egg, Pea Consomme, Coffee-Cardamom Soil
Dios Baco Oloroso Sherry: Jerez, Spain
Taking the sweetbreads alone, I found them firm but creamy, immensely flavorful, yet not overwhelming, not gamy. Combining the coffee-cardamom "soil" added a marked bittersweet component that I quite liked, balancing the momentousness of the sweetbreads. For me, what made this course though was the egg, cooked at 140°F according to our server (to ensure consistency between yolk and white). The result was a creamy contrast, a divine element that simply brought even more depth, even more breadth to the sweetbreads, revealing a previously latent side to them that I found particularly enjoyable. Very nice.

Crispy Chicken Thigh
5: Crispy Chicken Thigh | Cuttlefish, Green Garlic, Sweet and Sour Mushrooms
Dues Beer: Flanders, Belgium and Champagne, France; Grape...dude it's BEER
I usually eschew chicken on restaurant menus, viewing the bird as bland, boring, but this course went a long way in challenging that perception. Alone, the chicken was excellent--juicy, flavorful, with a delectably crisp skin--easily one of the best incarnations I've had. What took it to the next level for me was the combination of cuttlefish and green garlic, which lent a fantastic, light, bright brininess that went surprisingly well with the bird. The 'shrooms, meanwhile, gave everything a pointed earthiness, steeped in the acerbic tang of sweet and sour. My favorite course of the night.

Wagyu Beef
6: Wagyu Beef | Short Rib, Saul's Pastrami, Tamarind, Broccoli Textures, Horseradish "Styrofoam"
2007 Dingac Winery: Peljesac, Croatia: Grape: Plavac (Blue Danube Wine)
Though broccoli may be the bane for some, I've always had a fondness for it. Here, the veggie was presented in three forms: thinly-sliced stalks, purée, and charred florets--a fancy broccoli and beef, thus. As for the beef, it was presented in short rib and pastrami form, the pastrami being my preferred variant, with a lean beefy flavor accented by lovely peppery notes and a bit of sweetness from the tamarind. The short rib, meanwhile, was similarly flavorful, but a bit tougher than I expected for Wagyu. In any case, the florets tended to emphasize the savory nature of the meat (a bit disconcerting, actually), but the best part for me was the interaction between the beef and the crisp, light broccoli stalks. For one of my dining companions, the best dish in the series.

Miso Cake
7: Miso Cake | Jasmine "Rice Cream", Strawberry, Yuzu
NV Jean-Paul Brun: Beaujolais, France: Grape: "Mousseux" Gamay
Eating this, I couldn't help but think of Frosted Flakes with strawberries! The most interesting element here, clearly, was the "rice cream," an ice cream with a distinct sweet, ricey flavor that recalled Ludo's Sushi Rice Ice Cream. It served a similar role here, providing a foil to the sugary sweetness of the berries. Our thoughts were mixed regarding the strip of coagulated strawberry, which had the consistency of ham, along with a bit of apparent savoriness as well--one of my dining companions likened it to a Fruit Roll-Up.

Fool's Gold
8: Fool's Gold | Hazelnut Praline, Salty Caramel, Nitro Coffee Mousse
2007 D. Ferrer Ribiere 130 Old Vine: Cotes Catalanes, France; Grape: Carignan
According to one of my dining companions, this tasted like a Ferrero Rocher candy! I can see where he was going with that. The presence of hazelnut was quite pronounced, too much so for me, in fact; I would've appreciated the chocolate taking on a more apparent role. Nevertheless, the dessert was still enjoyable, and I applaud the use of a salted caramel here, as well as the nitro coffee mousse, which was indescribably cold, light, and airy, almost like a meringue.

Hatchi turned out to be the event for local food bloggers. I personally encountered Andrea of The Foodie Traveler, Christine of Folie à Choisauce, Connie of Hey Hey Scenesters, Danny of Kung Food Panda, Esther of e*star LA, H.C. of LA and OC Foodventures, Jo of My Last Bite, Kate of Princess Kitty's Lala-Land, Mike of Right Way to Eat, Ryan of Only Eat What Feeds Your Soul, Tony of SinoSoul, and yes, even the elusive Lizziee of Refined Palate (David Haskell's mom!). Apparently Tara of When Tara Met Blog was also present, though I didn't spy her. Hell, even Marcel Vigneron of Top Chef fame (whom I met at Saam, and who was also at Ludo Bites) was in the house.

For me, Hatchi was nearly an unmitigated success. I love the idea, the concept, and food-wise, execution was almost spot-on. Service, however, left something to be desired; given the venue though, I'm willing to overlook the service foibles, based on the strength of everything else. I've already made reservations for next week's dinner with Roberto Cortez, and I can't wait.

More importantly, I was able to get a taste of what Voltaggio is capable of, by himself, sans the sway of our favorite Spanish chef. There's a lot of potential methinks, and I'm planning to visit The Dining Room this weekend, to see Voltaggio in his natural environment. Stay tuned.


Blogger Food, she thought. said...

I made ressies at the RC dinner as well. What time you going?

Friday, July 31, 2009 5:28:00 AM  
Blogger H. C. said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Friday, July 31, 2009 7:49:00 AM  
Blogger H. C. said...

Voltaggio definitely has potential, but I'm curious to see if how much leeway he has with the menu (being an incoming 2nd-in-command) and whether Pasadena crowd can handle something like the "Parmesan egg."

Friday, July 31, 2009 7:49:00 AM  
Blogger dhkm said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Friday, July 31, 2009 7:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

once again, "I can't believe u freakin' posted already" *hats off*

that hamachi crudo was incredible. easily my favorite dish. I'll be dreaming of it every night for awhile. it sounds delightful even at 8am right!

cute photo montage, mr. paparazzi ;) would love if u could email me the pix. thx ;)

Friday, July 31, 2009 7:59:00 AM  
Blogger dhkm said...

is that me dreaming, I think
i count eight "element" (ingredients and garnish)from the picture in each dish, is there somthing do do with the name "Hatchi"?

Friday, July 31, 2009 8:00:00 AM  
Blogger weezermonkey said...

I can't wait for the new Top Chef season. I feel sad for his brother.

Friday, July 31, 2009 8:27:00 AM  
Anonymous e*starLA said...

Yes, the parmasan egg was a trip!

Friday, July 31, 2009 9:54:00 AM  
Blogger sygyzy said...

I'm confused. You start out talking about a new series of guest chefs as part of a program/idea set forth by Sugie and Breadbar but Sugie himself is not cooking this time around?

Friday, July 31, 2009 10:16:00 AM  
Blogger MyLastBite said...

STUNNING AND STELLAR. I don't even want to look at my photos for a few days. Maybe I'll just add a link on over to KevinEats!

Fantastic to finally meet you as well. Honestly, you're a true inspiration.


Friday, July 31, 2009 10:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Linden said...

For me, the hamachi and the wagyu beef were the standouts. But service really killed the meal for us, with all plates coming out within 10 mins of the first one. We sent several courses back, after which they came back out of progression. Still, Voltaggio mentioned that he's starting a tasting menu at Langham next week, so I'll head there for a full tasting unhampered by the staff.

Friday, July 31, 2009 10:37:00 AM  
Blogger yutjangsah said...

looks bootiful.

Friday, July 31, 2009 10:45:00 AM  
Blogger Daniel S. said...

Great review, Kevin. How was the timing of each course? And I agree about the service; it's in dire need of some hustle and extra staff.

Friday, July 31, 2009 11:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Gastronomer said...

As a Pasadena resident, I'd say we can handle Voltaggio's mad skillz. Am excited to read your Langham write up.

Friday, July 31, 2009 11:43:00 AM  
Blogger Foodie Traveler said...

Well Done Kevin! Great photos and review. I am so impressed you got this up so quick. It was great seeing you and all our fellow bloggers last night - I felt like I was part of something bigger...

Friday, July 31, 2009 2:12:00 PM  
Anonymous SinoSoul said...

K, won't make it to the next Hachi (not a typo) series.

6 out of the Langham's new menu was previewed last nite. At that level of hotel pricing, I can not visit anytime soon.

Have a great meal there tonite, sir!

Friday, July 31, 2009 5:06:00 PM  
Anonymous PK said...

omhg.. can't believe you post the blog right away... orz

Friday, July 31, 2009 5:09:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Liz: I'm at 8:00. Y tu?

HC: What do you mean "2nd-in-command?" He's filling the role of chef de cuisine, the top dog, right?

Christine: I can't I believe I posted already either! Pics will be sent later today. ;)

Dason: That would be pretty incredible if that were the case! Can you list the eight elements for each dish?

Weezer: Why do you feel sad for his bro? He's doing well for himself at Volt isn't he?

Esther: Yeah, I actually thought it was real yolk when I first cut into it! Apparently the cheese was colored with yellow tomato coulis (according to Refined Palate).

sygyzy: Sugie is "consulting" for the series, whatever that means. However, during this dinner, I did see him in the kitchen.

Jo: It was great meeting you as well, finally! I'm sure your photos turned out just fine. ;)

Linden: Service seemed to fall at two extremes. You guys got all your dishes pretty much at once, while we had 30-minute lulls in between. I'm not sure which is worse. I'll hopefully be heading to Dining Room tonight.

Sook: 'Twas indeed. You coming out to the next one?

Daniel: The timing was super slow, though everyone else seems to have gotten plates super fast. In any case, I think that the staff may not be used to fine dining service, especially eight-course degustation style with wine pairing.

Cathy: Pasadena's fine; five miles east, I wouldn't be so sure. Will you be going to Dining Room any time soon?

Andrea: Yeah it was great to see us all out in full force! Will I be seeing you again this coming Thursday?

Tony: Yep, the usually spelling is Hachi, so I'm not sure why it's Hatchi here. In any case, there are about 13 items on the DR menu that we didn't have, so hopefully I'll be able to report back tonight.

Kate: Yeah I decided to be hardcore and stay up until 5:00am to get it out. Apologies to Tony (#2).

Saturday, August 01, 2009 3:33:00 PM  
Blogger dhkm said...

here are the "element" ether from what I saw or base on your post.

1) Salmon Belly, Ikura, Cream cheese, Artichokes, Green herb on top of salmon, Green herb sit next to salmon, oil like sauce (I assume is the white wine artichoke braised in), yellow sauce use to garnish the plate.

2)Tomato, cheese, Green almonds, Tapenade Powders, some from of green power, green herb on top, two different yellow looking garnish on each side of the plate.

3)Watermelon, Hamachi, Sea Sponge, Wild Rice, wasabi, green herb on top, egg yolk on plate, spice clothing the hamachi

4)Sweetbreads, Coffee-Cardamom, egg white, egg yolk, item sitting on top of "egg", green herb on top, some form of oil sauce sitting on/next the bottom of "egg", spice sitting onthe plate next to the "egg"

5)chicken skin, chicken meat, cuttlefish, green garlic, mushroom, Green foom sitting on top, some foam for juice the chicken sitting on, egg yolk looking sauce garnish on plate.

6)broccoli which are thinly-sliced stalks, purée, and charred, short rib, pastrami, "Styrofoam", a thicker looking sauce the ribs sitting on, the lighter looking sauce the pastrami sitting on.

7)strawberries on the plate, "Rice Cream", sauce on bottom, the strip of coagulated strawberry, rice crisp crunch looking item the "rice Cream sitting on, miso cake, yuzu.

8)the five different layer of the Hazelnut Praline, Coffee Mousse sit next to it, Caramel sauce sitting on the bottom, "chocolate ring" use as plate granish

each has eight "element" or eight different kind of taste total.

Saturday, August 01, 2009 7:36:00 PM  
Blogger TaraMetBlog said...

Looks like I dined too early, because I missed everyone and saw all the tweets when I got home. Really enjoyed my meal though especially the Artichokes "Barigoule", Tomato Tartare and short ribs.

Saturday, August 01, 2009 10:52:00 PM  
Blogger dhkm said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Sunday, August 02, 2009 11:40:00 AM  
Blogger dhkm said...

Will u be going to the one on the 8th with Chef Roberto Cortez?

Sunday, August 02, 2009 11:47:00 AM  
Blogger dhkm said...

As for the name "Hatchi", I think they might be playing with sound and meaning. Since Hatchi pronounce like Hachi, and once you conver Hatchi to Japanese, it become ハッチ, which means "bring forth to produce or create". which happened to be what Breadbar are doing for this event.

Sunday, August 02, 2009 12:03:00 PM  
Blogger Right Way to Eat said...

Dude Kevin, did you go to Langham last night? I can't wait to hear your review about that.

For me, I like the Veal sweetbread myself. I thought the egg too provided a great counterbalance compliment to the veal on the sweetbread. What's so was our first course. LOL

Sunday, August 02, 2009 2:33:00 PM  
Blogger Kung Food Panda said...

Great report and I wonder how much you enjoyed the Langham meal myself. It's amazing how you're getting this report out on the same night as dinner!

Sunday, August 02, 2009 4:21:00 PM  
Blogger dhkm said...

Men, you were fast, I know The Dining Room at the Langham were close from July 28-30, which mean you were there for the grand opening, how was it, are the food kinda same as the food you have at Breadbar? I'm looking forword to your post.

Sunday, August 02, 2009 4:42:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Dason, here are my thoughts on your very thorough analysis:

1: Artichokes "Barigoule" | Salmon Belly, Philadelphia Cheese, Smoked Salmon Roe
*Salmon Belly
*Cream cheese
*Green herb on top of salmon
?Green herb sit next to salmon (not sure if it's the same as the herb above)
*oil like sauce
*yellow sauce use to garnish the plate

2: Japanese Tomato Tartare | Green Almonds, Parmesan "Overeasy", Tapenade Powders
*Green almonds
*Tapenade Powders
?some from of green powder (is this different from the tapenade powder?)
*green herb on top
?two different yellow looking garnish on each side of the plate (this is the green almond)
?two different yellow looking garnish on each side of the plate (this is the green almond)

3: Hamachi Crudo | Smoked Egg Yolk, Sea Sponge, Watermelon, Wild Rice
*Sea Sponge
*Wild Rice
*green herb on top
*egg yolk on plate
*spice clothing the hamachi

4: Veal Sweetbread | Poached Egg, Pea Consomme, Coffee-Cardamom Soil
*egg white
*egg yolk
*item sitting on top of "egg"
*green herb on top
*some form of oil sauce sitting on/next the bottom of "egg"
*spice sitting onthe plate next to the "egg"

5: Crispy Chicken Thigh | Cuttlefish, Green Garlic, Sweet and Sour Mushrooms
*chicken skin
?chicken meat (but should this be separate from the skin?)
*green garlic
*Green foom sitting on top
*some foam for juice the chicken sitting on
*egg yolk looking sauce garnish on plate.

6: Wagyu Beef | Short Rib, Saul's Pastrami, Tamarind, Broccoli Textures, Horseradish "Styrofoam"
*broccoli which are thinly-sliced stalks
*and charred
*short rib
*a thicker looking sauce the ribs sitting on
*the lighter looking sauce the pastrami sitting on

7: Miso Cake | Jasmine "Rice Cream", Strawberry, Yuzu
*strawberries on the plate
*"Rice Cream"
*sauce on bottom
*the strip of coagulated strawberry
*rice crisp crunch looking item the "rice Cream sitting on
*miso cake
(this is only seven items)

8: Fool's Gold | Hazelnut Praline, Salty Caramel, Nitro Coffee Mousse
?the five different layer of the Hazelnut Praline (not sure if it's five layers)
*Coffee Mousse sit next to it
*Caramel sauce sitting on the bottom
*"chocolate ring" use as plate granish
(what about the bits sprinkled about the plate? the gold flakes?)

So I think it's close, but not quite there.

Sunday, August 02, 2009 6:59:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Tara: Yeah it's too bad we missed you! Did you manage to run into anyone?

Dason 1: Yes, I should be attending the Roberto Cortez event as well.

Dason 2: Very interesting. That would be a very clever play on words.

Mike: Mike, yep I did go to The Dining Room last night. I really liked the sweetbreads, but not for my first course!

Danny: Since this was a one-night-only event, I felt that time was of the essence in getting the post out. I believe SinoSoul was second, and Refined Palate third. I'll try to post DR tonight.

Dason 3: Yes, The Dining Room was closed in order to prepare for the new menu. The food was very similar in style to what we had at Hatchi, and in fact, there were several courses on the DR menu that were identical.

Sunday, August 02, 2009 7:08:00 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

Hmm, did the tomato tartare have the consistency of beef? I can't imagine the tomato being that chewy

Thursday, August 06, 2009 10:14:00 AM  
Blogger Foodie Traveler said...

I feel like a turtle, but I FINALLY got my review up. A bit of a different approach...

Thursday, August 06, 2009 2:36:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Aaron: You're right, the tomato wasn't nearly as chewy. It was more for the visual effect than textural.

Andrea: I just read your post. Don't worry, only Mike has gotten his post up after the initially flurry of me, Refined Palate, and SinoSoul. ;)

Thursday, August 06, 2009 3:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You look like you're filling out a bit? Maybe try a tasting menu of steamed veggies?

Monday, August 17, 2009 7:15:00 PM  

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