January 5, 2018
Well, my first fine-dining experience of this Far East Asian Savory Trip certainly didn't disappoint. JAAN is a fine-dining restaurant serving modern, European cuisine and headed by British chef, Kirk Westaway. He came out a few times to speak to the guests and serve dessert; I was one of the lucky customers who got to chat with him briefly, a very nice guy.
Like many of the nicest restaurants around, there was no a la carte menu. I went with the chef's Signature option, a six-course affair the individual dishes of which were not listed in the menu. There were also options of a four-course, a five-course, and a five-course vegetarian.
How do I organize this? Overall, the food, service and decor are what you'd expect from a restaurant of this caliber: everything was excellent with a couple of dishes bordering on the sublime. Whenever I'm at a place this nice where the meal was truly memorable, I challenge myself to try to find flaws in the experience. Maybe I can say the decor wasn't up to the level of service and food; the ceilings had these suspended glass dragons (apparently, made by Murano) that had light fixtures within them, and the walls and carpet were a serviceable dark gray. But so much of that can be overlooked, even ignored, given the breathtaking views 70 stories up in a building situated in the middle of town.
The first-rate service wasn't at all stuffy, and I'm a little embarrassed that I often asked them to repeat what certain components of the dishes were as I jotted them down.
While I'm totally loving the local cuisine at every city I've so far visited, it was nice to have a meal of subtle flavors and textures. My palate's now had a full day's rest from the boldness of soy sauce, chili pepper, garlic & ginger. And through no one's fault, lunch at JAAN was a nice change of pace from all the sauce that's usually poured onto the proteins and starches of local dishes. The heavy use of sauce seems to be the easiest way to jazz up and connect the different components of a meal.
Ugh, I'm rambling, again...sorry! I'm sure I'm listing several components incorrectly in the following dishes, but they're described as accurately as I was able. There were plenty of human tongues to go around at this joint!
The trio of canapes to start the meal were a spherical pancaked stuffed with cheddar, a foie gras & truffle cream macaroon, and a deep-fried crispy chip, the base of which I forget, served with salmon roe and mushrooms. Oh, yeah, I knew I was in for something special after trying these little starters.
Trio of canapes:
The amuse bouche was a potato & mushroom consomme served with slivers of black truffle, macadamia nuts and chives. The soup was really tasty and the nuts provided good texture, though I didn't really taste the truffles. Luckily, more were on the way later.
The bread served was a fantastic, dark sourdough...hot and moist in the middle, perfectly crispy on the outside. The butter was typically good for a joint of this level, not too sweet, not too salty.
The first course was a ring of minced crab, sea urchin, osetra caviar, peas and sea beans. The ring surrounded a pea consomme and a quenelle of lemon sorbet. The dish was excellent, nice and cool and very light. However, I think the crab was a bit lost when competing against the saltiness of the caviar and the sweet, creaminess of the sea urchin.
The second course was a house specialty: egg in an egg. A large, hollow stone oval served as the vessel, and the tasty goodness inside was an organic hen egg yolk with osetra caviar, mushrooms and a celeriac-egg white custard. Served with it was a small slice of focaccia (I think) with shaved parmesan. You could tell the egg was organic with how deeply orange the yolk was. It was a wonderful, decadent dish, the egg serving as a rich sauce when broken over everything.
Egg in an egg:
Up third was one of my favorites: a raw or barely cooked Scotland diver scallop with black truffle, the scallop slit, the truffle slices placed within. It was the sweetest scallop I recall having, and the truffle's earthiness provided a very nice balance. Even the kale garnish added to the overall enjoyment by providing some brightness.
Diver scallop w/truffle:
The following dish was a serving of turbot and veal sweetbreads with cooked and fresh fennel. Individually, everything here was dynamite. Unfortunately, as with the earlier crab dish, it was difficult to tell which protein was the star here. Sweetbreads aren't sweet, nor are they bread; they're the thymus and kidney of various land animals, veal and lamb probably the most common to supply this delicacy. They're usually dredged in flour then deep fried. Because they're so fatty and rich, you usually wanna eat them after you've had any seafood course in the same meal. Reversing the order makes the fish taste bitter and dry. Anyhow, while the shaved fennel provided nice crunch and freshness, the sweetbreads and turbot might've been more enjoyable as separate dishes.
The main course was Australian wagyu loin with pickled onion, mustard seed, potato puree and a chip garlic mesh. I think the cut was loin, though it could've been part of the rib as it was quite fatty...in a good way. Everything here was delicious with the wagyu being so tender you barely gave any effort to cut it, the meat melting in your mouth.
Australian wagyu loin:
I sipped a Hendricks negroni at the start of my meal and had two glasses of a very good Burgundy from Gevrey Chambertin. The negroni was great, and they served it a tad light on the vermouth like I asked; it's a great summer drink. The Pinot Noir had that very nice, buttery smell to it and was neutral enough to go with all my courses. Wines by the glass at places of this level rarely disappoint.
The palate cleanser, which I forgot to photograph, was a cardamom sorbet with a cold citrus souffle and orange bits. Yeah, cleanse the palate is exactly what it did after that rich beef. The above photo is of another diner taking a picture of his palate cleanser; I was tempted to go to them and ask if I could take a snapshot of it, but nah....
The dessert course was served by the chef and was an apple-themed plate: roasted apple slices, pan perdu, apple gelato and a few crispy components strewn about. Thankfully, it wasn't overly sweet a dessert, and it went nicely with my jasmine tea.
I finished up with a trio of confections: strawberry shortcake, chestnut tart, chocolate truffle with a liquid center. Yeah, they hit the spot perfectly.
Trio of petit fours:
After that terrific lunch at JAAN, I walked around a bit, then freshened up to head to what turned out to be a fantastic bar called Atlas. I couldn't stop taking videos of the art-deco interior of this place. Built to impress, it's original use must've been to impress foreign visitors.
I started off with a very good classic martini; the "twist" here was the addition of some sherry. It was very smooth and gets three Licks.
For the following 90 minutes, I sipped a bottle of the Burgundy they offer by the glass. Unfortunately, even asking the sommelier to decant the wine didn't really help it much. It's aroma was OK, but that young, alcoholic finish was ever present. I'll give it a Lick.
The middle area between the two bars is the restaurant area. I posted some videos of the interior. Get a load of this place!