I’ve eaten at several molecular gastronom-themed restaurants over the years (The Molecular Tapas Bar, Les Creations de Narisawa, Aronia de Takazawa) as well as restaurants that have offered occasional molecular-inspired menu items – but these have all been in Tokyo. Last night, I finally sampled one in North America when I dined at E by Jose Andres in the Jaleo Restaurant in the Cosmopolitan Hotel. I’ve already explained how I happened across an intriguing passing mention of this (purportedly) secret restaurant, an eight-seater, that can only be booked through a secret email. Fortunately, my google-fu was strong and a search for “e by jose andres secret email” turned up very positive results. I booked and had been looking forward to the meal ever since. And the recent arrival of my golden access tickets days prior to my departure only intensified the excitement.
I never thought my life could be...anything but catastrophe...but suddenly I begin to see a bit of good luck for me...'cause I've got a golden ticket...I've a golden twinkle in my eye.
Marty G., dressed appropriately for the weird and wacky night ahead
As much as I was looking forward to this meal, I’d say my fellow foodie Martin Gero was equally thrilled at the prospect of the culinary theatrics that lay ahead. We arrived, as instructed, well in advance of our seating, and enjoyed a drink at the bar while we waited for the rest of our dining companions to show. This would be theater after all. Delicious theater, but theater nevertheless, and the audience would have to be seated before the show could commence.
Our view of Jaleo, the restaurant within which E is located. Also a Jose Andres joint and one I'm making a point to check out the next time I blow through town.
When the rest of our dining party showed, we were finally ushered through an innocuous-looking door and into the mini restaurant comprised of bar seating which allowed all participants an unobstructed view of the proceedings.
As we prepared for our meal, I asked one of our genial servers, Anthony, about the presumed “no picture” policy. He explained that flash photography was not permitted (understandable in most high end restaurants) and that while the snapping of the occasional pic was not frowned upon, incessant photography, it was felt, tended to detract from the meal. “Bloggers,”he confided.
The meal went something like this. It was comprised of three parts: appetizers, mains, and desserts…
Stephanie kicks things off by concocting a wicked brew using liquid nitrogen and sangria.
Frozen Sangria and Grilled Strawberries. The warm sweet strawberries were in marked contrast to the boozy sangria that had the consistency of a slushy - albeit an adult slushy. To be honest, I'm not a fan of sangria, but I do like it in slushy version.
Caramelized Pork Rinds. The lightest pork rinds I've ever eaten, both sweet and savory. If they sold these at the concession stand, I'd start going to see movies at the theater again.
Spanish "Clavel". Named after a flower, the dish is actually - if memory serves me right - papered yogurt. Melt-in-your mouth sweet and slightly sour.
Beet Jewlery. Served up, appropriately enough, in a jewlery box: dehydrated beet curls sprinkled with gold dust. It packed so much intense sweet and salty beet favor in such a tiny crispy bite. One of my favorites.
Membrillo and La Serena Cone. Quince and La Serena cheese in a sweet cone. Another contrast of tastes (sweet, salty, slighly sour) and textures (creamy, crispy and crunchy).
Apple "Brazo de Gitano". This one is hard to describe - the cheese espuma was injected into the light firm foam that instantly dissolved in my mouth. Another intensely flavored dish that also ranked as one of my faves.
Jose Taco & Artichoke with Caviar. Fried artichoke and caviar. Iberico-wrapped caviar. Phenomenal. Akemi's favorite.
Bocata de "Calamares". Actually, an uni roll - fried sea urchin, aioli, and cucmber in a mini brioche baguette. Yet another favorite. I haven't stopped thinking about this dish and am already thinking about how I can replicate it back home.
It turns out that two of my fellow diners were also visiting from Vancouver – and were hitting the same restaurants we were on this culinary circuit: e by Jose Andres, Guy Savoy, and Joel Robuchon.
Ellaine and Yonnie from Van City.
According to our server, Stephanie, the restaurant has entertained a disproportionate number of guests from Canada – clearly home of the foodies.
Ajo Blanco. Bead, nuts, olive oil and a couple of mystery ingredients I don't recall.
Finished with almond milk. Interesting but not among my faves.
Jose Andres' beer. Apparently, he created it to specifically pair with certain foods. I'm not a huge beer drinker but thought this version was qutie tasty and very drinkable.
Santa Barara Spotted Prawn with Roses. Langoustine served in a sauce made from the head of the langoustine and accompanied by dollops of rose foam. The rose flavor was very subtle and I almost missed it entirely. The langoustines were delicious.
Smokey Oysters in Escabeche. Oysters were encased in a gel of their liquor and smoked along with some pearl onions.
Topped with toasted honey air.
Catch of the Day. Turbot served with black garlic and topped with citrus pearls. A wonderfully accomplished dish, its ingredients coming together with surprising subtlety.
Whole Lobe of Foie Gras Baked in Salt
Sitting atop a cacao smear -
And served with an orange sauce. Probably the lightest foie I've ever had.
Secreto of Iberico Pork. It's called "secreto" because, apparently, not many know about the meat sourced from between two layers of fat from the pig's shoulder.
Black truffles. $$$!
Interestingly enough, the only other time I tried the Secreto of Iberico was at another molecular restaurant - The Molecular Tapas Bar in Tokyo's Madarin Oriental Hotel.
And then we moved on to dessert…
Orange with Puree La Serena. La Serena cheese served with an orange puree, topped with basil and pumpkin seeds.
Plating the next dish.
- Frozen Apricot Coulant. A fruit-based version of the molten-centered chocolate cake was one of the stand-outs of the evening. I never thought I’d say this, but I preferred this version!
Pedro Ximenez 1982. One of my favorite dessert wines!
Apples & Red Wine "Fredy Giradet". Vanilla ice cream with apples two-way - apple spheres and apple jelly encased in gel capsules.
Plating the next dish.
25 Second Bizcocho. Cooked for twenty-five seconds in a microwave. Tasty, very unique.
Our affable hosts take a bow.
To finish - Chocolates. Saffron milk chocolate and dark chocolate "air" with sea salt.
My culinary wingman is BACK and flying in high style!
What a dinner! What a show!