Eel, feuille de brick – Benu

Project 365: Day 105

I’m learning a lot at this conference – mostly about labor laws and conflict resolution. There’s a lot of information being thrown at us and I’m trying to take in as much as I can. I ran over to The Bellagio and had lunch at Todd English’s Olives. We were only given a short lunch today, so I barely made it back to the conference on time. We have a reception this evening where they will be providing basic drinks and oeur d’oeuvres. I think that since I’ve been pigging out way too much this trip, I’ll attend that and forgo having dinner afterward.

Eel, feuille de brick Benu

With creme fraiche and lime. Pre fixe dinner $180
Benu, San Francisco

Ok, let’s just call this an eel cigarette! This wrapped eel dish was really small, but tasty nonetheless. It was difficult to get a really nice eel flavor since there was only a sliver of it inside the feuille de brick. I appreciated the delicateness of it especially since its fried.

Eel, feuille de brick Benu

It looks like a smiley face!

Creme fraiche and lime Benu

Creme fraiche and lime.

Caramelized anchovy – Benu

Caramelized anchovy Benu

With lily bulb, peanut, and pickles. Pre fixe dinner $180
Benu, San Francisco

I think the caramelized anchovy was actually the reddish, dome shaped gelee with more slices of lily bulb embedded inside. There were a few pieces of lily bulb scattered on the plate in addition to dried fish and pickle. I don’t know what the soft, white gelatinous cubes were. This dish totally brought me back to Filipino flavors and textures though. It struck me as odd to get that memory while eating at Benu!

Caramelized anchovy Benu

Monkfish liver – Benu

Project 365: Day 104

The conference began today, and I’m both excited and dreading it. There’s people from all over the country and let me just say that the wardrobe is across the board. There are people in shorts and sandals, and there are others (like myself) in pressed slacks and dress shirts. It’s also during times like these that I wish I worked at a place where they can at least afford to provide coffee during breaks, hehe. The coffee in the lobby costs nearly $5 and doesn’t taste very good. I ran over to Caesars Palace to grab lunch at the bar at Mesa Grill. I’m not a huge fan of Bobby Flay, but I wanted to give his restaurant a go. It was pretty good and the bar service was friendly and expedient.

I kind of got carried away after the conference. I went for an early drink (Manhattan) and snacks (clam chowder and raw oysters) at P.J. Clarke’s, then went with a colleague for a full-on dinner at Grand Lux Cafe. Suffice it to say that I totally over-ate! Ugh, I have NO self-control when it comes to food.

Monkfish liver Benu

With caviar, pistachio, cauliflower, lemon jelly, and brioche. Pre fixe dinner $180
Benu, San Francisco

This was a very decadent course. It tasted great, but it was definitely on the heavy side. I’m still not sure what all the components were. The green crumbles were dried pistachio, but I’m not sure what the green blob was – it didn’t taste like lemon jelly. The orange disc was the monkfish liver. I got one! 🙂

Monkfish liver Benu

So many components, so little time (and tummy space, hehe)!

Brioche Benu

Brioche. So rich and buttery.

Thousand year old quail egg – Benu

Thousand year old quail egg Benu

With potage, ginger, and micro greens. Pre fixe dinner $180
Benu, San Francisco

I guess potage is a kind of thick soup. I must say that the potage was the best part of this dish! It had such a depth of flavor. Everybody has made such a fuss about the thousand year old quail egg, but unfortunately it doesn’t taste like anything! It’s more a texture in the dish than a flavor. This dish was beautiful though and I loved the bowl it was served in.

Thousand year old quail egg Benu

7×7 Magazine’s The Big Eat San Francisco: 100 Things to Eat + Drink Before You Die – 2011

Oyster, pork belly, kimchi – Benu

Project 365: Day 103

Today I flew to Las Vegas to attend a work conference which starts tomorrow. I’ll admit that I’m not a big fan of Vegas as a vacation destination. I don’t like the majority of tourists and everything is ridiculously overpriced. Vegas is a place that I can’t truly relax, even poolside. There’s inevitably going to be a bunch of douche-y college kids (and adults for that matter) partying it up WAY too hard in a trashy way. Oh well, what can you do? To each he’s own. It makes for AMAZING people watching though. Besides the conference, I’m going to try and focus on the food to keep me busy. I don’t have any plans tonight but I’ll probably hit up Secret Pizza at The Cosmopolitan for a quick bite, then head to a local bar off The Strip to relax and take the edge off.

Oyster, pork belly, kimchi Benu

Pre fixe dinner $180
Benu, San Francisco

Every dish at Benu has so many ingredients that it’s often difficult to know what every component is or how it’s incorporated into the dish. This was the second course, and I’m gonna say that it was one of my favorites! This small bite was presented on a wooden pedestal and you’re urged to eat it quickly because the warm filling might melt through the thin cellophane-y container. As proof of my ignorance, I’m still not sure where the kimchi was in this, hehe.

Oyster, pork belly, kimchi Benu

Beautiful and delicious!

Lavash bread Benu

Lavash bread. Complimentary

Japanese deer tartare – Benu

Project 365: Day 17

Had a busy day-before-my-birthday day! Woke up with my lovey, stayed in bed and randomly caught a Streetfighter movie on TV (Legend of Chun Li or something like that, lol), went to the gym, got my hair did, had lunch downtown, picked up my wool and seersucker blazers from the tailor, did computer stuff, then had an AMAZING birthday dinner at Benu!

The dinner had 17 courses and lasted 3.5 hours! That’s pretty good if you ask me. I once had a pre fixe dinner in the Jewel Box at Mistral Kitchen in Seattle that lasted almost 4 hours, too. I honestly LOVE long dinners. They’re super relaxing and the food is almost always spectacular at these nice establishments. I thoroughly enjoyed this year’s birthday dinner. The food was SO delicious and the service was impeccable. (Anybody want to hit up French Laundry next?)

Afterward went to the Castro for some drinks but I didn’t last very long. I was SO frickin’ full and could barely move.

Can’t wait for brunch with T-Head and RSL tomorrow, then getting trashed with even more friends at Badlands!

Japanese deer tartare Benu

Served with artichoke mayonnaise and walnut bread. Pre fixe dinner $180
Benu, San Francisco

When I saw this dish on the menu, I was very intrigued. I’ve had venison before, but never as a tartare. The deer had a surprisingly clean flavor. I expected it be very gamey, dark and tough, but it tasted pretty neutral. Most of the flavor from this dish came from the artichoke mayonnaise, walnut bread, and whatever the freeze dried crumbles were on the plate.

Japanese deer tartare Benu

All the plates duirng dinner were beautiful! They were small poritons, but after 17 courses I was stuffed. The plates looked simple at a glanced but they had a lot of different components.

I’ll post the rest of the dishes soon!

Walnut bread Benu

Walnut bread. Even the bread was fantastic!

Dom Perignon champagne 1993

Moet e Chandon a Epernay, Champagne, Cuvee Dom Perignon, 1993. $40 corkage
Silverfox had this bottle of champagne laying around and he decided to pop the cork for my birthday dinner, aww! That’s a good thing because Benu had bottles of Dom Perignon 1996 and 1995 for $750 and $957, respectively. Ouch! We got away with only paying corkage.

Dom Perignon champagne 1993

The boxed bottle of champagne is just asking to be opened!

Corey Lee signed menu

Menu signed by chef Corey Lee. This was a cute surprise at the end of the meal. We had menus at our table the entire time to keep up with what we were eating, but those were taken away at the end and replaced with a couple signed menus.