Los Angeles Food & Wine: Lunch By Iron Chef Morimoto and Sara Johannes at WP24

Peking Style Duck | Warm Chanterelle Salad, Duck Skin Cracklin, 10-Spice Confit Figs - Chef Sara Johannes

I’m always appreciative of opportunities to try visiting chefs’ food. A couple weeks ago, on the occasion of the Lexus-sponsored Los Angeles Food & Wine‘s 70-event extravaganza, I had the chance to do so at one of the Friday afternoon not-so-power lunches held all over town (Though in the case of Chef “star power,” yes – it was very powerful). It was held at WP24 in conjuction with Executive Chef Sara Johannes, who contributed half of the 4 courses served at the sold-out lunch.

Kin Medai Snapper w/Geoduck, Papaya, Peanuts & Coconut Foam - Chef Masaharu Morimoto

With his title as one of the winningest Iron Chefs no doubt contributing to the buzz, Chef Morimoto and Chef Johannes sent out passed appetizers, a couple of which I never got to try. I’ll have to return to try out those seared foie gras bao buns and steamed XO scallops with hot oil, scallions & ginger – but the spoonfuls of Parmesan “Tofu” and Lobster & Scallop Shiu Mais were tasty enough as starters.

The true standouts, though, were the four courses at the center of the lunch. Never had I had geoduck so tender and the snapper tasted nothing short of beautiful. The papaya and coconut foam were perfect touches to the seafood. It was a refreshing start, and I couldn’t wait for more.

The next course that came up was Sara Johannes’ (and WP24’s) masterpiece – a Peking Style Duck Breast. It came with Warm Chantrelle Salad, the frisee of which tasted like roasted mushrooms, and Ten-Spiced Confit Figs and Smoked Duck Cracklin’. The cracklin was indeed a very nice touch, making a hyperbole of the importance of a crispy duck skin. The figs really completed the platter, adding a tenderized, spice component to the perfectly-cooked richness of the duck. I have to say that this was probably the best dish I’ve had in a very long time.

Washugyu Flat Iron w/Veal Cheek Tempura, Compressed Apple & Chili Soy - Chef Masuharu Morimoto

The Washugyu (a hybrid between Japanese Black Wagyu and fine American Black Angus) flat iron steak was incredibly delicious thanks to its beautiful marbling, but what really floored me was the tenderness of the veal cheeks within their slight, tempura breading. The veal cheeks were probably twice as tender as the already soft beef. The sweet soy was subtle enough to really enhance the flavors of the meat and let the cuts sing on their own.

The dessert that concluded our afternoon was no less impressive than any of the other courses, thanks to brand-new-to-WP24 pastry chef Cassie Ballard. Sure, you couldn’t really tell it was edamame ice cream until you read the menu (after that, it all clicks), but that sesame crisp is so simple yet ingenius. And tasty. Coupled with a Caramel Roasted Apple tart and Butterscotch Miso, the dessert really comes together. It was light enough weight to elegantly close out the wonderful lunch yet left all our sweet teeth satisfied (hello, caramel!).

If the food at WP24 is anything like the refined courses I had during this particular Lexus-sponsored Los Angeles Food & Wine event, it’s clear that there is much, much more to a reservation there than its stellar, downtown views. And now, for that special occasion to make that return visit…

All food & wine were hosted.

Center map

Sun – Thur

5 – 10 PM

Fri – Sat

5 – 11 PM

Dining Room:
Mon – Thur

5:30 – 10 PM

Fri – Sat

5:30 – 10:30 PM

Closed Sunday

900 W Olympic Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90015

I Can’t Even Cook Virtually: Food Network’s Cook Or Be Cooked Video Game

A video game that teaches you how to cook? I was skeptical, but I’d long ago dropped off the gaming dabbler grid. Besides, there really is no topic untackled by the gaming industry anymore. The grey area between social (e.g. Facebook quizzes) and core gaming (e.g. WoW) is growing wider and wider and Wii is just the console to facilitate that.

Also at Hipcooks West for our special night was Caroline on Crack, Neil of Food Marathon, TaraMetBlog, FoodGPS, and Lindsay of LAist. It was a fun night of canoodling and game play.

Iron Chef and James Beard Award-winning Michael Symon was there to try his hand at cooking alongside the game, called Food Network: Cook or Be Cooked! by Bandai Namco. I was hoping for a really complex dish so Symon’s virtuosity could at least be partially displayed – to make things interesting – but he ended up making broccoli and chicken, one of the medium difficulty recipes in the game. The lead developer, Michael Morishita, was there to play the very game he programmed. What was interesting about this arrangement is that you could see for the most part that the game takes into account real cooking disciplines such as multi-tasking. All right – also, simulated dicing, stirring and flipping – and even heating up the pan before you cook in it. Michael’s bubbly-yet-down-to-earth personality made the demo really fun to watch as well.

There was nothing “strictly social” about this game, however. It took me forever to make an easy recipe – that dish being spaghetti and meatballs – and once I had finally finished, the judges took a bite and started turning over chairs and heaving over the table. Virtually. And I was literally bad at this game. Meh. My excuse? I was busy stuffing h’ors doeurves (recipes from Chef Symon himself) in my face while playing the game. It’s called priorities!

If I had a Wii, I might use this as a launching point since heck, I need all the help I can get – including the basics. It’s almost like your own personal cooking teacher. The main drawback: You don’t get to eat what you cook! Or in my case that might be a perk.

Time to practice.

See my Cook or Be Cooked! Flickr Set

Further reading: Caroline on Crack – Cook or Be Cooked Video Game Blogger Party

TaraMetBlog – Cooking on Wii With Chef Michael Symon