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Grubs hit Bay! I – Asia Village, Gary Danko

Mr Grub | Apr 29, 200402:02 PM

The Grubs infested the Bay Area over the past few weeks. This is the first of our reports.

Lunchtime in Sunnyvale, trolling for something interesting near the person we are visiting. Stumble upon Asia Village in a thoroughly nondescript mall on Wolfe featuring a tired Safeway where we stopped to purchase a hostess-gift wine. At 11:45 on a Wed, handful of tables filled with patrons looking suspiciously Chinese, so take a chance.

Given menu w lunch specials – combo plates of sweet-&-sour, chow mein & the like. About to bolt for the door when see specials on wall & Chinese patrons perusing a different menu. Given different menu – the full one w family dinners, fried rice 8 ways, about 100 of mostly usual suspects, full Vietnamese menu, & the combos again. Into the starting (I guess really leaving) blocks, when notice yet another menu on a nearby table.

Ask again & receive the $5 special lunch menu. Paydirt. Go for all-salt, all-day. Order salt-&-pepper ribs & salty fish tofu clay pot. (Proprietor: “Are you sure you want that?” “Is not for you, try chicken.” “OK, but you no like.” Both dishes remarkable. Ribs rubbed w s&p & thoroughly deep fried. Succulent, no; delicious, yes. Almost like rib jerky. Grub-san is in heaven. Clay pot a delight—fish NOT overly salty & tofu & broth infused w sparkly Vietnamese-like lemon, ginger, herbs. Damned wonderful & all for $10.

In stark contrast to this 1st Bay meal was our last, Sun dinner at Gary Danko. So much has been said on this board about GD, I’ll only list our picks & summarize.

Seared foie gras w carmelized onions - perfect
Duck confit risotto w English peas & ham – worked beautifully
Seared scallops w veg risotto – underscalloped, overrisottoed
Pancetta-wrapped frog’s legs – highlight dish for Le Grubbe
Olive-crusted lamb loin – 11 on a scale of 10, carnivore rapture time
Quail stuffed w wild mushrooms & foie gras – overmushroomed, underfoiegrased. Poor lil quail a bit lost.
Cheese (of course) – superb selection (even Epoisses) at proper temperature
2-sauce choc souffle – omigod, that dark choc sauce!
3 sorbets – 2 virtually tasteless, coconut barely passable

Wo exception, each dish creative, thoughtful, well-balanced, fresh-tasting.

We paired wines. Each thoughtfully selected from the middle shelf, well-paired, if not dazzling. La Grubbe particularly loved the Eagle Point Ranch Syrah served w her lamb.

Service was outstanding, yet disquieting at the same time. Courses were well-paced, altho cheese-dessert-coffee-cookies-check sequence was a bit rushed despite our finishing too late for them to need the table. All dishes were served hot; paired wines served on time; clearings unrushed. Unsettling part was the uneasy feeling that, with the full military division of mortician-clad servers constantly scurrying about, we felt we had been thrust into one of those car-showroom commercials where no one seems able to stand still.

A final carp. We Grubbers love flowers. Love flowers in restaurants – on tables & as decoration. Unfortunately, on this nite, GD’s flowers-of-the-day were lilies. Upon entering the room, the scent from the lilies were overwhelming, so much so that we requested the smaller, “B” room where the aroma was not as strong. Not really a good choice of posies for a fine restaurant that justifiably prides itself on the delicacy & intricacy of its food & the integrity of its wines.

That said, GD richly deserves every bit of the high praise it has received. BH Spago’s tasting menu may still be our “best-ever” dining experience but GD has bolted to a very close second. Well done indeed.

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