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Z Kitchen


BryanZ
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Bryan Z,

I know you are down with the Uni.. I had a thought the other day. An Oyster Po Boy with an Uni A-O-Lee...

I was still trying to perfect the Uni Alfredo... My Uni ravioli is just about there.

We had an absolutely spectacular uni/pasta dish at the Four Seasons Marunouchi in Tokyo earlier this year (the restaurant in general was good - but this dish was amazing). Perhaps it is something about the uni in Japan - or the pasta - or perhaps it was just the chef's secret recipe. Don't know. If you have some time on your hands - perhaps you could try to contact the chef there - tell him a hotel guest loved the dish - etc. - and find out how he did it. It might take you a while to find the right email address - try finding the email for the concierge desk (which I have deleted) through the hotel chain reservations phone number - and work from there. As I recall - perhaps incorrectly - the chef was European and spoke English. Good luck. Robyn

P.S. Here's the chef and his dish (pasta in uni cream sauce). He's from Craft in NYC - didn't know that.

Edited by robyn (log)
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  • 2 weeks later...

I cooked tonight. Vegetarian. It was a challenge, but I think it went well. I couldn't even use animal-based stocks and broths.

Here are some of the dishes.

Spicy zucchini, potatoes, baby corn, cauliflower puree, slow-cooked egg

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Another take on carbonated grapes, this time as a cheese plate.

Carbonated grapes, almond powder, Chapel Hill Creamery cheese

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The first attempt at hot ice cream

Vanilla, chocolate chip cookie, strawberries sous vide, chocolate

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I will discuss the hot ice cream further in the methocel thread.

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  • 2 weeks later...

BTW, I feel terribly remiss in not having posted my thoughts from my evening at Z Kitchen. Unfortunately, unexpected circumstances have forced me to be exceedingly busy at Jujube of late so I simply have not finished my report.

Long story short, I thought the meal was outstanding as did the rest of my party. Besides serving interesting but more importantly delicious food, Bryan is very charming and a fine host. Any critques I have (which I will at somepoint finally share) were minor. As I said to him that night, I really thought his meal was much better than the one I had at Mini-bar in DC not long ago. While that one seemed to be about cooking, his seemed to be about food first. A very important distinction.

At any rate, gotta go, but I just wanted to mention...

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While [MINIBAR] seemed to be about cooking, his seemed to be about food first.  A very important distinction.

Can you all elaborate on this distinction? I am definitely a food amateur, and at times this thread of Bryan's has intimidated me, especially given the fact that he too is an amateur and yet is clearly so talented and putting together some incredible meals, by any standard. But in the end, I lean toward a variation of what Duke Ellington said: if it tastes good it is good. So help me understand what is going on here. I'm not talking about educating me on the techniques. I'm more interested in, What are we gaining by this direction in cooking? Is it something analagous to what, say, a postmodern examination of modern of some artisitic piece might provide us in terms of insight into the work of art?

Or is it more like what a (excuse my ignorance here) discordant piece of music might tell us about our own understanding of music? i.e. it sucks to listen to, but it is nevertheless interesting.

Or something else entirely?

I pose those questions not because I lean toward any particular answer, but because I'm ignorant and curious.

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While [MINIBAR] seemed to be about cooking, his seemed to be about food first.  A very important distinction.

Can you all elaborate on this distinction? I am definitely a food amateur, and at times this thread of Bryan's has intimidated me, especially given the fact that he too is an amateur and yet is clearly so talented and putting together some incredible meals, by any standard. But in the end, I lean toward a variation of what Duke Ellington said: if it tastes good it is good. So help me understand what is going on here. I'm not talking about educating me on the techniques. I'm more interested in, What are we gaining by this direction in cooking? Is it something analagous to what, say, a postmodern examination of modern of some artisitic piece might provide us in terms of insight into the work of art?

Or is it more like what a (excuse my ignorance here) discordant piece of music might tell us about our own understanding of music? i.e. it sucks to listen to, but it is nevertheless interesting.

Or something else entirely?

I pose those questions not because I lean toward any particular answer, but because I'm ignorant and curious.

I'd be happy to. In general, I'm not inclined to buy the whole molecular gastronomy thing hook line and sinker but appreciate the energy behind it. Provided, of course, that these techniques are a means to an end and not simply culinary masturbation. As in every movement, there are those who are really artists and those who grab that same bag of tricks and create something, perhaps less inspired. I'm quite confident that this movement is no exception.

As to the comparison I gave. The phrase, "Wow that's cool" was uttered often during our meal at Minibar, but rarely the phrase, "Wow, that's delicious". Thus, I think they missed the point and let the pursuit of shock value overtake the pursuit of satisfaction. In this case, it was not unlike the oft-satired foods of the late 80s "Teriyaki buffalo taco with mango-mustard seed genache and epazote coulis". This is not to say my meal at MiniBar was without it's high points because there were certainly dishes that I was very jazzed about. It may simply come down to the fact that they were trying to keep it up for 37 courses. That said, a meal at Manresa a few summers ago was equally ambitious in terms of courses but was on-point essentially throughout.

My dinner at Z kitchen did not resemble this. Frankly, in many cases, I wondered why the term "hyper-modern" was being used. It just seemed like a really tasty plate of food. Further examination and discussion revealed that he was actually using some rather innovative means to achieving these dishes but I wouldn't have known. When something was obviously different, like the carbonated fruit, it was excitingly good. The thought, "Well that was an interesting idea, but I don't think I'd want a second helping" never came up.

I hope this clarifies things for you.

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I'm posting this because it's my first truly fall-y meal, an autumnal overdrive if you will. Too bad it was like 80 degrees today.

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The hot ice cream turned out quite well tonight thanks to guidance of Rocklobster. My camera's battery died though, so I couldn't take a picture.

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My dinner at Z kitchen did not resemble this.  Frankly, in many cases, I wondered why the term "hyper-modern" was being used.  It just seemed like a really tasty plate of food.  Further examination and discussion revealed that he was actually using some rather innovative means to achieving these dishes but I wouldn't have known.  When something was obviously different, like the carbonated fruit, it was excitingly good.  The thought, "Well that was an interesting idea, but I don't think I'd want a second helping" never came up.

This seems to me to be pretty high praise. Good job, Bryan. Even better for being non-pretentious.

:wink:

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  • 3 weeks later...

I had the pleasure of meeting eG member umbabaru this evening along with his wife and other friends. I think a good time was had by all.

Here's what I cooked.

gallery_28496_3717_38972.jpg

I was finally able to take some pictures, too. Some dishes are similar to those I have made before, and this again speaks to the conflict between my desire to constantly innovate and the reality of having to recreate successful dishes.

Anyway, some of the pictures are better than others.

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Toast with truffle butter was served on the side.

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Before the addition of the almond salt.

ETA: I forgot the pork.

Edited by BryanZ (log)
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Wow, white food! Was it co-incidental or did you plan it?

I think an entire meal of white food is excellently seasonal for 12/1, fwiw.

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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Brian.

Would you please explain your constant inclusion of a cheese course?  Do you like nice cheese with your nice meal?  Why a cheese course?

Since it came across my mind...

How do you write your menu?  Do you have a "guideline"? Rules? 

Cheers.

Trev.

I love cheese and find that it's severely under-utilized in dining in this country. I like being able to feature cheeses that are actually relatively easy to find but perhaps less known. At your typical Whole Foods or Wegmans you can find 90% of the cheeses offered at the best restaurants in New York; I can't say the same about produce, fish, meat, etc.

I also don't like too much sweet. If I use a sweet component, there's usually not a lot of it. A brush of chocolate across the plate, a spoonful of peanut butter powder, a lightly sweetened sorbet, or some fruit.

My menu language speaks to the relative simplicity of the food I'm creating. From the technical standpoint, nothing I'm doing is truly groundbreaking. Rather I take ingredients that most people can relate to and put them together in interesting and hopefully well-executed ways using modern techniques. There's a lot of theory behind my dishes which I hope is at once accessible on the page but thought provoking on the plate.

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I had the pleasure of meeting eG member umbabaru this evening along with his wife and other friends.  I think a good time was had by all.

Here's what I cooked.

gallery_28496_3717_38972.jpg

I was finally able to take some pictures, too.  Some dishes are similar to those I have made before, and this again speaks to the conflict between my desire to constantly innovate and the reality of having to recreate successful dishes.

...

I only now have a chance to comment on the wonderful dining experience we had at Z Kitchen. The food was delicious, the menu was extremely well conceived, and the individual dishes and ordering were very well balanced.

The artichoke soup was about as close to perfect as you can get. I hadn't realized how important a role the acidity of the artichoke can play; it is like a sherry-infused vegetable. The mushrooms and the chestnuts mellowed the soup and gave the dish its perfect balance.

I suppose soft-boiled eggs are something not everyone loves (but I certainly do), and I think you have to appreciate a soft boiled egg, or at least appreciate what happens to the proteins in the yolk, to enjoy a slow-cooked egg. But to have this hollandaise like consistency in a soft-boiled egg provided a beautiful interlude between the scallops and the pork.

The cheek was a perfect braise. Bryan clearly understands what a braise is. I was surprised he didn't do it sous vide, given that he has such a fancy water bath, but thank goodness he did it however he did (in fact, I think he had to cook the pork in his neighbors oven, since his broke before the meal).

The cheese course was well chosen.

In terms of wine -- on Bryan's suggestion, we opened with a Spanish sparkling wine, cava avinyo, which could not have paired better with the soup. I brought a white Burgundy (A Blaune), which got killed by the pork course, but luckily we had a spare Grenache that fit quite well. We also brought along a Sauternes to finish off with, and it paired as well as it could, out of its environment, with the cheeses.

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Well I just got off the phone with my brother who experienced Zkitchen a couple of weeks ago(a group of 5 I believe). He had a great time, enjoyed the food, and the whole experience of the underground thing.

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Wow, how did I miss this thread till now? I was a huge fan of the Zkitchen idea when it was first annouced and I'm thrilled it's taken off like it has. It's clear from the menus and comments that BryanZ really just understands food and everything is centered around that. Reading the menus and seeing the dishes, it's very easy to see why this was paired with that, why a decision was made to cook something this way. The mechanics of the cooking become revealed by their execution and you're left thinking "of course, this is the obvious way to make this dish". This is something I see rarely enough, even with top flight restaurant chefs that it's clear Bryan has some major talent.

I would love to make it up there some day. Durham is pretty far away from Seattle (although not as far away as Sydney is to Durham I guess) so we'll see if that's practical anytime soon. I have to admit, I'm vaguely jealous at what Bryan's managed to do. I had wanted to do something similar for a long time but was never crazy enough to make the leap. I'm glad he had the initiative and dedication to go for something like this.

I wouldn't worry too much about whether NC is ready for this. I think, once you get over an initial level of apprehension and puritanism about food, then it becomes just about the flavour and execution and theres very little differentiating traditional from hypermodern food except that both can taste really good when made by a skilled chef. You're not running a 50 seat restaurant that depends on customers to keep the lights on. I'm sure there are enough people in the area willing to sit down and put anything in their mouths as long as they know it will be good.

Promotion is going to be difficult but there are some really innovative ways you could go about it. The art museum suggestion mentioned above is great. What are the decent wine stores in the area? Make friends with the owner there and tell him about the concept. I'm sure he has lots of regular customers who would die to try something like this.

Have you thought about doing a couple of luxe menus? I would love to see what you could do with foie and truffles.

PS: What is Soy Sauce powder?

PS: I am a guy.

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Promotion is going to be difficult but there are some really innovative ways you could go about it. The art museum suggestion mentioned above is great. What are the decent wine stores in the area? Make friends with the owner there and tell him about the concept. I'm sure he has lots of regular customers who would die to try something like this.

Have you thought about doing a couple of luxe menus? I would love to see what you could do with foie and truffles.

PS: What is Soy Sauce powder?

I only cook for friends now. So making "friends" with the owner of a wine store (though my age makes this difficult) and similar people seems to be a good idea. Mainly I just talk to people who are interested about food and see if they're interested in me cooking for them. Needless to say, I've already learned A LOT.

I might be doing some luxe meals next semester. The only problem is that since I can't source any foie or truffles or uni or top-notch duck or my other favorite foods locally that means I have it mailed in. This costs a lot.

Soy sauce powder is product distributed by Ajinomoto. It's effectively soy sauce that's been dehydrated with a type of maltodextrin. I don't have the container here, so I can't tell you exactly which maltodextrin, but I'm quite sure it's not tapioca maltodextrin because of the mouth feel. I love tapmalto for dessert applications and in small quantities on the savory side, but the gumminess isn't applicable to everything. Whatever Aji uses reconstitutes "cleaner."

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See, that's where I'm not sure. As I said I don't have the jar in front of me so I can't say for sure. I do recall reading only a couple ingredients on the back, soy sauce, maltodextrin of some kind, and no oil or fat or anything. Again, the texture is very different that powders made from tapmalto.

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So I open this month's issue of Duke Magazine, and there he is -- Z Kitchen.  Nice piece, and nice photos!  And Bryan, some of what was written sounded familiar and not from eG.  Was it published elsewhere?

Yeah, that piece just came out this week. I think it's really well-written, and Bridget, the author, was so nice.

I'm not sure what you're referring to. There was Z Kitchen stuff in the SF Chronicle and Independent Weekly (a local magazine), so maybe you read those links I posted here or something. Or maybe you're referring to the fact that my culinary philosophy pretty much mimics that of the chefs I've talked to and grilled with questions. In that regard, everything I say has been published elsewhere. You can't win 'em all.

I like the look of the slow-cooked egg. Do you need to trim the whites after you cook them to get such a clean look? Or do you poach them in saran wrap?

Thank you. They're cooked in-shell 62C for about an hour. I like the look, too. Some people are kind of indifferent to this dish because it is just an egg. But then again I think it embodies everything that is cool about an egg. The way the proteins behave under heat, the way the flavor is subtly intensified. Good times.

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I'm not sure what you're referring to.  There was Z Kitchen stuff in the SF Chronicle and Independent Weekly (a local magazine), so maybe you read those links I posted here or something.  Or maybe you're referring to the fact that my culinary philosophy pretty much mimics that of the chefs I've talked to and grilled with questions.  In that regard, everything I say has been published elsewhere.  You can't win 'em all.

I was wondering if it came off a wire in whole or part, is all. Nice job!

I'd think that if you have someone into your home for a meal, they are friends. Shoot, home-based caterers have been wiggling past the health department forever.

Anyway, we all enjoyed the piece, here at the FB's. My sons had a belief about Duke that it was Party Central when their Dad was there, and now it's just, well, not. So there really are people there who do more than just study in K'ville during the season? :laugh: Hey, they needed to see it for themselves. And now they want to go to WD50.

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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