Saturday, June 20, 2009
Last night my wife and my mother decided it was time to celebrate. I asked what we were celebrating and they said, "life." I know, I know, this sounds like a Hallmark card. Ones where the cover says something like, Remember The Beatles? Remember Nixon? Remember Woodstock? Wow, you're old. But you've lived a fabulous life, congratulations. Yup, that's what we were celebrating... life. What better way to celebrate life than to go to a Japanese/Thai restaurant? After all, the Japanese men have an average life span of 78 years and the women, a very respectable 85 years. Compare that to the average life span of U.S. women which is 79 years and the average U.S. man at 74 years and you see my point. If we were celebrating life, this was a no-brainer.
It was up to me to pick the restaurant and almost without hesitation I said, Teikoku. The restaurant rests near the top of a small hill like a grand Japanese Pagoda. They really spared no expense on the exterior. The interior is also extremely upscale, complete with a rain wall that drips water from hanging copper pipes onto a stone garden.
We were seated under large canopies which kept the sun off our food and made for better photos. With a quick, perfunctory glance at the menu, we were ready to order. The service was fast and it seemed like only a few moments had passed and I was eating my starter. The California King Crab Roll was a little more reserved than I would have liked. Still good, it lacked the punch I was expecting from a $13 Sushi Roll. The Crab Meat was minimal and the Rice was slightly soggy. The other dishes looked much more appetizing to me, so I took the opportunity to covertly sneak forkfuls of both my wife's and my poor, hungry mother's dishes. And the winner, without question was my mom's Cold Duck Breast Salad. Normally cold Duck does not interest me at all and I would rather have Cup-O-Noddle, but on this occasion I was pleasantly surprised. The meat was not gamey, but instead had a very soft taste to it and the Yuzu Blueberry Dressing added to this graceful dish.
I heard a shockingly loud, "Hmmmmm... ohhhhhh..." coming from my wife's side of the table and I decided to investigate the situation with my fork. Her Crispy Calamari Salad was not Crispy in the slightest, but I liked it much more than those overdone, leathery pieces of Fried Calamari I have had at so many restaurants. It was Tempura battered, which I think gives it a much more dainty texture and finesse. The rest of her plate was filled with lurid reds, greens and yellows. A very nice salad indeed.
Like the starters, the main course was filled with enthusiastic cries of enjoyment, "Oh my God, this is incredible. You have to try this." I felt like I was at Disneyland, hopping from ride to ride, eating my way through three meals at once. My Green Curry arrived promptly after finishing my starter. A ginormous bowl of Rice, Chopped Vegetables, Slices of Cucumber and Pour-Your-Own Curry Sauce. It was spicy and delicious. The Coconut flavors in the sauce were profound. It was like they had someone in the kitchen pounding away at fresh Coconuts like Tom Hanks in Castaway, just for my benefit. It was a fantastic, flavorful dish, but not a dish for those who can't handle spices. My wife handed me her fork, which held a bounty of Rib Eye slices with a Red Panang Sauce draping around it like a gown. The first thing I noticed, was the incredible amount of juice that exploded into my mouth on my first bite. It tasted like a half stick of butter had been inserted into the meat, probably by the same guy bashing the Coconuts to death. It was, as my best friend Lou likes to say, "A flurry of Flavor." Next was the Grilled Hawaiian Butter Fish. I took a large forkful of Fish, Mushrooms and Spinach, along with a little bit of the odd, tangled, yellowish strips that sat atop the fish, which I later found out were Fried, Curly Ginger. The fruity, spicy complexity of the Ginger complimented the understated flavor of the Fish nicely. The Miso Honey Mustard Sauce gave the dish an overall piquancy that I don't think would have been possible with any other ingredients. It was a very well done sauce.
Teikoku was certainly an impressive restaurant. I don't know how they could have improved on anything. For $114, not including tip, which was 20% in this case, it's not a cheap restaurant. However, there are inexpensive options. My Vegetable Green Curry Fried Rice was only $13 and it's enough to fill any Foodie up and provide enough taste to feel completely satisfied.
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