I’ve been to Cotogna quite a few times now, the more casual sibling to Michelin three-star restaurant Quince. The restaurant was selected again to introduce some friends to chef Michael Tusk’s Italian cooking. We ordered a variety of things throughout the menu to share – an appetizer, a pizza, two pastas and one large format course.
Trestle is the second restaurant from the Stones Throw team. It opened in Jackson Square in last year, serving a rotating prix fixe menu at an extremely reasonable $35. That price tag buys you three courses with the option to have a pasta course for just $10 more. It’s really a deal for San Francisco standards. Furthermore, the pastas came with an optional white truffle supplement for $20. Our party of four ordered two extras (a pasta and a risotto) with white truffles on each.
I really like Papilles’ concept. A $38 three course menu is served daily with multiple options for each course. The menu, influenced by the French bistronomy movement, changes constantly. This evening’s menu featured a squash salad with an optional upgrade to foie gras torchon and a main course of prawns, hangar steak or duck breast.
Sushiya came highly recommended from my friend Tomo as one of the popular up-and-coming sushi restaurants in the city. It’s a relatively new restaurant, having been open for only a couple of years, but has gotten a lot of attention from many food writers both in Tokyo and abroad. The chef here is 30-year old Takao Ishiyama who has worked at a couple of very highly-regarded sushi spots – Sushi Kanesaka and Sushi Saito.
Interestingly, none of the diners this evening were English-speaking. Chef Ishiyama’s English is very good, which is probably an additional draw for international visitors.
As usual, this Thanksgiving was a tale of two feasts – a lunch at my mom’s side and a dinner at my dad’s side of the family. The day featured two turkeys, a large beef roast, lamb, lobster tails and a ton of sides and desserts. Below is the recap.
Ishikawa is one of the most highly regarded restaurants in Tokyo, known for its kaiseki dining. Here, diners are served a pre-fixed menu either at the counter or at a handful of private dining rooms. About a dozen small dishes are served in a careful progression featuring plenty of local seasonal ingredients for 22000 yen. I’ve dined at sister restaurant and fellow three-star restaurant Kohaku once before and had a great meal, so I was eagerly anticipating this one.
Hakone is a very scenic and quiet place in the Japanese countryside known for its onsen hot springs. It’s so quiet and quaint that there aren’t a whole lot of dining options in the area. We wanted to avoid the hotel restaurant and ending up opting for this place. It had high potential for being a tourist trap given its association with Nobu Matsuhisa and its ranking as the #1 restaurant in the area per TripAdvisor but we chose it nonetheless. And we were glad we did.
The restaurant is a teppanyaki spot, where chefs cook up the food right in front of you on the flattop. The specialty here is wagyu beef, of course, and the restaurant offers a couple of different varieties in both set menu form and a la carte. We opted for two set menus offering A4 beef, plus an a la carte dish of the top shelf Kobe beef.
One of the most notable dining styles in Kyoto is a kaiseki meal, a traditional dining experience featuring individual small plates using local and seasonal ingredients (not unlike a western tasting menu). The presentation are often as intricate as the foods – everything is thoughtfully presented and made to look beautiful. While in Kyoto, I visited one of the most well-known examples of kaiseki at Michelin three-star Kikunoi.
Each party that dines here sits in one of the 11 private dining rooms with a view of the grounds’ scenery, creating a very unique experience. It felt, at first, kind of weird being in a private room as a party of 2 but I quickly got used to it.