Sunday, March 24, 2013

Asian Fusion Food

Ame in SFAsian inspired cuisine is now pretty much mainstream in the Bay Area.  While it takes some hunting to locate the authentic tastes and flavors are the Far East, every other restaurant now has dishes crafted with Asian ingredients while others have melded staples from Japan, Korea, and Thailand with a Californian ethos.

Ame clearly stands out in its Asian inspired creations, but I can also think of Benu, a relatively recent addition to the thriving high-end restaurant scene in San Francisco.  At the low end of the price spectrum, I run into some cool and interesting places every now and then.  My most recent discovery was the delightful Asian Box in a Palo Alto shopping area.  This little 'fast food' place puts an interesting twist on Vietnamese food.  With sustainable ingredients, fresh greens and meats, this food has become an addiction whenever I stay in a hotel close by.

Asian Box Palo Alto

Back at Ame, with its good sake list, I spent another evening marvelling at the expert treatment of Japanese ingredients by its well-known local chef, Hino Sone, who has combined the local Californian with his native Japanese so well.

Sake at Ame in SF

The wafer thin selection of sashimi was almost a work of art.  Its delicate form and colors so pleasing to the eye that it seemed a pity to finally use my chopsticks to place them in my mouth.

Sashimi trio at Ame in SF

Sashimi at Ame in SF

Sashimi at Ame in SF

The veloute of cauliflower was very pleasing too.  I am particularly touchy about the temperature at which soups are served, and Ame gets it right every time.

Cauliflower veloute at Ame in SF

I never leave without the shisho marinated cod, and this time was no different.  This dish best illustrates the beauty of distinctively Japanese ingredients that work so well here.

Cod at Ame in SF

The braised lamb shank was rich and very filling and served with some risotto. This dish was perhaps the least Japanese inspired and probably designed to make sure big American got their money's worth.

  Lamb shank at Ame in SF

Finally the colorful sorbet trio that cheers you up on its black lacquered plate.  That dinner was incredibly satisfying and I could have said so even if I had missed my entree of lamb shank.

Sorbet at Ame in SF

BTW, for some inspired Vietnamese food with a Californian twist in upscale surroundings, I have found Tamarin in Palo Alto to be particularly exciting. Which reminds me - I need to visit there some time; it has been a while.

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