I posted the first part of my Bazaar review a while ago from my experiences on a visit back in November 2010. Holly of The Endless Supper and I celebrated our birthdays then with 9 of our friends. Our meal was less than stellar and after tweeting about it, Chef Jose Andres personally invited me back to a meal at the restaurant to make up for dismal birthday evening.
I had scheduled several times to go back to The Bazaar, each time having to re-schedule due to unforeseen circumstances. On the night we returned for dinner — a very last minute decision mind you — a prior appointment had fallen through and the restaurant was courteous enough to accommodate us at the eleventh hour despite it being a pretty busy evening.
We arrived right on time for our 8.45pm reservation and were immediately taken to the Rojo Room, where the scene of our first meal had taken place. Ironically, we were seated next to our former table which garnered a chuckle from us both but we were hopeful that tonight was the night that all of our prior adulation of Chef Andres would be reinstated.
Obviously, it makes a huge difference when everyone knows why you are here and therefore, the service we were lavished with was definitely out of this world. Between John Kolaski, the General Manager and Aaron Sherman the Wine Director, our evening couldn’t have started off on a higher note.
2007 Cava Reserva, Raventos i Blanc, Xarel-lo, Macabellu, Parallada (Penedes, Spain)
Our meal started off with a bag of Sweet Potato Chips and a Yogurt Tamarind Star Anise Dip ($10), something we tried on our first visit.
We were brought our first wine pairing of the night which we happily sipped as we munched on our first course.
Shortly after, Olives — modern and traditional ($10) arrived and I was immediately intrigued by the ‘modern’ interpretation, little wobbly jello-like ovals in an olive hue. I quickly popped a traditional olive into my mouth and enjoyed its lovely saltiness.
Then, I sucked the new-style olive from the spoon into my mouth and it literally popped.
The contrast is distinctive and wakes your palate up by testing its potential. This was indeed one of the winners of the night.
On our first visit, we had a caviar cone but this time, we were given the Salmon Egg Cone ($9/per person). I love this crunchy exterior and Japanese ikura on the inside.
American Caviar Steamed Buns ($10/per person) was a small steamed bun topped with caviar, creme fraiche, and lemon air. It was okay.
The texture of the bun didn’t excite me, nor was the lemon air (foam) really all that citrusy. Let’s just say this didn’t wow.
Japanese Eel Taco ($10) grilled eel, shiso, cucumber, wasabi and chicharron was simply amazing. I loved how the textures were so sublime yet complex and the combination of flavors were just genius.
I was absolutely floored by the innovative use of a thin cucumber slice as the “taco shell” to hold the grilled eel. The hint of wasabi was like a light kiss leaving a slight linger but finishing off with the fragrance of shiso. It was both an olfactory and oral orgasmic experience I will never forget.
2009 Jose Pariente, Dos Victorias, Verdejo, (Rueda, Spain)
The Last Word
We were brought our second wine pairing — pairings to be exact! I can’t tell you what The Last Word was exactly, but it was fabulously delicious. We were brought Not Your Everyday Caprese ($12), one of my favorites from our initial visit, however, this time around, the cherry tomatoes and liquid mozzarella didn’t give off as big a “popping” sensation as before. They were a little flat in consistency although flavor-wise, it still aimed to please.
Tuna Ceviche and Avocado Roll ($15) with jicama, micro cilantro and coconut dressing was another item we’ve had before and delighted us once again. I love the flavors and textures — creamy, crispy — and the coconut dressing did not overwhelm.
Green Asparagus ($9) was just okay. This is one of the items I would’ve gladly missed. It sure made a pretty picture though, but taste-wise it was nothing all that special.
2005 Arbois, Tissot, Savagnin, (Jura, France)
After they cleared our table of the previous courses, we were brought our fourth wine pairing ready for our next dish — one of my absolutely favorites!
It was a treat to have all three hams: Jamon Serrano Fermin, Iberico Fermin, Iberico de bellota Fermin on one platter ($34).
They even tell you in which order to start just so you get the full effects of how absolutely mesmerizing the experience can be. I think I was in heaven while eating this…….
….. that is, until I had a bite of the Persimmon and Seaweed Salad (seasonal item, price unavailable) which just brought me to my knees.
Such a simple dish, but somehow, paired together, turned out to be the perfect marriage between the two. The sweetness of the persimmon slices with the Japanese seaweed may seem like an odd combination, but was the most innovative concoction ever. In fact, once persimmons are back in season, I will try to make this at home.
After the persimmons, Ottoman Carrot Fritters ($7) with apricots and pistachio sauce just paled in comparison. I did not care for this at all and didn’t bother to finish it.
2003 Tokaji Red Label 5 Puttonyos, Royal Tokaji, Furmint, (Tokaj, Hungary)
And just when I thought things couldn’t get any better, we were served Foie Gras Floating Island Soup ($10), along with the next wine pairing. The soup was something so perfect I hardly have the words to describe it.
All I can say is it definitely is floating because it makes you float away to another dimension while sipping this. The creaminess, richness and sheer utter decadence is mind-blowing. You’ll have to try it to understand.
Cotton Candy Foie Gras ($5/per person), which we had on our previous, was highly welcomed again.
I really enjoy the playful way in which this is served, a wedge of foie gras on a stick with cotton candy spun around it, giving it the hint of sweetness needed to bring out the full potential of how foie gras can be.
2001 Reserva Especial, Hacienda Monasterio, Tempranillo, (Ribera del Duero, Spain)
Yet another wine pairing arrives along with “Philly Cheesesteak” ($8/per person). There are no words to describe the paper thin rare Wagyu beef slices served on an air bread filled with cheddar.
I think I enjoyed these even more this time around because I knew what I was in for and tilted the bread so that the cheese didn’t drip out. There is something to be said for experience!
Sauteed Cauliflower “Couscous” ($8) uses cauliflower puree, harissa, lemon and crispy quinoa, definitely an interesting dish to say the least.
Having absolutely no couscous whatsoever, the texture of couscous is re-created using cauliflower and quinoa. Pomegranate seeds added a textural component different to the “couscous” and while it didn’t blow me away, it was definitely an interesting way to serve this cruciferous vegetable.
Beef Hangar Steak ($12) was definitely several steps above the sous vide Wagyu we received on our first visit which had spent a little too much time in the tempered water bath, making it mushy.
The hangar steak had wonderful texture and was tender yet still retained a chewy factor I like in my meats. The natural jus enhanced its flavors and the accompanying piquillo pepper confit added a piquant touch.
I had wanted to try the Foie Gras Brioche Sandwiches (3 each/$10) with quince, but after the Floating Island, I guess any other foie gras seemed secondary.
I suggest if you are to try these, to have them BEFORE the Foie Gras Floating Island. Once you’ve sipped that incredible “soup”, there is nothing else that can top it.
Dulce, Bermejo, Malvasia (Lanzarote, Spain)
Our last wine pairing was a dessert wine and we were served dessert along with it, but I was too full to partake in any of it.
I’ll let Holly tell you about it as she, incredibly, had room to indulge further — she even managed to do a Floating Island reprise! I accepted defeat and had to drink some peppermint tea to help the gargantuan meal we feasted upon, settle in my stomach.
We were then taken for a quick tour of Ssam, the restaurant within the restaurant (within The Bazaar) with a 22-course tasting menu. Now that looks like a food adventure I would thoroughly enjoy!
Jose Andres is a master in his realm of molecular gastronomy and while some dishes are whimsical in their creativity, others manage to take your sense to a whole new dimension. Whether you’re a fan or not, all I can say is, The Bazaar is worth an experience, because that’s exactly what it is — an experience!
The Bazaar by Jose Andres
(at the SLS Hotel)
465 S La Cienega Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048