I ate here first over two years ago with Jschyun and don't know why I hadn't been back. Recently, my trainer, Lisa, and I started dining out a lot together and she wanted some Japanese fusion so I suggested Amé. It was Easter night and relatively empty (maybe four or five other tables full). Wanting to taste as many flavors as possible, I cajoled our waiter into mixing up the five-course tasting menu with a few additional items but also by not serving both of us the exact same five-course tasting. So, with the first course of crudo, we got two platters; subsequently eight tastes! Corresponding pics available on the blog...
1. Uni on scallop, cuttlefish, potato croquette with salmon and caviar, tuna tartare with self mix-in quail egg. Of the four, the scallop was the winning combination.
2. Second set of crudo; I'm sorry I don't remember the specifics, only the bottom two; hake and mackeral. All very, very good. Overall, the fish is extremely fresh and the accompaniments are well-thought with none of the sauces or accoutrement overpowering any of the fish (okay, the potato croquette was a bit thick and heavy for the salmon, but that is a minor criticism).
Our crudos were paired with two different sake; Senshin and Kubota Hekijyu -- both amazing; the Senshin was ever-so-slightly sweeter, but mostly dry, with hints of grass, white stone fruit, and depth. Fabulous selection.
3. Chawan Mushi. I requested the specifically so that Lisa could taste it. Still as stunning as it was two years ago; rich and redolent with lobster, succulent with the earthy mushrooms adding a complex layer. This was paired with another sake, Kasumi Tsuru, Yamahaj Ginjo. All I remember about this one was that we were both so impressed, I asked about being able to buy a bottle to take home but by the end of the meal, we all forgot... It was reminiscent of some of the best, textured Sauvignon Blancs without the stridency or overt citrus qualities.
4. Again, I don't think a foie course is part of the normal tasting but we both love foie and expressively requested a foie course be included. This was served atop the best-prepared pork belly I've had in ages. It is described as Berkshire Pork Belly “Kakuni” with Braised Daikon and Gobo Root. It was paired with 2005 Clos Habert Montlouis Sur Loire. Hearkening back to my foie with pork belly at Mina, it blew me away that one could be so bad and one could be so good. While Mina's pork belly was mostly fat, this was an unctuous, rich morsel of pork. The sauce, while on the slightly sweet side, was magnificently paired with a wine that had a minimum level of sweetness to complement the sauce and not fight it. It is a Chenin Blanc but a demi-sec level of sugars instead of being crisp or acidic. One of the best foie/wine pairings I have ever had.
5. The first of two hot fish courses, Broiled Sake Marinated Alaskan Black Cod and Shrimp Dumplings in Shiso Broth paired iwth 2006 Siduri Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley. This was the second time I had this course and it is very good; a rich fish which is one of the rarities that can pair well with a red wine. I think it is because of the richness of the shiso broth.
6. A daily fish special, I believe it was Halibut but prepared with sliced calimari, clams, beans, and more which memory fails -- other than it was very rich and quite tasty. Served with 2005 Domaine Laroche, Chablis Premier Cru. Another great pairing and this far into the meal, I am getting more and more impressed with the consistency of the wine pairings; nary a missed step in the bunch!
7. Braised Berkshire Pork Cheeks with Anson Mills Soft Polenta, St George Cheese, Braised Artichokes and Cardoons. Sadly, my photograph of the wine bottle is too blurry for me to transcribe. We were slowing down significantly as the level of richness in the dishes were increasing exponentially and this was no exception. Obviously prepared sous vide, this was melt-in-the-mouth meat and a clear show-stopper.
8. A special of the evening, grilled Spring Lamb with a miniature tartlett of wild mushrooms. I only had one bite of this but drank readily of the 2005 Marziano Abbona Barbera d'Alba. Again, perfectly prepared, with a sauce that was not too overpowering.
9. We decided to share one dessert, “Castilla” Cakes filled with Huckleberries, Lemon Curd
and Apricot jam with Almond Ice Milk Shake paired with 2004 Maculan Torcolato. Oh-My-God.... These little cakes were like miniature Monte Cristo sandwiches are an exponentially decadent level. The almond ice milk was like a nice palate cleanser in-between the rich, fried morsels but the addition of the Torcolato was majestic; not too sickeningly sweet as to overpower.
Overall, we both agreed that we ordered too much food. In the middle of the hot fish courses, we were reaching our limit. The rich entrée courses were very, very good and much of the excellence was due to the stunning pairings. However, I need to go back more often and avail myself of the brilliance that is coming out of the sushi bar. Based on this visit, Lisa insists I need to go to Bar Crudo and I can only hope its fish offerings are as good as Hiro Sone's.