30 August 2011


The pop-up restaurant LQ@SK epitomizes the trend toward an "omnivorous" taste for combinations of informal and formal style I discuss in my forthcoming book, Smart Casual. Starry Kitchen's mod chalkboard-menu digs set the relaxed stage for chef Laurent Quenioux's refined six-course menu. Knowledgeable and on-point servers wore t-shirts, cargo shorts, sneaks, and smiles. Starry Kitchen's Nguyen Tran made me feel so welcome with his disarming unpretentiousness! He offered his cell phone light for my photos of dishes. He could see that my too-weak Flashlight app in the corner table wasn't going to cut it. Here's a quick rundown of the place and the night's menu post Flashlight-app fiasco:

Hi, Nguyen! Thanks for your hospitality and that of your staff.

Not pictured:
Course #1: Amuse Bouche: Cocks Comb Tempura, Chipotle Lamb Kidney, Clementine, Vanilla.

Bold beginning. Concentrated, rich flavors, almost like mole or gumbo in intensity. Tender cocks comb. Delicious.

Not pictured:
Course #2: Hamachi, Black Sesame Panna Cotta, Soy Gel, Avocado Smear, Pickled Cucumbers, Black Sesame Powder.

Suprising that second course was so subtle in flavors. Unusual tactic, not proceeding from lighter to bolder. Black Sesame Panna Cotta was out of this world.

Course #3: Ham Hock Bouillon, Cabbage, Poached Smoked Salmon in Lard, Lentil Creme Fraiche.

I love chef Quenioux's decadent streak. More please!
Course #4: Declination of Peas: Pea Guacamole, Pea Gazpacho, Pea Bacon Ragu, Sauteed Foie Gras.

The declination, I believe, was in intensity of flavors, so goes counterclockwise. Every dish in this meal was a success. More declination, peas!
Course #5: Veal 2-Ways: Veal Tenderloin Tartare Tonato Style, Veal Sweatbread, Clear Watercress 'Spaghetti,' Uni Lobster Coulis.

Chef is so far including most of my favorite ingredients. Uni with sweatbreads really works. The veal tartare was a play on the classic Italian dish. It also showed the dish's renewed relevance today, as it upends the vegetarian/vegan tendency to fake the forbidden foods with mock versions. The fakery is in reverse--veal mocking tuna.

Dessert Course: Pandan Coconut Tapioca, Guava Gelee, Passion Fruit, Green Tea Emulsion.

Every element sung here. That edible flower, BTW, tasted like a watermelon. No joke.

It happened to be chef Quenioux's birthday on this evening. The Starry Kitchen team has a good camp sense of humor. I love the juxtaposition of this dessert with chef's!

Copyright 2011 Alison Pearlman. All rights reserved.

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