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New Tasting Menus at Lan


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New Tasting Menus at Lan

E Eto | Jul 24, 2007 11:18 PM

I noticed recently that Lan started introducing a tasting menu in the Japanese papers, so I thought it was worth a try with a relative visiting from out of town. Lan offers two tasting menus, a chef’s tasting menu at $58, and a sushi tasting menu at $68, which seems like a bargain for 8 courses.

Among the three of us, we had one chef’s tasting menu and two sushi tasting menus. Here’s a link to Lan’s menu on their website:

The chef’s menu consisted of:
Carrot puree with dashi, topped with caviar:
Duck pate with sansho pepper miso:
Snapper sashimi with fried wonton, and infused oil:
Kobe beef shabu-shabu salad with sesame dressing:
Miso infused foie gras and duck miso on top of simmered daikon:
Broiled miso-marinated black cod with white miso foam:
Mustard and sesame encrusted lamb chops with garlic soy glaze:
Yuzu sorbet:
Molten chocolate cake/soufflé:

The sushi tasting menu consisted of:
Carrot puree with dashi, topped with caviar
Duck pate with sansho pepper miso
Assorted seasonal sashimi (botan ebi, o-toro from Spain, madai):
Foie gras chawanmushi (egg custard) with duck scallion sauce:
Zuwaigani (crab) sashimi sunomono:
Broiled miso-marinated black cod with white miso foam
Assorted nigiri sushi (tuna, mackerel, anago, uni, snapper, egg):
Yuzu sorbet
Molten chocolate cake/soufflé

The amuse of pureed carrot with dashi and caviar provided a good sweet jolt to the palate. The sweetness of the carrot matched nicely with the dashi, and the caviar added a bit of flavor and texture. A very nice start. The duck pate was fairly standard coarse pate, but the citrusy sansho pepper added another dimension to blend well with the earthy liver. The snapper sashimi demonstrated a bit of Chinese influence to a sashimi dish by adding a warm infused oil onto (or around) good quality snapper sashimi. The fried wonton provided a nice crispy element, along with the white scallion. The shabu-shabu salad was a nice surprise. Slices of “kobe” beef (not sure if they simply mean American wagyu) were gently cooked shabu-shabu style and layered into a salad of arugula and other micro-greens, with a homemade sesame dressing. The foie gras dish was a real sensation. The foie gras was lightly marinated in miso before it was grilled, and the “duck miso” seemed to consist of duck meat cooked with miso (either with ground meat or pureed into a coarse paste), and the daikon was cooked in the traditional method with dashi, soy, and mirin. While one of my companions thought there were too many flavors working against each other, I thought it worked well, and not as overwhelming. The miso marinade gave the foie gras a pleasantly sour finish, and the duck paste provided a sweet element to go with the sweet daikon. I really enjoyed this dish. The miso-marinated black cod was fairly standard issue gindara saikyo-yaki that you get in many Japanese restaurants around town, but what differentiated this one was the white miso foam that added a good amount of sweetness to each bite. I thought it worked well enough to enhance the miso-ishness of the dish as a whole, though one of my tablemates thought it tasted like vanilla ice cream. I think we all prefer the classic version. The sesame and mustard encrusted lamb chops seemed out of place on this menu, though it was a perfectly executed dish. The soy glaze made from the pan juices made for a pleasant accompaniment, but it didn’t effectively enhance the dish either. I think this dish would be more effective if it reinvented the jingesu-kan lamb dishes of northern Japan, instead of going for a refined French/continental theme.

As for the sushi tasting menu, I have to say that Lan seems to get good fish. The sashimi course was a good example. The o-toro from Spain was of good quality, as was the botan ebi and the madai (a type of snapper). The fried botan ebi heads weren’t freshly fried, but that’s fairly minor. Here’s a close-up of o-toro from Spain:
The foie gras chawanmushi might be one of the top two dishes of the evening. It had all elements working together, though on the sweet side, it was comforting and recognizable as chawanmushi, but the foie gras and duck gave it a richness that put it over the top. I only got a small piece of the sunomono dish, and I don’t remember what the zuwaigani (crab) is rolled in, but the jellied vinegar and the cucumbers made for a very refreshing dish. The sushi course again showed that Lan is getting some good quality fish, especially evident in the ma-saba (Japanese mackerel) and the bafun uni (from Hokkaido). These aren’t items you see very often. They also pass the tamago (egg) test. Here’s a close-up of the bafun uni:

During the dinner, we also enjoyed a nama-sake (unpasturized) from Tsukasabotan. It was one of the sakes off of their specials menu, perhaps a summer offering or one that may be newly released. Here’s a photo:

After the last savory courses came a good portion of yuzu sorbet. It was nicely tart and sweet, and very refreshing. I wished it came out earlier between some of the heavier courses. Then the main dessert of molten chocolate cake/soufflé arrived. It was served in a ramekin accompanied with a raspberry sauce and a scoop of vanilla ice cream (not sure if that was homemade). It was a generous portion, and I was the only one able to finish it. While I don’t mind the molten chocolate cake, it seems fairly pedestrian in the 21st century in New York. Lastly, we were given a final course of matcha flavored French macarons. Here’s a photo of the matcha macarons:
These were thick with matcha flavor, without the bitterness. These macarons might have suffered from the heat of the day, as they were disintegrating as we tried to pick them up, but it was a great finale to a very good meal.

All in all, I really enjoyed the tasting menu at Lan, and it seems to be a bargain for the quality and relative to ordering items a la carte. Japanese expats know Lan for their specialization with meat dishes, but they also seem to be sourcing some good fish, though it’s not really a destination for sushi. It doesn’t seem that they will be changing the menu that often, but when/if they do, I’ll try it again, since this chef seems to be flying far below the radar, but offering many tasty items.

56 3rd Ave
New York, NY 10003
(212) 254-1959

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