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Restaurants & Bars 8

Playground 2.0 - Shirley Chung (Top Chef Runner Up NOLA) - VERY LONG

js76wisco | Jun 23, 201410:12 AM

On Saturday night we were treated to a fantastic meal. Shirley is the same bubbly affable chef you saw on TV. She represented her style of cooking as Chinese style California food - finesse with big bold flavors. Her back stories on each dish and what they meant to her added great context to what we were being served. The list of places and chefs she has worked under is impressive - Guy Savoy, Bouchon, Otto, Carnevino, China Poblano, B&B Ristorante - Keller, Batali, Andres and Savoy. Her background is firmly rooted in classical French techniques but she has incorporated Italian into her repertoire. Shirley does not do any molecular gastronomy (she joked because she couldn't pronounce the words).

Shirley started cooking at 28 and is opening a restaurant called Twenty Eight OC. It's on Jamboree in the same plaza where Google and the Equinox are (basically the corner of MacArthur across from the big Lexus dealer). The food will be similar to what we ate on Saturday. It's an odd location but I think she will do well due to her TV following and new take on modern Chinese cuisine.

2.0 has basically 17 or 18 seats around a counter where you see the chefs prepare every dish. There was a pairing for every dish that ranged from gin cocktail, sake, chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon. The cost of the meal was $200 per person which included drinks, tax and tip. 9 course tasting menu with an amuse and intermezzo. Shirley also broke out some Chinese tea. It was compacted into a hockey disk like shape. She said the best tea is not loose leaf but compacted into these aged tea disks similar to wine.

There were a few dishes that were just ok but also some amazing dishes. The first half of the meal was our favorite part. The amuse, pho, scallop and squid ink uni pasta were outstanding. Dishes I would definitely recommend. The lamb skewer was very good as well - similar to the toothpick lamb at Chengdu Taste only with a lot more heat. I'm partial to the Korean version of jjajiangmein so that wasn't my favorite. Both of the noodle dishes had amazing fresh rolled pasta. The uni pasta dish had some serious bite which paired well with the sweet briny uni. Since we were the last meal of her pop up she gave us all double uni. Shirley's style of cooking is very refreshing - good technique with a lot of flavor. She does not hold back on spices, herbs or heat. This type of cooking is right up my alley but not for the faint of heart.

Amuse bouche - devil egg aioli chicken skin chiccarone with soft bone

California Section
Trio of vegetables - asparagus mushrooms quail egg summer corn baby kale with persevered shrimp vinaigrette

Interpretation of pho glass noodle with Santa Barbara spotted prawn sashimi with Chinese flavor lobster stock to mimic the medium rare beef

Spiced sauteed bay scallops with English pea puree and pea shoot salad with xo sauce

Singapore and Malaysia influenced toasted banana leaf black cod dressed with aged soy suace

Fresh black squid ink noodle with ginger scallion jalapeno pesto topped with uni

I Dream of Beijing
Fresh Chinese style jjajiangmein with black vinegar

Cumin spiced lamb skewers with chili corriander and Sichuan peppercorn onion marmalade and shisito pepper

Braised oxtail browned beef Jamaican style tossed with Fresno chili, Napa cabbage and rice

Intermezzo - tapioca with melon granita with micro basil

Dessert - tofu panna cotta, red bean ice cream, ginger red bean sauce and salty peanut crumble

Savoy Kitchen,
Savoy Entertainment Center,
Twenty Eight Restaurant and Bar
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