Saturday, July 21, 2007

CRAFT, Century City, CA

The opening of Craft has been a much anticipated event for Los Angeles foodies, and has been the talk of the town all spring/summer. With the success of Top Chef and the growing fan base, more and more people couldn’t wait to try out Tom Colicchio’s new restaurant. The fact that I watched the place being built right outside my office window only contributed to my eagerness to check it out once in finally opened

Amuse Bouche:
Blue Crab Gougère

This bite-sized treat was a perfect start to our meal. The blue crab was topped with a light and refreshing cucumber onion mixture, which was very tasty. However, I am still confused why they called it a Gougère , since a Gougère usually contains cheese. It was still good so we forgave them.

Pork Belly & Madras Curry

I was told by many that Craft’s pork belly was a must have, and since neither of us had any idea what it even was (I purposely waited until after we tried it to Google it, and was delighted that it’s not a pig’s stomach after all) we decided to give it a try. Now I’m hooked. As much as I try to be creative with my reviews, I can't describe it any better than this one blogger did on

Shortly, our appetizer arrived. Five pieces of … fried tofu? I thought I got pork belly? I shrugged and cut into a block. Just to describe how this dish looked, the near-perfect rectangle of pork’s outside was browned as if deep-fried, with a bit of skin on one end. When I cut into it, a creamy interior exposed itself, ready to be consumed.

I stabbed it with my fork and thought, “bottoms up!”




This was the ultimate expression of porktastic ecstasy. The inside was literally dissolving on my tongue upon contact and the fullness of the fat was completely coating my mouth. It was as if the world had struggled and toiled to perfect the perfect method of cooking pork belly and every iota of energy expended to create this had culminated in this rectangle of animal gold. The dish came with sweet-and-sour dates and a madras curry sauce but they were practically superfluous, although good (by themselves and with the pork, but I preferred the pork by itself).

My girlfriend gasped across the table. I thought she had stepped on a bug or was choking but one look into her eyes and I knew.

This was ludicrously good.

Corn Agnolotti & Speck

After my experience with Spago’s corn agnolotti, there was no way that I was going to pass up another chance at pure ecstasy. And since Suni didn’t go to Spago’s with me, he needed to try my new food obsession. Craft’s version was served in a beautiful copper pot, and topped with speck (a type of prosciutto). Although I would rank Craft’s agnolotti just below Spago’s, it was fantastic and we will definitely get two orders next time so we don’t have to share it. This was by far Suni’s favorite dish of the night, and now, since he’s joined me in my obsession, I am going to make it in my next cooking class so I will be able to make it for him.

Wagyu Skirt Steak with Marrow and Soy Bordelaise
We decided not to spring for the $95 Kobe rib eye and instead opted to share the Kobe skirt steak. This was our first taste of Japanese Kobe steak (as opposed to a Kobe burger, which is quite different), and it was definitely very interesting. This type of meat is incredibly rich, buttery, and almost gamey. It was served with a wonderful soy based sauce, with a hint of rosemary. When we ordered the dish, we just saw the words Kobe and Skirt Steak and really didn’t read the rest. So when it came served with a mysterious white thing on top, we both didn’t know what it was. Thinking it was some kind of onion or potato, I took half and proceeded to eat it with a piece of steak. My first thought was that it tasted like the burnt part of a marshmallow roasted over a fire. Still unsure of what it was, I prompted Suni to try it. Right then, as Suni was about to take a bite, a server came by and I made the mistake of asking what it was. Bone marrow. To no surprise, Suni immediately put it down and gave a priceless look of utter disgust. Needless to say, I don’t think we’ll be ordering marrow again any time soon.

Potato Gratin
This was by far one of the best potato gratins that I’ve ever tasted. Probably made with a quart of cream, Craft’s version was silky, creamy, and just plain amazing.

After-dinner Amuse Bouche:
Cucumber Soup with Cantaloupe Sorbet and Watermelon

This light and refreshing after-dinner amuse was a perfect palette cleanser after our rich and heavy steak and potatoes. The cantaloupe, watermelon, and cucumber flavors complimented each other nicely, and it left us refreshed and ready to take on our next course.

Salty Chocolate Tart with Hazelnuts and Sorbet

Although we’ve tried countless chocolate desserts, the addition of course salt was a unique and welcomed addition. The chocolate tart shell tart was filled with a rich and creamy mousse, and sprinkled with large chunks of salt. Every bite that contained a bit of salt changed the flavor profile completely. And I must say, the combination was fantastic. The sorbet, caramel sauce, and sprinkle of hazelnuts added even more to the dessert, and the result was a dish full of a variety of flavors and texture combinations.

Petit Fours:
Lavender Marshmallow and Chocolate Pecan Bark

Although stuffed beyond belief, there’s always room for petit fours. The chocolate pecan bark was good, but nothing compared to the amazing chocolate tart that we had just finished. The lavender marshmallow was definitely…interesting. The texture was great, but to me it tasted more like something you would put in a bath tub rather than a dessert. Not that it was awful, just not our cup of tea. Full marks for originality though.

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