Friday, February 3, 2012

Los Angeles: Hello Ludobites 8.0!!

So LudoBites is currently going on, now in its 8th edition. The reservation this time around is based on a lottery system, so whether you get a reservation is completely based on luck and if the slot they give you doesn't work, then you lose the reservation. I heard from LudoBites that it was only a 5% chance. Somehow... I was able to score a table for four this past Monday (1/30/2012)! Of course I replied and said yes :]

Same as last time, we ordered EVERYTHING on the menu. We were afraid that with just the four of us (Michael, Ray, Diana & me), we weren't going to finish everything, but figured, what the hell, only 5% of the people scored a reservation, might as well go all out! This LudoBites was definitely more... decadent and luxurious than the last in my opinion. Ingredients more exotic and there's more of a fusion from different cuisines. A lot of Japanese influence this time around. A few items really stood out while a few we didn't care too much for. There were also a few that totally surprised us in terms of the flavor and the preparation.

LudoBites 8.0 @ Lemon Moon
12200 W Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90064

LudoBites for Monday, January 30th :]

saison rue
Unlike last time, there's an actual wine & beer list since Lemon Moon does have the alcohol license. It wasn't a wine sort of night for our party so we went with the 750ml beers on the menu, both from The Bruery in OC. The Saison Rue is a light Belgian and perfect beer to start the night with.

saison rue
Really good Belgian, with a hint of fruity note. Saison generally refers to a French farmhouse pale ale with low alcohol content, but the Saison Rue has about 8.0% and unfiltered so you can actually age the beer!

brioche seaweed yuzu butter
First up: Brioche with Seaweed Yuzu Butter! Now... what part about that does not sound good? Buttery brioche bread then smeared with a "healthy" dose of the seaweed yuzu butter. The yuzu just pops. We split the bread 4-ways and there was a little bit of butter left over from the knife... so I just licked the butter. Yum :]

chicken tandoori crackling
We absolutely loved the Chicken Tandoori Crackling. Fried chicken skin with tandoori spices, then topped with liver mousse and sea salt. The whole thing is a bit salty but we didn't really care cause it was so damn good! Who doesn't like crispy chicken skin?? It looked like a pita chip with some hummus on top, but nope, it is chicken skin!

big eye tuna, tahitian vanilla, somen, 7 flavor vinaigrette
So the meal started out with a dish with Japanese influence (yuzu), the Big Eye Tuna with Tahitian Vanilla, Somen, Basil and Seven Flavor Vinaigrette is straight up Japanese-esque with the exception of the basil. Tuna was great and the basil is very refreshing. I'm going to guess the seven flavor means the seven spice Japanese or Chinese uses. The somen was a little meh.

sweet shrimp, miso cream, smoked salmon, cannellini
Another dish with Japanese influence: Sweet Shrimp with Miso Cream, Smoked Salmon, and Cannellini Beans. The miso cream was definitely the star in this dish and the creaminess went very well with the smoky smoked salmon.

raw beef, radish, beets, eel
Like last time, there's a beef tartare dish: Raw Beef with Radish, Beets, and Eel.

raw beef
Right beside the raw beef, there's this frozen thing... I do not know what it is but it is sorta frozen by nitrogen or something.... it was good hahah.

my creation
My little creation!

awesome beer
We decided to go with the Trois Poules Francais from The Bruery for our second bottle of beer, which is this Belgian-style dark ale that's brewed with syrah grapes and then aged in wine barrel! You definitely taste the tart acidic grape and all the usual flavors you'd associate with wine, except in a beer! The sommelier referred to it as a sour-mash style beer. I've always wondered what wine + beer would taste like, although I'm sure it won't taste as good as this in real life :P

trois poules francais
Absolutely amazing beer. The first sip is very surprising with the tartness hitting you right away. I actually tried to find it at Bevmo and Total Wine but they sold out months ago since it was a winter release. Boo. I did find 4 bottles of Saison Rue at Total Wine and cleaned out their inventory haha.

foie gras, tamarin, turnips, daikon
Foie Gras with Tamarin, Turnips, and Daikon. The flavors are very surprising and totally wakes you up thanks to the tamarin. I never had foie gras in a soup either so that was a very interesting experience. It's almost like.... eating uni. In fact, it tastes like uni!

foie gras
Soft... smooth and melt-in-your-mouth foie gras.

scallops, leek, potato, black truffles
Scallops with Leek and Potato Sauce then topped with Shaved Black Truffle. I heart truffle so I could not wait to dive into this dish. Truffle oil is a common ingredient nowadays with many restaurants serving up some sort of dish utilizing the oil, but if you've never had fresh truffle... it is totally different. The flavors are much more subtle and earthy, instead of the intense flavor from the oil.

raw scallops
The sauces were a nice complement to the shaved truffle. Not a huuuuge fan of raw scallop but it was fresh at least :P

john dory, squash, fennel, tonka beans,
John Dory with Squash, Fennel, Tonka Beans, and Lemon sauce. John Dory is a name for a type of fish, and not a pretty one :P However, when pan fried then topped with all sorts of sauces, it was pretty good. The lemon sauce to the side was definitely the best since lemon + seafood just go so well together.

monkfish liver, cucumber, cornichons, mustard seeds
I didn't care too much for the Monkfish Liver with Cumcumber, Cornichons, and Mustard Seeds. There's already too much "liver" by the time we got to this dish with foie and the mousse.

monkfish liver
The few bites I did take was good though since the liver had a very buttery texture and when paired with the pickled cucumber, it was a nice contrast.

pickles & mustard
Pickled cucumber and the sweet mustard seeds.

duck, orange, olives, carrots
Like last time, there's also a duck dish: Duck with Orange, Carrots, and Olive Spread. Duck with skin still on it = win. I did like the duck a lot more this time than LudoBites 007's.

Sweetness from the sauce goes very well with the salty olive spread. Loved the candied orange peel too!

jidori half chicken, parmesan, celery root soubise, walnuts
Biggest entree of the night: Jidori Half Chicken with Parmesan, Celery Root Soubise, and Walnuts.

jidori chicken
It is also my favorite "main dish" of the night. The chicken was super tender and moist. Michael was not a fan of the celery root "foam" but I liked it :P

goat cheese profiteroles, pistachio, crispy leaves
Goat Cheese Profiteroles with Pistachio Spread and Crispy Leaves. The only dish that night that I didn't like. Profiteroles is essentially a cream puff but I didn't get too much from the goat cheese and the crispy leaves, most likely kale, weren't crispy enough so it was really oily. The pistachio spread though, was A+. Give me toast and I'll be happy with just the pistachio spread haha.

goat cheese profiteroles
... totally forgot about that green sauce but that's not the pistachio spread :P Pistachio is underneath the profiterole, with that mustard green color.

open kitchen
Chef Ludo on the right working hard haha.

lemon meringue & poppyseed crumble
Of course, gotta go for the desserts! This time around, there's no weird and crazy combinations, just classics with a little twist. My favorite out of the two they offered was the Lemon Meringue & Poppyseed Crumble with Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It is essentially a deconstructed lemon meringue pie with the poppyseed crumble acting as the pie crust. Strong lemon flavors with the light & fluffy meringue, the dessert is give a bit more fruity flavor with the EVOO. There's also some candied lemon peel!

apple tartin & ice cream
Apple Tart Tartine with Salted Caramel and Orange Creamsicle Ice Cream. A very... nostalgic sorta dessert with a LudoBites version of apple pie and a flavor from many people's childhood, orange creamsicle. The salted caramel sorta brings you back with the nutty buttery sweetness. There's also these little seeds on the side, and we guessed it was fennel seeds? That was interesting, but we mostly left it alone :P

apple tart tartin
Apple tart tartine and the salted caramel. Apples were not too mushy and still had a bite.

orange dreamsicle ice cream
Orange creamsicle ice cream. I want more.

All in all, we had a great time, sampling all the dishes. LudoBites is really more about the experience and eating a dish that you probably won't see ever again. In the end our bill was about $97 per person... so it is a little pricey. I was a bit sad that I didn't get to try the Uni Creme Brulee since it was the most popular dish served this time. However they couldn't source the uni from their supplier so they didn't offer it that night... sigh. Since the menu changes daily, with some staples, everybody's LudoBites experience can be different.

Maybe I'll do a walk-in...