Spago

The one and only Spago in Beverly Hills by Wolfgang Puck, his flagship restaurant that put him on the map. It’s still standing strong after all these years.  It had been at least 5 years since the last time that I ate there, but it was still as crowded as ever and as delicious as ever. Spago is 1 of only 3 restaurants in Los Angeles to win a 2 Michelin star rating in 2008.  I had a wonderful meal in their outdoor terrace by the water fountain on a sunny Los Angeles day.

Beautiful dainty canapés with a glass of bubblies for starters:

Tuna tartare with bubblies

Tuna tartare with bubblies

The first canapé we had was spicy tuna tartare in a sweet sesame tuille with daikon radish sprouts and bonito flakes.  The tuille was a little too sweet for my liking, but it was nice to experience the different textures of crunchy, moist, flaky and crisp in one bite.

Hamachi and smoked sturgeon

Hamachi and smoked sturgeon

Next we had Japanese hamachi (yellow tail) marinated in a soy-yuzu dressing with pumpkin seed oil, with shiso leaf and marinated mountain burdock root garnish.  A very tangy spoonful with a strong citrus kick.  Personally, I wasn’t too crazy about this.  The soy yuzu dressing overpowered the hamachi, and I couldn’t taste that wonderful fattiness that I love about hamachi.  I think the dish would have gone better with a less fatty white fish like halibut.

My favorite canapé was the house smoked sturgeon on lemon herb blini with sweet onions, chives, dill crème fraiche and salmon caviar.  I love anything that is smoked, but this sturgeon was absolutely delicious.  A perfect smokiness that was subtle enough to still allow the sturgeon flavors to shine through.  The lemon herb blini added the perfect amount of citrus acidity paired with the rich crème fraiche to bring everything together.  I would go back to Spago just to have another bite of that.

Anchovy and quail canapé

Anchovy and quail canapé

Our last canapé was a dried baby anchovy ring with soft boiled quail egg, microgreens, dill, anchovies and olives.  A wonderful fusion of different textures, saltiness and flavors in one bite.  Canapés are such a delight, aren’t they?

I had to order the oysters, since they are one of my favorite foods.  We had Fanny Bay and Kumamoto oysters on a beautifully decorated and garnished cold plate.  I loved the vibrant colors on this dish- a feast for the eyes.  Spring is here!

Oysters, oysters, oysters!

Oysters, oysters, oysters!

One of Wolfgang Puck’s favorite childhood recipes, the Austrian chicken bouillon with julienned vegetables.  Chicken buillon seems like a boring dish, but it’s one of the most difficult to execute well.  Because of its simplicity, it’s very easy to tell how good or bad the chef’s techniques are.   This one was comforting, the kind that makes you sigh with relief.

Chicken bouillon

Chicken bouillon

Bouillon

Bouillon

Next was a small tasting of a seasonal pasta dish.  Fresh spring green pea ravioli with parmesan cheese. I love seasonal dishes where you can taste the full potential of the ingredient.  I loved the combination of the sweet pea purée inside the raviolis and the fresh firm peas that burst inside my mouth.

Pea ravioli

Pea ravioli

Finally for the main courses.

Flounder

Flounder

Steamed ‘Hong Kong style’ flounder with baby bok choy, shiitake mushrooms, snap peas and green onions in a Hoisin sauce.  The flounder was perfectly moist and sweet, and the dish was as good as anything you could get in a top rated Hong Kong restaurant.

I had the Snake River Farm’s Kobe ‘Szechuan’ Steak with stir fried bok choy, choy sum and shiitake mushrooms.

Snake River Farm's steak

Snake River Farm's steak

The wagyu beef from Snake River Farm is one of the best that you can get domestically, and is very close to the Japanese wagyu beef.  The steak that I had was wonderfully marbled and dripping with flavor.  I could have easily mistaked it for Japanese beef in a blind taste test.  Absolutely tender, perfectly smokey, and marvelously fatty.  Every bite of meat melted in my mouth with ease.  Delicious!

http://www.snakeriverfarms.com/

Finally, for dessert, we had blackberry granita with lemon cake.

blackberry granita with lemon cake

blackberry granita with lemon cake

and 12 layer chocolate cake with Tahitian vanilla gelato….

chocolate cake

chocolate cake

We were way too full to finish either dessert.  The blackberry granita with lemon cake was too sweet for me, as well as the chocolate cake, but the Tahitian vanilla gelato was wonderful.

After all these years, I can see why Spago is still immensely popular and manages to fill their tables.  The ambience and service are top notch, and the food really pleases all 5 senses.  Spago is a classic establishment that can always be counted on for fine dining and an excellent experience.

http://www.wolfgangpuck.com/

Random trivia: Did you know that the swimbladder of Beluga sturgeon is used to clarify certain wines and beers?  Therefore, many vegetarians don’t consider these particular brands of alcoholic beverages to be truly vegetarian.