Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Bee Taqueria (Los Angeles, CA) [2]

Bee Taquería
5754 W Adams Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90016
323.452.9575
www.beetaqueria.com
Tue 09/17/2019, 08:00p-11:45p




Bee Taqueria Exterior

You might recall that I visited Alex Carrasco's Bee Taqueria back in August, shortly after the place opened. At the end of my previous post, I mentioned that the Chef would be instituting a "taco omakase" menu on September 10th, and somewhat surprisingly, such a thing actually came to fruition right on schedule. The experience is available via reservation only, and said reservations can be found on Resy. There are both 6:00pm and 8:00pm seatings--with up to four people per seating--and the cost is $50 a head.

Bee Taqueria Omakase Table
The "tacomakase" takes place at a special table situated right next to the kitchen.

Taco Placero
1: Taco Placero
Things commenced with what the Chef described as a "farmers' market" taco, one incorporating roasted pork belly, white bean purée, queso fresco, cilantro, pipicha, and pitiona, all on a white heirloom tomato tortilla. It was a great start. The pork was delicious alone, but what really made this work was how it meshed with the creamy, relatively mild nature of the white bean, all while the trio of herbs added the perfect amount of contrasting brightness. All the various elements here just came together beautifully, and I loved the moderating effect of the tortilla, too. Note also the accompanying charred salsa, which we used throughout the meal.

2016 New Glarus R&D Champ Du Blanc
We enjoyed a number of beers tonight, and first was the 2016 New Glarus R&D Champ Du Blanc, a blend of aged, spontaneously-fermented sour blonde ales with Chardonnay grapes. Nose here was tart and acidic, with vinous, earthy notes showing through. Palate was dry and effervescent, with flavors of funk, Chard, and hint of oak backed by a persistent sourness.

Yin Yang Taco
2: Yin Yang Taco
Next up was certainly one of the more whimsically-monikered tacos I've encountered. We had a squid ink tortilla topped with a "yin" comprising huitlacoche, bottarga, chile poblano, garlic, onion, cotija, cilantro, and epazote, while the "yang" was quesillo and camembert. It was a superb match, as I loved how the richness and smoke of the corn smut linked up with the cheesy, garlicky notes in the dish, the whole experience punctuated by hits of sourness and spice.

2018 Bottle Logic The Lost Colony
Created in collaboration with Safety Team Brewing out of Richmond, VA, the 2018 Bottle Logic The Lost Colony was an imperial porter brewed with pecans and walnuts, aged in rum and bourbon barrels with Madagascar vanilla, then finished with Fortunato cacao nibs and toasted pecans. The beer smelled of dark fruit, oak, nuts, light cocoa, a bit of toffee, and rum. In terms of taste, I got chocolate syrup, stewed fruit, bitter nuts, and tobacco-y spice, backed by boozy rum and layered with overarching vanilla, while the finish was all bourbon.

'Flowers of Every Day'
3: "Flowers of Every Day"
Here we had a taco inspired by the numerous bugambilia plants surrounding the restaurant. Carrasco made a pink mole out of the flowers (with white chocolate, white sesame seeds, and pink pecans), and paired it with marinated chicken breast, spinach, and garlic blossoms, all atop a bougainvillea tortilla. The mole was pretty spot on, giving up a multifaceted sweet 'n' savory flavor profile that matched up seamlessly with the spice and seasoning of the tinga-esque chicken. At the same time, I appreciated the slight tartness from the flowers, while the onions provided an even stronger accent.

2017 Jester King Spon 1
Inspired by Belgian lambic, the 2017 Jester King Spon 1 was a blend of spontaneously-fermented, oak-aged ales from three different vintages (2014-2016), refermented in the bottle for nine months. The beer smelled fantastic, giving up aromas of sour suanmei and stone fruit, with mango coming in later. Tasting it, I got fresh stone fruit flavors at first, leading to more tartness and funk, with a tinge of oak. Very nice.

Roasting Bone Marrow
At this point, the Chef brought out some bone marrow, which was subsequently roasted tableside with red onion and chile de árbol.

Rib Eye Taco
4: Rib Eye Taco
Said marrow was used in our next course, where it was combined with dry-aged rib eye, avocado purée, lime, and chapulines. The beef itself was spot on, and really showed off the depth and funk you get from dry-aging. The meat paired beautifully with the acidity in the taco, as well as the lushness of avocado, all while the grasshoppers imparted a sour, spicy accent to things. Yum.

2019 Bottle Logic Bastion of Reason
Next to imbibe came the 2019 Bottle Logic Bastion of Reason, an imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels and finished with roasted peanuts and Ghanaian and Ecuadorian cacao nibs, created in collaboration with San Diego's Pure Project Brewing. The nose on the beer was pretty stupendous, with boatloads of sweet nutmeat all over the place. Taste-wise, think much more of that sweet peanut butter, evened out by notes of cocoa, oak, and bourbon. Delish, and excellent with the dessert below.

'Tilarin and Marzipan'
5: "Tilarin and Marzipan"
Dessert was inspired by Carrasco's childhood memories of eating candy while watching television on the sofa. We had here a panna cotta with chocolate and a touch of coffee, marzipan cookies made with almonds and pork fat, as well as meringue-like crisps infused with beets and carrots. The panna cotta itself had a nice nuttiness to it, along with a trace of caramel, and worked hand-in-hand with the cookie crumbles. Also key was the greenery, which imparted a welcomed mintiness that really lifted the dish.

2017 The Bruery Terreux Bourgogne Noir
Our final beverage was the 2017 Bruery Terreux Bourgogne Noir, an ale co-fermented with Pinot Noir grape must as well as fresh grapes, then aged in French oak puncheons. It had a fairly subtle nose of tangy, vinous red fruit, with a bit of oak in there. The palate I found tart and tannic, showing off more of those fruity, wine-like notes along with a touch of herbaceousness.

Chilaquiles
Chilaquiles [$5.00]
We ended up adding on an order of chilaquiles, which were almost nacho-like here, and comprised the tortillas used in the Chef's "media luna" taco, along with an ancho-morita-tomatillo-garlic sauce, cheese, avocado, and onion. It was a very satisfying conclusion to our meal. The various flavors came together well, and I was especially fond of the salsa, the heft of the queso, and of course the zestiness of those onions.

I certainly enjoyed my last meal at Bee, but with this omakase experience, the Chef has really taken his cooking up a notch, and these could very well be the most ambitious tacos I've ever had. According to Carrasco, he aims to update the menu every month or so, and thus I could definitely see myself coming back to check out his new creations. Other than that, I believe he still plans to start serving housemade churros and institute a "Taco Tuesday" program, so plenty more to come.

3 Comments:

Blogger Micah Zehnder said...

Indeed, this place is extraordinary and deserves far more press than it is getting.

However, you definitely had a bit of a more lavish experience, with fresh salsa and table-side bone marrow prep, as well as a more elaborately plated dessert, which is somewhat unfortunate that it isn't more standardized.

I also wish they gave guests a menu for the omakase as with most fine dining. I assume you took a lot of notes furiously while eating to recall of the details in each taco?

I have to say, eating Somni, Kato, Orsa & Winston and Bee last week, Bee was the most ambitious, interesting, and straight-up flavorful of the tasting menus.

The chef did mention he could make salsas upon request, so next time I plan to ask for a habanero salsa, which I suspect will take things up another notch as well haha

While Onda gets endlessly doted upon by the food press, there isn't anything even remotely as phenomenal going on there as at Bee. I hope that Bee eventually gains more recognition and begins to push more of a serious wave of alta cocina in LA.

Friday, November 08, 2019 2:20:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Indeed, this place is extraordinary and deserves far more press than it is getting. - Yup I'm a bit surprised that I really haven't seen much reporting beyond the initial announcement of the place. Fortunately, Alex appears to be doing fine despite the lack of press.

However, you definitely had a bit of a more lavish experience, with fresh salsa and table-side bone marrow prep, as well as a more elaborately plated dessert, which is somewhat unfortunate that it isn't more standardized. - Hmmm perhaps he's done some "streamlining" with the menu? Or did you perhaps go on an especially busy night?

I also wish they gave guests a menu for the omakase as with most fine dining. I assume you took a lot of notes furiously while eating to recall of the details in each taco? - Yeah I pretty much have to take notes with all of my meals these days. My memory isn't what it used to be!

I have to say, eating Somni, Kato, Orsa & Winston and Bee last week, Bee was the most ambitious, interesting, and straight-up flavorful of the tasting menus. - Wow high praise, though I admit it's been a while since I've been to those other places.

The chef did mention he could make salsas upon request, so next time I plan to ask for a habanero salsa, which I suspect will take things up another notch as well haha - I'd be concerned that a habanero-based salsa might be a bit too spicy. The one we had was more about smoke that outright heat.

While Onda gets endlessly doted upon by the food press, there isn't anything even remotely as phenomenal going on there as at Bee. I hope that Bee eventually gains more recognition and begins to push more of a serious wave of alta cocina in LA. - Indeed. Though at the same time, I *am* curious about Onda as well!

Saturday, November 09, 2019 9:21:00 AM  
Blogger Micah Zehnder said...

> Fortunately, Alex appears to be doing fine despite the lack of press.

I hope you're right, although...

> Hmmm perhaps he's done some "streamlining" with the menu? Or did you perhaps go on an especially busy night?

Unfortunately, I and my 1 other dining companion were the only two customers. in the 2 hours we were there, there were only 3 a la carte customers who walked up the window to get some tacos, unfortunately. There were supposed to be 2 other omakase customers as well, but they canceled and never showed up. It was also the middle of the week, so I hope he is busier on the weekends. I would have liked to see more of the flourished you got I suppose, especially some of that smokey salsa.


> Yeah I pretty much have to take notes with all of my meals these days. My memory isn't what it used to be!

It's a tough recall game regardless when chefs rattle of like 20 ingredients per course! haha Especially if you're drinking!

> Wow high praise, though I admit it's been a while since I've been to those other places.

Not sure if everyone would agree with me, just my personal opinion; obviously the finesse and "show" elements of Somni are on a different level, but it also costs almost 10x as much haha Having a piece of jamon gristle stuck in my teeth from an early course also marred my experience a bit honestly; it's bizarre that I felt like I was eating more lovingly, carefully/prepared food at Bee in comparison.

> I'd be concerned that a habanero-based salsa might be a bit too spicy. The one we had was more about smoke that outright heat.

A properly done habanero salsa doesn't need to be excessively spicy. In fact, to see a live example of this, when you visit Onda get the smoked pork jowl dish and you will see a perfect example of a habanero salsa that simply adds elegant flavor without being overly spicy.

> Indeed. Though at the same time, I *am* curious about Onda as well!

It's a worthwhile trip, and the wine list is a lot of fun, as if the beer list, and the margaritas are perfectly on point (but wildly expensive). I think you will enjoy Onda. It's not as remarkable as Bee to me, but it's still pleasant, fun food and drinks that generally tastes pretty good, and is novel enough to warrant a visit, it just doesn't necessarily warrant the level of press imo. not sure if it's the cult of personalities of the chefs, or just paid off food media doing their usual thing.

Right now, the food media is largely ignoring Bee and Bar Restaurant, which are by far the two best new openings in the city, doing food that feels like it's on a different level from anyone else.


Also, have you ever heard of the Inda pop-ups? I believe you would be a huge fan of them.

Saturday, November 09, 2019 3:10:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home