Wednesday, October 2, 2019

K's Birthday Dinner at Shun

Around a month ago, I treated K to a birthday dinner at Shun, a newly-opened restaurant from chef Alain Verzeroli. The food was absolutely delicious, and also really beautiful to look at, and the service was great. Portions were also a bit more generous than what I expected, based on past experience at similar restaurants. We ordered the four-course prix fixe, but would definitely have been full on three courses instead. 

To the left is a seaweed roll, and to the right is a miso roll. Both were absolutely delicious, some of my favorite breads ever.

One standout feature at Shun is the bread. During our dinner, they served us three bread courses. The seaweed roll and miso roll pictured above were the first bread course, and both were delicious. This may be somewhat sacrilegious but I'm not typically a huge fan of bread. I don't dislike it, but at most restaurants, I'm satisfied with a small piece. And I often wouldn't really miss it if there wasn't any bread served. I'm saving room in my stomach for the rest of the meal!

But the bread at Shun was amazing. This seaweed roll and miso roll were both among my favorite breads that I've ever eaten anywhere. Both are savory and unique in different ways, the seaweed one is a bit saltier than the miso. If I had to pick between the two of them, I liked the miso one better, but both were delicious. I started with the seaweed roll and was telling K it was the best bread I'd ever had, until I tried the miso roll. 

Sea urchin custard with fennel emulsion.

The sea urchin custard that I chose as my first course isn't as photogenic as a lot of their other dishes. The best part of it, a generous portion of uni, is completely hidden under all that foam. The portion size on this felt particularly generous, given that it's very rich in texture and flavor, and doesn't have too much variety in texture. (Because I also love chawan mushi and other steamed egg dishes, I definitely didn't mind having a large portion of savory custard.)

Lobster lemongrass with romano beans and leeks, cooked with lots of butter.

This is the lobster lemongrass dish that both K and I selected as our second course. Again, the portion was very generous, essentially half a lobster. It's beautifully plated, though I don't think my photo quite does justice to how the dish looked.

Duck a l'orange, served with fig and cassis.

I had the duck a l'orange as my third course, which is absolutely gorgeous on the plate, as you can see above. But it was K's dish, the wagyu ribcap, that was the actual standout dish.

Whenever I see the words "wagyu" or "kobe" on the menu at a restaurant where the menu is more western than not, I'm a bit skeptical, partially thanks to this past interview with Anthony Bourdain (gone too soon and forever my favorite food writer). But my judgment on this point was definitely premature and unfair in this instance, as the wagyu ribcap dish at Shun is fantastic, with wonderful texture and flavor. I tried a bite, and had serious food envy.

Not a great photo, oops, but I think the strawberry sudachi "stone" still looks beautiful. It was also delicious! And the free cake we got because it was K's birthday was pretty good too, though you can't see it that clearly in this photo.

This strawberry sudachi "stone" might be Shun's most photogenic dessert, and it actually does taste as good as it looks. It's also fairly light in texture inside the marbled white chocolate shell, which I appreciated after such a big meal. The combination of strawberry and citrus flavors is great.

Not pictured are the amuse bouche, which was a fresh tofu dish, and a palate cleanser of melon sorbet that was served before dessert. K really enjoyed his birthday dinner, as did I. Shun is a bit fancier and more hip in ambience than a lot of the restaurants we typically pick for each others' birthday dinners (past choices in recent years included Gr'amercy Tavern, Nomad, Blue Hill at the Greenwich Village location, and Cafe Boulud, all of which we also loved), and we had a good time.

The only detail at Shun that we thought was a little odd was the music they played, which I don't think is a common feature at many restaurants? It was very elevator music-like, reminding me of the opening of Zero 7's "In the Waiting Line." (Anyone else remember the Garden State soundtrack?) 

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