Got there a bit early and so we grabbed some drinks at the bar. Dana and I both had the Ginger Kaffir Limeade with Kaffir Lime Vodka, ginger, lime juice, served on the rocks. It was a refreshing bevie. Very limey. I couldn't detect the vodka at all, but there must've been some in there. My friend Eric had the French 75 with Grower Cognac and Tissot Crémant du Jura, fresh lemon served on the rocks. It kinda tasted like a whiskey sour.
Started off with Half dozen oysters (Steamboat, Hog Island Sweetwater and Kumamoto). Stuck with the mignonette which seemed similiar to Hog Island's Hog Wash which consists of fresh cilantro, shallots and rice vinegar. The oysters were all nice and plump. After eating what we think was the Hog Island Sweetwater (our server wasn't entirely confident in telling us which was which) we both agreed that it was probably the single best tasting oyster we'd ever had. And I know my buddy Eric eats his fair share of oysters, so that's saying a lot. It was the biggest of the 3 types of oysters and it was rather large, but extremely tender and just so darned flavorful. Not just tasting of the sea, mind you, this had a real distinct flavor of it's own which I don't recall ever experiencing from an oyster before.
Next came Japanese yellowtail sashimi with fried shallot and thai basil. Four nice slices of wonderful yellow tail adorned with crispy fried shallots and julienned thai basil. This was like no other raw fish preparation I've ever enjoyed. The sweet shallots and thai basil offered a really nice contrast for the velvety yellowtail. The flesh nearly metled in my mouth yielding to the crunchy sweetness of the shallot/thai basil.
Crispy imperial rolls with shrimp, pork and glass noodles. The roll was sliced into small servings and accompanied by nice pieces of romaine lettuce, fresh mint, and sweet chili dipping sauce. Wrapped up everything in the lettuce and munched.
When we first arrived our server informed us that the kitchen was running low on the barbecued Willis Ranch pork spareribs with honey-hoisen sauce, so we put in an order immediately, even before perusing the menu. We could see that plenty of people were enjoying these little niblets and we were determined to also do so. The ribs were tender and flavorful and smothered in a savory-sweet sauce. They tasted similiar to standard Chinese spare ribs, but somewhat more refined, and definitely more succulent and meaty than what you'd normally find in your average Chinese joint.
We all split the next three entrees...
Niman Ranch bavette with Mariquita Farm baby leeks, ginger and red chilies. Although I was tempted by the shaking beef made with filet, this dish seemed more appealing due to the inclusion of red chilies. The meat was a bit chewey, but still flavorful. There were a ton of baby leeks which were also nice, but sorta just seemed like scallions (I guess a scallion is sorta a baby leek, though). There were also many many dried red chilies on the plate, but surprising the dish was not really spicy at all. Usually when you see that many red chilies on a plate you know it's gonna be fiercely spicy, but this dish was not. This kinda puzzled me...
Cellophane noodles with fresh Dungeness crab meat. These noodles were flavored heavily with peanut oil, and quite supple and slurpable. There was some crab meat intermingled with the noodles, but not a ton.
Spicy japanese eggplant with green onions and coconut milk. This was the spiciest dish we had. The eggplant was nicely cooked. Not mushy, but not too firm, and full of flavor.
Meyer lemon pudding cake with huckleberry ice cream. This disappeared so quickly I can hardly remember it. The cake was moist and lemony and the ice cream was creamy and berryrific. I'm pretty much a sucker for anything with Meyer lemon so...
We also split a bottle of some Austrian white wine. I didn't catch the name. Might have been the rühroter veltliner or gelber muskateller. Whichever it was it was delish.
We all had a great time and really enjoyed the meal. The initial dishes seemed to shine a bit stronger than the entrees, but everything was tasty nonetheless. It's definitely quite a scene, too. Lots of beautiful people, and a wonderful view of the Bay Bridge. I'd definitely like to get back to try some of the other dishes on the menu.
Big shout out to Eric for such a wonderful Birthday treat!
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