koji short rib @ mume
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Mume (Taipei, Taiwan)

Mume, opened in 2014, is part of a wave of western-influenced restaurants to open in Taipei. The three chefs behind the restaurant have global backgrounds, having worked at Noma (Copenhagen), Quay (Sydney) and Per Se (New York) between them. They blend these techniques and influences with local Taiwanese ingredients to create an altogether different type of cuisine.

The menu is a la carte, divided into a few sections. Snacks are about $10, small plates range $16-20 and larger plates are $30-40. To create a meal for two, we ordered a handful of items from across each section.

fried chicken @ bouchon
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Bouchon (Beverly Hills, CA)

Bouchon’s Beverly Hills location closed at the end of last year after eight years. I came here for one last meal, coinciding with the restaurant’s last Ad Hoc fried chicken Monday. The restaurant holds a special place with this blog. My two visits during the restaurant’s opening weekend was the first post on this blog, ever, and it’s also the place that I sat next to Thomas Keller for dinner.

short rib at mourad
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Mourad (San Francisco, CA)

Mourad opened at the beginning of 2015, Mourad Lahlou’s follow up to Michelin-starred Aziza. Like Aziza, Mourad has also garnered a Michelin star for its Moroccan cuisine albeit in much more glamorous digs. The SoMa location features a large, open dining room and very high celings – it’s a beautiful space.

The impetus for this dinner was my grandmother’s birthday. An eight course tasting menu is available ($155) but we went the a la carte route for our party of six. Ordering a la carte allowed us to order a couple of the large format family-style plates that the restaurant has become known for.

Truffled langoustine ravioli in a foie gras sauce with simmered green cabbage
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Joel Robuchon (Las Vegas, NV) [2]

I’ve been to Joel Robuchon in Las Vegas a number of times over the years, but my last visit was all the way back in 2011. I was in Los Vegas for the weekend thanks to a spontaneous trip, and was able to squeeze in a late Friday night reservation here.

The restaurant still serves an extravagant, marathon degustation tasting menu ($445, 16+ courses) but does offer more abbreviated menus with selections for each course. We went with the third of four tiers available, six courses (plus extras) priced at $198 before supplements.

sourdough dumpling tsar nicolai caviar, seaweeds
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Lazy Bear (San Francisco, CA)

Lazy Bear is one of San Francisco’s most unique dining experiences. The restaurant began as an underground supper club in chef David Barzelay’s home; it was wildly successful and became one of the toughest seats in town. The success led to this brick-and-mortar location in 2014. Two Michelin stars later, the restaurant is still going strong.

The evening begins with cocktail hour on the second floor mezzanine. Guests are invited to mingle, sip on a cocktail, and enjoy a few small bites. After cocktail hour, dinner shifts downstairs where there are two large 40-seat communal tables. An open kitchen anchors one end of the tables, providing a close look at the food as it’s being prepared.

lasarte
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Lasarte (Barcelona, Spain)

Lasarte is currently the only restaurant in Barcelona to hold three Michelin stars; it was upgraded from two to three in the 2017 version of the guide. This is the second three-star restaurant for Martin Berasategui after his eponymous restaurant outside of San Sebastián. Berasategui holds 8 total Michelin stars, the most of any Spanish chef, for his takes on modern Spanish cuisine. I didn’t get a chance to try his restaurant while in San Sebastian but had an opportunity to dine here for a lunch.