Archive for October, 2010

Michelin Guide Director Jean-Luc Naret Resigns, Five New 3-Star Michelin Restaurants Added in Japan

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe (Image Credit: ©Michelin Guide 2011)

Two important announcements have been made recently from the Michelin Guide:

(1) Jean-Luc Naret will step down from his official post as director of Michelin Guides at the end of the year, he will remain as a consultant for some time afterward.

(2) Five more restaurants have been added to the Japan Michelin 3-star roster recently as the French guide gives top billing to two establishments in Kobe, one in Kyoto and two in Osaka.
The winners are Ca Sento and Komago in Kobe, Nakamura in Kyoto, and Kashiwaya and Taian in Osaka. That brings the total for the cities to 12. Another 44 restaurants and two ryokans (or Japanese-style inns) win two stars as Michelin adds Kobe to the guide for the first time.

Japan is challenging France in terms of three-star restaurants. Factor in the 11 such awards in Tokyo last year and the current total for Japan is 23, compared with 26 in France. The next Tokyo guide is scheduled for Nov. 24, and the addition of the cities of Yokohama and Kamakura suggests further gains.
“It’s always difficult to compare countries in terms of gastronomy and I’m not even going to go there,” Jean-Luc Naret, director of the Michelin guides, said last night, “But in Japan, the quality and consistency of the produce is absolutely incredible. And the chefs transmit their skills from one generation to the next.
“Some of the restaurants are centuries old and in others there are younger chefs who are using the skills they have inherited to try something new,” he said. “To anyone who questioned that Japan could be that good, I’d say just take a plane and come experience these restaurants. They deserve to be recognized.”

The usual Michelin criteria is used for awarding stars no matter what country or city: product quality, preparation and flavors, the chef’s personality as revealed through his cuisine, value for money and consistency over time and across the entire menu, Michelin said. The criteria are adapted to each type of cuisine, notably Japanese cooking styles.

Taste, Restaurants: Melrose Ave. & Pacific Palisades – Los Angeles

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

By Sandy Driscoll

Exterior of Taste Restaurant MelroseExterior of Taste’s Melrose location, with a pleasant breezy outdoor patio, all images ©2010-2011 and Sandy Driscoll

Taste Restaurant

8454 Melrose Avenue
West Hollywood, CA  90069
Tel:  323-852-6888
Hours:  Daily for lunch & dinner (see website for specific hours)

538 Palisades Drive
Pacific Palisades, CA  90272
Tel:  310-459-9808
Hours:  Tuesday-Sunday for lunch & dinner (see website for specific hours)

Credit Cards: Yes
Valet Parking:  Available evenings at Melrose location
Prices:  Moderate

Having dined at Taste twice in recent days, the first thing that struck me was that everything on their menu looked good to me!   I could have closed my eyes, pointed, and had something that was delicious and attractively served.  The second thing was that Taste Restaurant is obsessed with excellent customer service which provides many reasons for a return visit.   There is literally something for everyone……brunches, a la carte items, prix fixe menus, wine and dining specials, and just generally fun and interesting dining.

My two lunches (one at the Melrose location, the other in Pacific Palisades) were exceptionally good and attractively presented.  I found myself checking out the plates of adjacent diners, which also looked terrific, and more than once I overheard patrons mentioning how they were tempted to order everything on the menu……….my sentiments exactly!  A good friend who is a business owner in West Hollywood tells me that he and his employees eat at Taste often, and have enjoyed practically everything on the menu.

My lunch at Taste in Pacific Palisades coincided with ‘Dine LA’ week, 10 days during a 2 week period in which many LA restaurants offer bargain priced prix-fixe menus for lunch and dinner.   My lunch (see photos below) consisted of 3 generous courses for only $16.   Both locations share the same menu and also have a special ‘Build Your Own Grilled Cheese’ menu.  I can’t wait to go back and try that!

As always, I think a photo is worth a thousand words, so take a look below!

Additional details/specifics
• Facebook:
• Twitter:
• Happy Hour happens Tuesday-Sunday 4pm-6pm Well drinks $4 and Specialty Cocktails $6 – Small plates are $3.50-5.
• Every Monday is Wine Discovery Monday’s when Bottles of Wine are 1/2 off at the Melrose Location
• Every Tuesday is Wine Discovery Tuesday’s when Bottles of Wine are 1/2 off at the Palisades Location
• Every Thursday is Farmers’ Market Dinner: Sustainable “Slow Cooking” at Taste. Come in for food of Organic Produce, All Natural Meats & Free Range Chicken and Eggs. Every Thursday night at Taste.
• Brunch every Saturday and Sunday – and with the purchase of a $13 Entree they offer bottomless Mimosa’s or Bubbly
• Every month they have a “featured cocktail” – this month it is a “Pomegranate Basil Sangria” served with raspberries and blueberries.
• Taste Caters!
• Full Moon Aphrodisiac Nights: Every Full moon – the day before and the day after – Taste creates a special menu that will stimulate your senses – prefixed menu of aphrodisiacs.

Ahi TunaAhi Tuna Tartare – Ahi Tuna, Avocado, Jicama, Mint, Dill, Spicy Aioli, CrostiniThai Chicken CupThai Chicken Cups – Minced Chicken, Shallots, Crispy Rice, Peanuts, Lemongrass Vinaigrette, Romaine Lettuce, Cilantro

SangriaCocktail of the Month – Pomegranate Basil Sangria – Veev Acai Spirit, St. Germain Liqueur, Pomegranate Puree,
Fresh Raspberries & Blueberries, Fresh Basil, Sparkling Wine
Hanger SteakGrilled Hangar Steak Salad – All Natural Steak, Organic Mixed Greens, Grilled Onions, Roasted Tomatoes,
Gorgonzola Cheese, Honey Mustard DressingKobe HamburgerKobe Beef Burger (cooked to a perfect medium rare, as requested)  with Onion Jam, Organic Arugula, Tomato, Gorgonzola, Sesame Bun and Pommes Frites

Short Rib TacoShort Rib Tacos – Braised Short Rib, Mexican Cole Slaw, Salsa Verde, Roasted Corn Salsa, Refried Black Beans, Creme FraicheArugula saladArugula Shaved Fennel Salad with Pomegranate Seeds, Caramelized Hazelnuts, Gorgonzola Cheese, Honey
Jalapeno VinaigretteBrioche Chocolate PuddingChocolate Brioche Bread Pudding with Creme Anglaise,Vanilla Bean Gelato

Blackberry Cabernet SorbetBlackberry Cabernet Sorbet with Fresh Raspberries and BlueberriesCappuccinoCappuccino LavazzaTaste Pac PalisadesDining Room at Taste in Pacific Palisades

Les Quatres Garçons (4 Garçons) Restaurant – Bangkok

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010


Les Quatres Garçons (4 Garçons)
1/F, Oakwood Residence, 113 Thong Lor Soi 13,
Sulhumvit 55, Wattana 10110 Bangkok Thailand‬
Tel. 66 (0) 2 713 9547
Opening Hours: Lunch 11:30am – 2:30pm; Dinner  6 – 11:30pm; Open Daily Website:
Prices: Moderate-Expensive

Les Quatres Garçons (4 Garçons)
1/F, Oakwood Residence, 113 Thong Lor 13,
Sukhumvit 55, Wattana 10110 Bangkok, Thailand
Tel 66 (0)2 713 9547
Opening Hours: Lunch 11:30am – 2:30pm; Dinner 6 – 11pm; Open Daily
Prices: Moderate-Expensive

It comes as a pleasant surprise that the cooking at 4 Garçons is unexpectedly good, with only a few grumbles, especially as it is operated by four Thai business professionals, with no specific training in the restaurant trade, and a medical doctor behind the stoves to boot. Meanwhile, down the road at a French bistro with a professional French chef at the helm, I tried to have a meal that I could write about in a favorable light, and after several attempts it became apparent it was not to be, and for the present I have abandoned it.

Now back to the main subject of this post, 4 Garçons. It is quite normal in Thailand to find a restaurant bar with no bar stools and a bar top, so cluttered with non-essentials that it is difficult to find space enough to set a glass down, and the large bar at 4 Garçons is no exception. Why not put these service bars in the kitchen, or somewhere else outside the perimeters of the dining room, if customers are excluded from using them anyway? If a diner simply wants to have a casual drink before lunch or dinner while waiting for other guests, or for any reason at any time, they have no alternative choice but to sit at one of the large tables or on a banquette with a neatly arranged profusion of pillows which, quite frankly is a pain to get in an out of; while alighting from a bar stool is almost instantaneous. Bar at Les Quatres Garçons

I have almost forgotten to mention a colorful character called Khun Pop, who you might spot walking around the dining room floor wearing anything from unconventional costumes to sometimes what can really be an outlandish getup, depending on the day, and mind you these are of his own choosing.

As for the decor, I enjoyed the clean open spaces and airy architectural lines of the dining room, in spite of comments from the odd diner who hinted to it being “too cold” or “impersonal”.

Bread was served very nicely on a small plate with a square of molded butter, however when broken apart the bread was so dried-out it shattered over the table. Frog legs were excellent, with the exception of crystals of rock salt sprinkled into the dish, they reacted similarly to a mine field, making for very salty explosions or large areas without any salt at all. The Navarin (lamb stew with vegetables) suffered from the same symptoms (overly salty) due to too many lardons that outnumbered the vegetables in this dish. Granted, I realize that most Asians probably would not find the amount of salt disagreeable, and I am most likely in the abject minority. However, every dish that I sampled from the à la carte menu: savory dishes were too salty and sweets were too sweet to my taste although, there again I am swimming against the tide as Thais love salt & sweet!

At 4 Garçons they offer a three-course lunch at THB 580:

A Choice of Appetizers: Pate de Campagne, Soup de moule au curry, Salade de Foies de Volaille, Roquette au Confit de Canard Rapé

A Choice of Mains: Beef Ragu or Lamb Ragu Fettuccini, Croque Monsieur/Madam, Tripes a la Mode Lyonnaise, Coq au Vin, Épaule d’agneau à la bière.

Summary: Overall, I liked this restaurant and anticipate returning. I can always ask for the rock salt to be omitted from the dishes that are made à la minute; for the many pre-prepared dishes I am out of luck.

Exterior 2

Dining Room

Cuisse de Grenouille 4


Tarte Tatin

Ciao Re-Opens at the Mandarin Oriental for the 2011 Season – Bangkok

Saturday, October 16th, 2010


Michelin Guide Drops LA & Las Vegas

Friday, October 15th, 2010

Jean-Luc Naret, director of Michelin Guides (image credit: has ceased publishing guides for Los Angeles and Las Vegas because sales were poor, and according to Jean-Luc Naret, director of Michelin Guides, “the people in Los Angeles are not real foodies. They are not too interested in eating well but just in who goes to which restaurant and where they sit”.

I would say, specifically speaking, this is a fair assumption amongst a certain group in LA, and especially when compared to other cities. Of course, this is certainly not true across the board and I know many people that would take offense to this remark, and probably already have!

As far as Las Vegas is concerned this was to be expected; just look at these people and conventioneers.

A Great Breakthrough in Aquaculture, Eat Barramundi not Salmon

Thursday, October 14th, 2010



A few decades ago when aqua-culturists began sifting through fish to raise, species were chosen on the basis of their value in the marketplace and not on the amount of fish or fish meal they would have to be fed before they reached maturity, or the mess and pollution the process would cause to the surrounding waters,  or their general environmental unfriendliness.

Enter the Barramundi, from Southeast Asia and Northern Australia, a delicious, firm white-fleshed fish similar to grouper, snapper, or striped bass. Barramundi are born in the sea and migrate to fresh waters as adults, the absolute reverse of a salmon’s life cycle, and they have the rare ability to transform vegetarian feed into healthy omega-3 at about the same rate as a coho salmon. In terms of pure common sense, why would anyone choose to farm Atlantic salmon, a carnivorous predator that needs to eat many times its own weight in smaller fish? Barramundi are found ideal for farming because of their fast-growing and hardy nature. They spawn in saltwater, but they can be grown in varied environments including fresh, salt or brackish water. Because they can be farmed in closed, land-locked systems and due of their low dependence on fish-based diet, they are considered a more environmentally friendly fish to grow, particularly in comparison with salmon, which depend largely on fish meal for their diet. In addition, at least in the U.S., they are raised naturally. That is, without the aid of hormones or antibiotics.

Joshua Goldman, the CEO of Australis Aquaculture is attempting to undo sustainable fish farming gone wrong. After raising tilapia and striped bass in the 1990s, he searched for the optimum fish to farm and with Australian entrepreneur Stewart Graham they chose the barramundi. Australis operates the largest recirculating aquaculture operation in the world near an airport in Turners Falls, a village in western Massachusetts’s Pioneer Valley. They clean the water in a treatment plant and send it back to the fish and every gallon used is recycled 300 times. Solid waste is separated out and goes to local farms as fertilizer. This is a far better solution than the “net pens” used today that not only pollute the sea, but spread diseases and parasites to passing wild fish.

The bottom-line message: Eat barramundi NOT salmon and help save the seas!

Rachael Ray: Burger Joint Planned in New York – NYC

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Rachael Ray

Rachael Ray is a popular American TV food show personality with her own distinctive style. It is acknowledged, by both her friends and foes, that she presently holds the position of one of the most popular female cooking-show celebrities on U.S. television.
As a self-proclaimed burger lover, it came as no surprise when she announced that her next venture will be a hamburger joint in New York City. It should also be expected, that her huge TV fan-base from all over the country, will form long queues stretching around the block waiting to taste her burgers.

Tedeschi Wine Dinner, Biscotti, Four Seasons Hotel – Bangkok

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

Tedeschi Wine Dinner, Biscotti RestaurantFor one night only, Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok and the Tedeschi Winery of Italy present a matching of superb Verona wines and Northeast Italian cuisine.

Tedeschi is one of the names rooted in the wine history of the Veneto region, with archive documents dating the first vineyards back to 1630.

Today, the winery is run by Renzo Tedeschi together with his children Antonietta, Sabrina and Riccardo. Sabrina herself will host the evening at Biscotti, with a five-course dinner created by Biscotti chef Danilo Aiassa.

The evening begins with a Soave Classico DOC 2009 served with canapés, followed by a Soave Capitel Tenda 2009 to accompany pan-fried Hokkaido scallops and celery root soup.

Quail breast with black truffle and poached egg is accompanied by a Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso Capitel San Rocco 2008, and risotto with mashed pumpkin is served with a Valpolicella Classico Superiore La Fabriseria 2006.

The main course of braised short ribs with Jerusalem artichokes will be accompanied by an Amarone della Valpolicella DOC Classico 2006. The meal concludes with an assortment of cheeses accompanied by a vertical tasting of three vintage Amarone wines.

The price for the evening is THB 2,900 per person, subject to 7% VAT and 10% service charge.

For reservations, please call (0) 2126 8866

M Café, Macrobiotic Food by Chaya – Los Angeles

Saturday, October 9th, 2010

M Cafe (image credit M Cafe & Chaya Restaurants)

M Café, Chaya Restaurant’s entry into the niche macrobiotic food sector has been long in the planning and now has three locations to show for it, the first being the M Café Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood location that opened in 2005, following that the M Café in Culver City, and earlier this year (2010) M Café, Beverly Hills. There will be more to come.

Culver City
9343 Culver Boulevard
Culver City, CA. 90232
Tel. 310.838.4300
Fax. 310.838.4310

Melrose Avenue
7119 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA. 90046
Tel. 323.525.0588
Fax. 323.525.0310

Corporate Office
100 Corporate Pointe, Suite 265
Culver City, CA 90230
Tel. 310.338.1122
Fax. 310.338.1457

Beverly Hills (recently opened)
9433 Brighton Way
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Tel. 310.858.8459
Fax. 310.858.8942

M Café introduces au courant Macrobiotic Cuisine to the West side of Los Angeles. They feature balanced, nutritious, creative cooking, which can be enjoyed at any time by everyone, not just vegetarians or people with dietary restrictions. M Café brings this newly updated cuisine with an inviting European café-style setting, offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Under the direction of Chaya’s Corporate Executive Chef, Shigefumi Tachibe along with consulting macrobiotic chef, Lee Gross.

Chaya Brasserie
Chaya Venice
Chaya Brasserie San Francisco
Chaya Downtown
M Café – Melrose Ave, Culver City & Beverly Hills

Chef Shigefumi Tachibe began training in formal French technique at the age of fifteen at the Hotel Ban Show Row in Nagasaki, Japan. He then served as an exchange chef at the restaurant Gannino in Milan, Italy, at the age of 21. Upon returning to Japan, he was named Executive Chef at La Marée de Chaya in Hayama, Japan. His experience with French and Italian cooking coupled with Japanese cuisine became the fusion that is now synonymous with Chaya Restaurants. He first came to Los Angeles in 1981 with Yuta Tsunoda, the founder of Chaya Restaurants, to open La Petite Chaya.

M Cafe (image credit M Cafe & Chaya Restaurants)

2011 Michelin Starred Restaurants NYC – New York

Friday, October 8th, 2010

Red Guide On Sale Now (image copyright Michelin Guide)

Michelin Starred Restaurants NYC

For more information on listed restaurants the Michelin guide is on sale now at most book stores.

(Bold type denotes a new addition)

Jean Georges
Le Bernardin
Per Se

Chef Table at Brooklyn Fare
Gordon Ramsay at the London
Momofuku Ko

Anthos (closed)
A Voce Columbus
A Voce Madison
Blue Hill
The Breslin
Café Boulud
Casa Mono
Danny Brown Wine Bar & Kitchen
Del Posto
Eleven Madison Park
Gotham Bar and Grill
Gramercy Tavern
Jewel Bako
Kyo Ya
L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon
Marc Forgione
Minetta Tavern
The Modern
Peter Luger
River Café
Rouge Tomate
SHO Shaun Hergatt
Spotted Pig
Sushi Azabu
Sushi of Gari
Veritas (currently closed)

Bib Gourmand Restaurants

These restaurants are declared “best value for money” by the Michelin inspectors.

Al Bustan
Andy’s Seafood & Grill
Aroma Kitchen & Wine Bar
Asia de Cuba
Baci & Abbracci
Bahari estiatorio
Bistro 33
Blue Ribbon Bakery
Blue Smoke
Buttermilk Channel
Char No. 4
Cho Dang Gol
Congee Village
Daisy May’s BBQ
DBGB Kitchen & Bar
Dim Sum Go Go
Dinosaur Bar-B-Que
Dirt Candy
Ed’s Lobster Bar
El Parador
El Paso Taqueria
Fatty Crab
Fatty ‘Cue
Frankies 457 Spuntino
Garden Court Café
Golden Unicorn
The Good Fork
Hecho en Dumbo
Hunan House
‘inoteca e Liquori Bar
Jack the Horse
Jean Claude
J.G. Melon
Les Halles
Lil’ Frankie’s
Little Pepper
Mapo Tofu
Marlow & Sons
Mesa Coyoacan
Momofuku Noodle Bar
Momofuku Ssäm Bar
M & T Restaurant
Northern Spy Food Co.
Park Avenue Bistro
Paulie Gee’s
Phoenix Garden
Prime Meats
Quinto Quarto
Red Egg
Sette Enoteca & Cucina
Sip Sak
Szechuan Gourmet
Taco Taco
Tori Shin
Turkish Kitchen
World Tong
Zabb Queens