A buddy and I ran over to a friends and family preview night at Alma – Tristan Simon’s new spot located in his previous Cuba Libre space on Henderson. Here’s a quick post to give you a look:
^ Tristan and his chef, Michael Brown (previously of Red O in L.A.)
^ The Alma & Omega: Espolon Blanco Tequila, hand pressed Serrano Peppers, Cilantro, Creme of Coconut, freshly squeezed Lime Juice.
^ Anejo Bravo: Pueble Viejo Tequila, Agave Nectar, Angostura Bitters, Grapefruit Zest: ^ Brandied Horchata: Gran Duque D’Alba Spanish Brandy, Dry Sack Sherry, house made Horchata, freshly grated Canela Bark.
The menu isn’t quite set – but we sampled a number of dishes. Not a bunch of description – just take a gander:
^ Chef’s Salad; ^ Ceviche.
^ Shrimp and Rice.
^ Duck and frijoles refritos.
^ A real standout was the Cochinita Pibil – a Mayan-style slow-cooked achiote-marinated pit pork dish. Nice.
^ Of course, the bar scene upstairs was already rockin.
^ The fireplace upstairs.
^ The delicious Tres Leches.
This place will be a big hit – and the food is very promising – bonus!
Here we are, back again for more goodness! We had, like, four or five people – so we pretty much ordered the menu:
^ Salumi misti – a tasting of house-made cured meats.
^ Baccala fritters with olive salad and aïoli.
^^ Baby artichoke salad with faro, arugula and Parmigiano Reggiano.
^ Seared beef tongue with roasted onions in salsa verde.
^^ Sea urchin risotto with chives. (Chef David Ugyur knows how to push my buttons.)
^ Raviolone with egg yoke, escarole and brodo Parmigiano.
^^ Potato gnocchi with caramelized cabbage, Gorgonzola and Speck.
^ Orecchiette with spicy lamb sausage, broccoli raab and ricotta salata.
^^ Veal chop with fingerlings, cippolini, guanciale and brown butter.
^ Braised rabbit leg with polenta taragna, root vegetables and Brussels sprouts.
^^ Duck breast with a porcini and foie gras peverada.
^ Hake with celery root purée, capers and celery salad. Jennifer Ugyur delighted our party with her repartee and interesting wine list.
There was Dolci, but it went so fast no pics were possible.
So how was the meal? … let's look at it through the raw lens of the iPhone:
Teiichi Sakurai has been taking my five senses on an educational journey for the last 16 years. Last night at Tei-An I graduated to the next level. This is Shirako 3 Ways:
So what is shirako, you ask? The most pleasant description is to say Cod Milt. If you don't know what milt is – don't ask. Suffice to say that it is sublime. Shirako has now surpassed Uni and Ankimo as the most amazing and unique pleasure I've yet experienced in my study of Japanese cuisine. Teiichi is pleased at my response – because now he says I have a good 4 or 5 more levels to go – so I've got that going for me!
^ Shirako Agedashi (kind of tempura style); ^ Shirako Ponzu.
^ Shirako Sauté; ^ and, meanwhile, Maria's dinner awaits her arrival.
^ Ama ebi – this is the actual traditional "Sweet Shrimp." Much smaller and more delicate than the more common, larger variety often seen in sushi bars. These literally melt on your tongue. Stunning; ^ And we also had some fun with some nice pork dropped off by new One Arts Plaza neighbor Chef John Tesar. Here, Teiichi obliged with a favorite of mine: Uni under Lardo (Pata Negra).
^ Tesar's Salt & Herb Cured, Air Dried, Texas Hog Jowl. Teiichi cut is at 90 degrees and served it ishiyaki style. Awesome.
Tei-An was recently designated one of only two restaurants in Dallas awarded 5 Stars by the Dallas Morning News (along with Chef Bruno Davaillon at Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek). DMN critic Leslie Brenner has also written about her experience with shirako at Tei-Tei Robata Bar, which along with Teppo was previously owned by Sakurai-San and continues to be closely connected in passion, philosophy – and often, produce.