Maison Akira (Pasadena, CA)
713 East Green Street
Dining date: 2/3/11
My last dineLA meal of this past season was here at Maison Akira. Maison Akira has been somewhere I’ve been interested in trying, but not enough to actually plan a trip there. One of my high school friends recently moved to Pasadena, so it was a perfect opportunity to come try some of Chef Akira Hirose’s Japanese-French cuisine.
The dineLA menu was a 3-course meal, but I put up the pictures of everyone else’s food for the heck of it.
Amuse Bouche – tofu cake, uni, pesto sauce
This sounded pretty interesting, but I thought it fell flat. The flavors were rather muted in the cake, with mushroom and seaweed the most prominent. The uni was just okay, and the pesto didn’t really have the vibrant, fresh flavor I was looking for.
Côté Seared House Smoked Scottish Salmon with Japanese Eggplant Caviar
Sautéed Hokkaido Scallops with Shimeji Mushrooms in a Yuzu Kosho Jus
These were some tiny scallops, for sure. I thought the sear was good, resulting in a nice scallop. I didn’t get a lot from the yuzu kosho, though, so this dish was sort of one-dimensional for me.
Sautéed New Zealand Wild Tai Snapper in a Black Mussel and Seaweed Chardonnay Sauce
Angus Beef Château Steak in a Cabernet & Béarnaise Sauce with Gratin of Potato & Oyster Mushroom Sympatic
Maple Leaf Duck Breast Rôti, Sauce à L’Orange With Daikon Pot au Feu and Shiitake Mushroom
Snake River Farm ‘Kobe’ New York Steak in a Marchand du Vin Sauce with Potato Mousseline
The steak was very good; tender and flavorful with a really nice pan sauce. Disappointingly, the mashed potatoes were surprisingly bland and clumpy, and the vegetables didn’t add too much either. The plating reminded me of a frozen dinner, with the meat in the bottom, and scoops of potatoes and vegetables at each corner.
Vanilla Yuzu Cream Brûlée
This was a good creme brulee, exemplifying the French and Japanese influences of Hirose’s cooking. The yuzu lent a subtle tart flavor; I find yuzu to sometimes be overpoweringly sour, but I thought the custard and bruleed sugar tempered it well.
Crêpes with Baked Banana and Caramel Ice Cream
Hazelnut Chocolate Mousse Cake and Maccha Ice Cream
The cake was pretty good – moist and chocolatey. I didn’t get any hazelnut flavor in the cake, just from the nuts on top – I would have preferred them to be incorporated a little better. The green tea ice cream was pretty good.
I found Maison Akira to be disappointing. It wasn’t a question of execution; frankly, I found many of the dishes to be rather boring. I could see how his type of Asian fusion cuisine was more exciting in the 90’s, but it seems like it hasn’t really changed with the times. The dineLA menu didn’t include some of the dishes the restaurant is most famous for (like the miso Chilean sea bass and Grand Marnier souffle); however, these dishes did not exactly inspire me to return and try those out.
I agree with your assessment.
I enjoyed my meal at Maison Akira a few years back, but with that said, it wasn’t anything memorable. Though the Chilean sea bass there was quite delicious!
Maybe I should’ve tried the sea bass last time. With so many other things to try in LA, I don’t feel like returning any time soon, even for that fish..