Naomi Pomeroy (Beast)
13488 Maxella Ave
Marina del Rey, CA 90292
Dining date: 3/26/13
While it seems like downtown’s Mo-Chica is still a relatively new restaurant, chef Ricardo Zarate and Stephane Bombet (Picca, Mo-Chica) are about to unleash their newest concept Paiche in Marina Del Rey. Dubbed a Peruvian izakaya, the team is bringing Zarate’s Peruvian style closer to the water. I haven’t seen a menu of the new place, though a preview (and what appears to be a few old favorites and a bunch of new creations) is here.
In order to celebrate the grand opening (April 2), Paiche teamed up with Food GPS on a couple of one-night collaborative dinner events featuring a number of past Food & Wine Best New Chefs. The first dinner hosted Naomi Pomeroy of Beast in Portland (2009 Best New Chef) on a 5-course, $52 affair. The second night brought in Jamie Bissonnette of Coppa and Toro in Boston (2011 Best New Chef) and Viet Pham of Forage in Salt Lake City (2011 Best New Chef) on a 6-courser for $62.
I’m a sucker for these collaborative meals, especially when it’s an out-of-town chef. I attended the first dinner, which also featured a cocktail menu from Pablo Moix and Steve Livigni (La Descarga, Harvard & Stone, Black Market, Plan Check, Pour Vous, Old Lightning).
Old Fashioned 86 proof whiskey circa 1966, sugar, bitters, citrus peel
Apparently this whiskey was 40-50 years old. Crazy…a true “old fashioned,” I suppose. My palate really couldn’t distinguish the subtleties the age brought with it, but I enjoyed the drink nonetheless.
A total of five courses were served: two by visiting Pomeroy and three by home chef Zarate. While fairly short, it would provide a glimpse of one of Portland’s more notable restaurants and a sneak peek at the food to come at Paiche.
Pomeroy: spring leek and green garlic veloute, chive oil, crispy maitake mushrooms
The meal began with this comforting soup. Leeks and a mild garlic flavor were the main profiles, with the subtle aroma of the chive oil apparent in each sip. The crispy/chewy mushrooms were a nice touch, adding additional earthiness and some texture.
Zarate: tiradito de paiche, aji amarillo soy dressing, sesame oil, camote purée
This dish was really reminiscent of others I’ve had at Picca and Mo-Chica, but I was glad to find the namesake fish here. Aji amarillo, soy and sesame oil combined to make a really deep and savory sauce to complement the fish, which had a fairly chewy texture.
Pomeroy: seared breast & confit leg of squab, asparagus & black garlic beurre blanc
The squab was tender and flavorful, cooked just right. Crisp asparagus and radish provided a little bite.
Zarate: short ribs anticucho, tamari, huancaina sauce, ajiaco de papas
I’m pretty sure these short ribs were cooked sous vide then finished on the anticucho grill, leaving the meat a nice medium rare. The meat was delicious, very tender with a sweet Asian marinade coming through. A Peruvian potato stew completed the bites. I really hope something like this makes it onto the menu.
Zarate: chocolate bar, cake, chocolate wafer, chocolate mousse
For dessert, we finished with a chocolate creation. The bar as a whole had a slight chew to it, which I found kind of addicting. A nutty caramel sauce was a nice accompaniment.
I left Paiche satisfied having been able to try a little bit of Pomeroy’s cooking, as well as preview what Zarate is cooking here. If anything, I wish there were more courses…particularly from the out-of-town chef (spoken like a true fatass). While the two chefs clearly come from different backgrounds and cook in different cuisines, I didn’t think they clashed at all. Flavors were pretty bold from start to finish; I’m not sure when I will see Pomeroy again but I’m excited for another Zarate outpost to open.