Saturday, July 3, 2010

Strasbourg, Yokohama

Let's say life hands you lemons. What do you do? I know, bitch about it! But in this case the lemons were relatively sweet (not like 'just chewed a miracle fruit' sweet, but not so bad) because they were just a trip to Yokohama. I dialed up my good friend Tabelog to see where we could eat dinner, called the likely-looking place, found it full, and got shunted to their original store. Which was a letdown. More lemons!

Nice modern atmosphere though, eh? I thought the flowers were real, including this huge display in the corner, until we started pinching them and found them firmly silky. Oh well.

The whole thing is very bare-concrete-primary-colors, which is odd for a chef who must have learned his craft in France 30 years ago. The service, in contrast to the modern decor, was very warm and friendly. Likable is the word that springs to mind.

But we're not here to pontificate on service or bloviate on surroundings. Let's make with the food, from the Y4800 'bistro' course.

The mixed starter of the day turned out to include some good Italian-style pickles (gently pickled, a good bit sweet), a meaty terrine with sauteed mushrooms, and a terrine of, I kid you not (because why would I kid you?), eel and foie gras bound with potato and salt cod mousse. An interesting amalgamation of things there, sort of bacalao with matelote? That terrine was the best, but they were all pretty average.

This corn soup (just corn and mineral water, they told us) was fantastic. Probably the high point of the meal, looking back. It's the reason there are two nice, fresh ears of corn in my fridge right now, slowly going bad. Didn't even taste cooked, just pureed and strained. This reminds me - corn is like asparagus. If it's at all fresh, you can just eat it raw. Otherwise, there's no need to do anything more than heat it through and then eat it. Any more ruins it. Believe it or not, there's a lot of corn in New Jersey where I'm from, so I think I know from whence I speak.

Beef was really soft, almost too much. Good flavor though, and not overly fooled-with despite the tasty sauce and abundant side vegetables. I liked this.

Lamb was maybe a touch better, as long as you're good with lamb chops and all the fat that they entail. Entrail? Deep sheepy flavor, and whatever the pureed sauce on these things was, I approved.

Oh, by the way - both the beef and the lamb were cheeky Y900 upcharges, taking the course from 'very reasonable' and into 'kinda average for the quality, really'.
Lychee sorbet - a real winner. I love it when a sorbet has an oily texture; it's rare, and I still don't know if it comes from oil or not (the first time I had it was an almond sorbet, so I thought there might really be some kinda fat in it). Rosemary ice cream, weird and resulting in a mixed vote at table - 1 for, 1 against. Could have been good with the lamb...

And chocolate mousse with caramel bananas underneath. If you have to resort to daubing whipped cream on top to make it purty, there's probably not a lot of substance to the dish.

So I don't know what I would do differently if I had this dinner to do over again. Perhaps plan a little farther in advance; but there was nothing wrong with this, and even the normal-looking dishes had a spark of decency about them.

Gitcher decency, right here, 10 pounds for a dollar!

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