February 20, 2007 4

Bistro K (Pasadena)

By in 02: Pasadena, Favorite Food Entries

For the report of my Valentine’s dinner, I’ve got guest writer aka my beau Jon who is a much much better writer than I am to blog about our experience. My previous entry on Bistro K is here.

DSCN9637.jpgJoan told me about this groovy little place in Pasadena, Bistro K, where the food was top drawer – refined, creative, and most importantly delicious. We signed up early for their special Valentine’s Day dinner. In order to capture the essence of the holiday, a good Valentine’s Day menu can’t just be merely tasty – passion is rarely tasteful, after all — it has to be sinful, it has to be sensual, it has to be decadent. To this end, Bistro K did splendidly.

DSCN9640.jpgFirst up was the amuse buche Suckling Pig Head Cheese, Xeres Vinegar. It was rich and remarkably tasty considering it was basically stuff scraped out of the inside of a pig skull. I might have to rethink my squeamishness towards organ meats.

DSCN9641.jpg With my mouth fully amused, it was on to the hors d’oeurves: New Zealand Venison Tartar, Sonoma Duck Foie Gras Torchon Sashimi, Galangal Gellee and Bouquet of Frisee Salad. Judging from my research (watching Iron Chef) when chefs want to go sinful, they throw down with one of following: foie gras, truffles and something raw that usually isn’t. This dish was the trifecta. The rich round taste of the foie gras complimented the venison, which was improbably tender and not the least bit gamy. The salad, drizzled with truffle oil, balanced the whole dish. The galangal gelle, a jelly made from a ginger-like root also called Chewing John, looked pretty but sort of got crowded out by the other strong flavors of the dish.

Next up was Sautéed John Dory, Lobster Tapioca Pudding with Cep Mushrooms, Dusted with a Fresh Black Truffle and Roasted Rice Powder. The lobster sauce was terrific and strange. Imagine lobster bisque boba and you get the idea. The chewiness of the tapioca accented the luxuriantly creamy lobster. The John Dory, which was just a tad overdone, sat on top and seemed disconnected from the sauce. This was probably the least successful dish of the night, but it was still pretty damned good.

DSCN9651.jpgIntermezzo: Pistachio Mousse, Grapefruit Jelly, Dungeness crab and Sea Urchin. This rocked. If you managed to get all the elements of dish on your spoon your taste buds were sent into a gustational tizzy: the brininess of the crab, the smooth earthiness of the pistachio, the richness of the uni (foie gras of the sea), and sharp tartness of the grapefruit. This was the culinary equivalent of oral sex. Very sinful.

DSCN9655.jpgFor the entrée, we were given a choice: lamb or duck. I got dibs on the duck.Roasted Duck Breast Served with its Confit Duck leg Egg Roll, Yuzu Glaze Jus, Panna Cotta with Fresh Figs Chutney and Long Peppercorn. The roasted duck breast — served in a yuzu glaze — was superb, neither oily nor dry. Its strong succulent flavor was perfectly balanced with light sweetness of the panna cotta and fig chutney. It was really astonishing how well the two flavors complimented each other. And then there was the confit duck leg egg roll, which was rich, spicy and amazing.

Joan’s lamb: Loin of Colorado Lamb, Stuffed With a Pastilla Filling Served with a Warm Vegetable Moroccan Salad In Argan Oil, a light Ras el Hanout Jus. The meat was done to perfection and pastilla stuffing was flavored with cumin, giving it an unexpected zip.

Coming off of the delirious highs of the entrée was the surprise desert: crepes stuffed with apricot jam and chocolate lavender ice cream. It was mercifully straightforward. After journeying to the exotic outer reaches of nouveau cuisine, it was nice to end on something familiar.

The place was packed, filled with foodies swapping intelligence about other restaurants. The staff was clearly overwhelmed, but the hostess was gracious. Overall, the meal was probably the best thing I’ve had in LA. It was brilliant, exotic, invigorating. And, most importantly for a Valentine’s Day meal, it wasn’t so heavy that it left amorous couple dozing on the couch.

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4 Responses to “Bistro K (Pasadena)”

  1. Anne says:

    Bistro K is easily the best restaurant in Pasadena, and one of the best in Los Angeles. The chef never ceases to amaze, and it looks like you two had an amazing Valentine’s meal. Thanks for the descriptions and photos…my mouth is watering!

  2. Matt says:

    great review! i must try this place…it seems like a foodie’s paradise.

  3. Caroline says:

    This is the best restaurant in _South Pasadena_ (and the greater Pasadena area). I’ve never gotten gotten the tasting menu there, however. Sounds sinful and wonderful.

  4. seat says:

    Seems like the chef likes to combine savoury with sweet? Very interesting menu! And haha the food is not in heart shape? ^^;;;