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Bushi-Tei [SF]


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#1 Carolyn Tillie

Carolyn Tillie

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Posted 06 October 2007 - 06:08 PM

Based on this Chowhound review, I decided to head back to Bushi-Tei as my last visit was pre-Michelin ratings and also before the existence of an Omakase offering.

In all honesty, I'm not sure why this received a Michelin star...

There were two omakase offerings on the menu; one with meat and one vegetarian. I was intrigued with the vegetarian until I was told it was two courses with a dessert. That's it? I'll take the meat omakase which was five courses.

An amuse was brought out - a sandwich of tuna rillette between two crunchy crackers which were actually toasted slices of their house bread. Putting *some* rillette on a single slice would have been sufficient but an amuse (which in my mind should be taken in one bite) of two dry hunks of bread with not-enough fish just made for too big of a mouthful.

Sadly, there is no wine pairing with the omakase and so I was on my own in determining wine pairings for dishes that I had no pre-knowledge of. Big mistake. The waiter did tell me the first few courses were fish so I was fairly certain a white would work and ordered a Riesling (sorry, lost my notes on which one specifically). Also, this wine was served in a Pinot Noir glass... Bad.

The first course was a layered monstrosity of a giant wasabi leaf, champagne-poached oyster, blue fin tuna tartare, some coconut-based hollandaise, fresh uni, and American sturgeon caviar. I say it was a monstrosity as there was far too much going on and either the oyster or the tartare (or both?) could have been entirely left out. The flavor of the uni, caviar, and coconut was predominate so something as delicate as a champagne-poached oyster (which couldn't be seen so maybe it WASN'T there!) was irrelevant. As was the tartare.

The next course was a composed salad of fresh heirloom tomatoes, topped with dressed frisée, and surrounded by slices of sashimi of Arctic Char. Recalling my disastrous visit to Valentino in Los Angeles, I wonder why chefs insist on pairing tomatoes with raw fish -- the textures and flavors are so disparate and I'm curious if there exists any good examples of this sort of pairing as my two sojourns into that particular pairing have been exceptionally bad.

The Riesling finished and not remembering what was coming next, I ordered a glass of Pinot Noir (standby knowledge - it usually goes with everything).

The next course was a hot fish dish of grilled Red snapper with crispy skin on ratatouille and hollandaise. This was a real hollandaise but there wasn't quite enough of it to pair well with the grilled vegetables and dry fish.

The last savory course was American Wagyu, perfectly rare, served atop sliced Yukon Gold potatoes and baby shiitake mushrooms. There was a very good sauce with it but I'm afraid I don't exactly recall its components. Regrettably, the sauce did not make up for whatever was done to the mushrooms which were stridently sharp and peppery. I didn't bother finishing this course.

Dessert was an Orange "parfait" which was actually a scoop of creamy orange sorbet in some orange soup and topped with a small tuille cookie. This was paired with a sparkling sake which was a relatively nice pairing.

Overall, the service was very good but I question many things about the menu. For starters, in reading through the standard offerings, there doesn't seem to be any evolution in the menu. Similar to my Gary Danko complaints, nothing is different than what I read when I first visited, 18 months ago. The addition of the omakase is week in its lack of wine pairings and I found the dishes overall to be ill-conceived although well-prepared.

I don't need to go back. Ever.