July 30th, 2009 was no ordinary night in Century City Plaza. Top Cheftant Michael Voltaggio is about to take over at the Michelin-starred Langham in Pasadena and last night was really all about celebration. Surely someone else will be covering all the celeb / family / industry sightings as yours truly does not even own a TV. My celeb gawker move of the night was saying goodbye to Eater LA’s editor in Chef .

Onto the show. First, a nota bene: We’re not going to the discuss the service breakdown the peons suffered mid meal starting 9:30pm. As my newly-found art historian dining neighbor The Eye In Dining reminded us: she knew exactly when the kitchen/staff got stuck in the weeds. We somehow finished our meal the same time as The Eye who sat down nearly 45 minutes before us.

You will also not see a complete course by course breakdown of last night. There are some misses, there was much egg yolk, liquid nitrogen was abused (or was I simply too close to the tank?), etc. But damnit, the hits were fascinating.

Hamachi crudo with watermelon, smoked egg yolk, sea sponge (foam).
Akin to the tuna/watermelon jobber at Bazaar, akin to the salmon & watermelon dish @ Ludobites, still funky to my tongue. Call me Cro-Magnon, I just don’t want raw fish to be paired with watermelon. Any other melon, maybe. This is, however, a fairer version of all 3. Hamachi is less obstrusive, yielding a flatter note, and the sea sponge did bring waves of the ocean onto the tongue. Don’t get the smoked egg yolk. Maybe The Eye in Dining can analyze the importance of the egg yolk as a piece of visual contemporary art?:

Hmmm…. TASTY DIRT on veal offal!
The best parts of this dish was the sweet consomme mixed with the pungent coffee/cardamom dirt. Encrust any offal with the sweet soil, and I will eat it. The fact the server still poured the consomme at the table, tho Breadbar was slammed with double the intended number of covers, flattered me. Note to self: server was right, easy on the consomme, it was very sweet. Huge chunks of sweetbread with “exotic” spicing? Sign me up. This dish appeals to me much more than the originally intended squash flower tempura with sweetbread duxelle. Wish the veal guts were a bit less well done though:

Now comes the taste bombs: crispy chicken thigh, sweet & sour mushrooms + sauce, green garlic.
The assemblage provided visual cues akin to a piece of roasted suckling pig; poultry looking like pork, topped with foam of green garlic. Dig it. Then there is the cuttlefish noodles, a nod to molecular gastronomy, which mixed well with the slightly sour mushrooms. I tossed the noodles with the mushrooms into a stir fry. Sorry chef. Then I dipped the chicken in the separate, more powerful, sweet and sour sauce. Chinese food, by Chef Voltaggio, as manipulated by moi, eaten somewhere in Century City. Cool.

Beef for last?
Tamarind sweetened braised fatted beef is bound to a crowd pleaser. Everyone was whispering sweet nothings about the final savory plate. While the deep fried broccoli may seen accessorial, it provided a welcomed textural contrast against the buttery bovine flesh. I ate it, the SO did not. This whole course was a study of textures as the horseradish came in the form of styrofoam, and another beef accoutrement came as pastrami. Beyond fun and dare I say, possibly better than any meat dish from Bazaar.

Dessert 1 wins over Dessert 2.
Miso cake. Not just “any” miso cake: fresh strawberries, strawberry fruit roll-up, jasmine “Rice-Cream”. Wow, a bad ice cream pun right there, but it was cool and pleasing. Do not expect the ice cream to pleasure you with butterfat, this was just about the subtle flavors of tea infused ice rice. Again, a surprise on the tongue, it can’t hang with the ice cream giants, but the intended iciness was able to instantly break up the powerful buttery cake. Western style cakes are often total drabs, but this moist cake had the “fifth flavor” as provided by miso. That’s right, MSG in your cake. Friggin genius. I licked the plate.

Now for a little stargazing (click to enlarge):

And last, the money shot:

Breadbar Century City

Dining Room at the Langham

The missing dishes:

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  • Great seeing you last night. LOVE the MONEY NITRO SHOT!!!!!

  • It was great seeing you guys yesterday! Thanks for the great recap!

  • Linden

    I’ll go with you there. The wagyu beef, the crispy chicken and the hamachi were the standouts for me. And no discussion of the service except to say I’m looking forward to the Langham.

  • Are you coming to next week’s Hatchi? And when are you planning on checking out the revamped Dining Room?

  • Sinosoul has asked for my visual-culture angle on the chef’s repeated use of eggs, in varied forms. Indeed, eggs were the only “running” theme throughout. Let me say this about that, and risk overreaching in the process: Michael Voltaggio is a chef just poised, at this juncture in his career, to take off–as a restaurant chef and as a television personality. The egg is self-referential, a “hatching” theme for himself, if not for the “Hatchi” itself. Now, how’s that for scrambled?

    It was such fun to meet you, your SO, and Estarla.com at the dinner! Cheers, “The Eye in Dining”

  • i had reservations but had to work! bugger!

  • You got some good shots in man!

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