It's hard to quantify this type of dining experience since it's so "out of the box" different than any other restaurant I've been to. Since it's a very small, intimate space, most of the seating is at a counter that snakes around a central kitchen area. Part of the fun and excitement is watching all the chefs preparing a host of dishes that you know may soon be yours to enjoy. But the mystery of it all is also one of the things that adds to the excitement. Every day the menu changes and going in you have no idea what you'll be treated to!
There is no printed menu and when you first sit down, they kindly inquire if you have any food allergies. Among the three of us, absolutely not - we are proud omnivores! After we chose one of the hand-crafted cocktails off the menu, they got right down to business with us. No waiters here, the chef who is making each dish comes to your place setting and hand-delivers each course.
Where to start with this amazing menu? Perhaps I'll list as best I can the joys of each one starting with an Amuse: Pomme Souflee (reminded us of an encapsulated potato chip with French onion dip inside)! a one bite warm morsel. Next "Lobster Poloise", an upscale lobster roll in a thin crusted tart shell. On to the "Chicken Oyster with white kimchi" - my husband, the chef smiled as he knew right away and explained to us that "chicken oysters" are the two tender pieces of dark meat on either side of the backbone. They were panko-crusted and deep fried with a sip of kimchi as a kicker.
Moving right along, the next course was Long Island fluke sashimi with "barrel aged bonji" - pickled greens. Fresh and delicious. Next sea urchin with a "chickpea hozon" (had the texture of hummus, very creamy and a lovely counterpoint to the urchin bathed in olive oil.
The next course may have been my favorite: "Ko egg (poached) with caviar", served with tiny potato crisps. Food porn at its best! Sensual and a delight in each bite.
On to the serious main course items now with Beef Carpaccio au poivre - slightly seared and tender razor clams (sliced small and tender) floating in fresh pineapple juice with basil oil - chilled. Each bite here is a surprise and they often marry flavor profiles of salty, sweet and savory together. This "soup" was such a lovely intermezzo after the beef.
The next surprise that was brought to our table was a large crispy fried skate wing, which once presented was then withdrawn while our chef described the cooking process and removed the crispy skin to reveal the soft cooked flesh inside. She placed pieces of the skate wing in each of our bowls and then spooned a white frothy bouillabaisse sauce over each and served us. Ethereal magic!
We had seen the chefs grilling duck breast earlier and now it was our turn to dine on one! Darkly charred, it was presented whole and then sliced and served with broccoli rabe in a mustard sauce. Hard to believe this is the final course before dessert! Wow - tour de force for sure!
Now on to the desserts! The most surprising being a lychee pine nut concoction with a riesling jelly and (ready for this?) frozen fois gras. This was a fascinating use of fois gras I could have never imagined - dessert? A "wild rice kombu" - an edible kelp rice porridge served in a small bowl. Then the "piece de resistance" and truly elevated dish: Cherry Blossom Ice Cream with an amazake sauce. Our chef told us the cherry blossoms come from Japan!
The sommeliere was especially wonderful. We had visited the Cotes du Rhone last year and when we told him the region where we had stayed he recommended a wine from the region that was fantastic. Actually every single person we encountered at Ko from the moment we walked in the door were professional, polite, and knowledgeable. This was truly an experience of a lifetime. And of course one that will never be forgotten.
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