Dan Moody & Adam Horton @ Raphael (Studio City, CA)

Dan Moody & Adam Horton Collaboration
Raphael
11616 Ventura Blvd
Studio City, CA 91604
Dining date: 4/17/12

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My visit to Raphael has been long overdue. I first sampled chef Adam Horton’s food at Test Kitchen, towards the end of his stint at Saddle Peak Lodge in Calabases. Horton departed Saddle Peak and came to Raphael early last year, and I’ve been hearing good things about his cooking, particularly about this one sous vide short rib dish. Given these reviews and his strong resume, I’ve been meaning to visit but just haven’t had the chance to drive out to Studio City (which is actually much closer to downtown than it seems). A one-night popup dinner in collaboration with Dan Moody was the perfect excuse.

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The setup was rather simple with six courses, three created by each chef. The dishes alternated chefs with the final dish (dessert) created by Moody. The price of admission was 65 bucks, which I thought pretty reasonable given the standard of cooking I was expecting from these guys.

Palm Sugar Cured Amberjack and Albacore (Horton) crispy taro, mint, cilantro, pickled daikon and lime caviar

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The fish was tender and I liked that it was cut into large chunks; I particularly enjoyed the crispy thin strips of taro root for their texture and subtle earthy flavor. Pickled daikon and lemon added some acidity alongside the mint and cilantro aromatics to create a light and refreshing plate.

Uni & Scallops (Moody) scallop crudo, uni ice cream, spicy tomato dressing, miso-sesame crumble

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Creamy soft scallop and uni ice cream (an intriguing vehicle for the flavor) were the bulk of the flavor, while the crumble provided the much-needed textural contrast. The dressing provided just a little bit of heat to bring it all together.

Quail (Horton) carrots, kaffir lime, coconut and flavors of green curry

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I thought the quail was cooked perfectly, yielding moist and succulent meat – I found myself gnawing on the bones for some time. The curry brought some depth of flavor and heat, while some carrots provided just a touch of crunch and sweetness. I thought the coconut and lime were good additions too, completing a sort of deconstructed Southeast Asian curry.

Beef Tartare (Moody) beef heart, boudin noir, roti paratha and yellow curry

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I think this dish was popularly known as the best dish of the night at our table. There were a few rich components on the plate between the beef heart, boudin noir and the yellow curry; they mixed together to create some really delicious bites. Roti paratha, a Singaporean crispy pancake, was an ideal vehicle in which to soak up the curry and creamy boudin noir. An excellent dish.

Braised Veal Cheeks (Horton) asparagus, creamed morels, sauce périgueux

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As expected, these veal cheeks were exceedingly tender and rich, while the asparagus helped to lighten things up a bit, as well as add some bite. I really liked the morel mushrooms which provided their earthy, savory flavor that paired pretty well with the meat.

Chocolate Decadence (Moody) flourless chocolate cake, grand marnier custard, vanilla cognac whipped cream, white, milk, & dark chocolate mousses, orange & port sauce

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The chocolate cake seemed fairly simple but it really stood out to me for being so dense with a deep chocolate flavor. A light vanilla whipped cream was an ideal pairing, though I’m not sure I tasted the cognac in it especially when eaten with the chocolate. The mousses provided some variety in the chocolate flavor, but the star for me was clearly the chocolate cake especially with a light citrus flavor in the accompanying sauce.

All around I found this meal to be a pretty strong effort. There was a good mix of flavors (with Southeast Asia being a recurring theme, no complaints here) and execution was pretty on point. Highlights for me included Moody’s beef tartare with its rich hearty flavors coming together very well, as well as Horton’s juicy and succulent quail plate. I hope they can do something similar in the near future; regardless, I need to get myself back to Raphael for a proper meal from Horton.


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