ink — Los Angeles (2/2014)

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A search for molecular cuisine brought up ink.  The chef is Michael Voltaggio.  The menu is a list of small plates and the preparatory techniques are modern.  My reservation was for a Friday night.  It’s located on Melrose Ave. just a few blocks east of La Cienega Blvd., very close to West Hollywood.  The restaurant is large, with tables, booths, a counter and a bar.  The atmosphere is modern, hip, with a loud buzz of music and crowd noise, although it was not difficult to converse.           

The wine by the glass list offered a nice enough variety.  I spotted a rarity on it as they offered a sparkling Riesling as a choice. I went with that, as I thought it might be the optimal combination – kind of like champagne, but a Riesling, which has been my choice of late.  It ended up being just okay.

The server described the menu as lighter fare towards the top and heavier as one works down the list.  The suggestion is to have 2-3 selections per person.  I guess because everything is considered more like a small plate or something to share, there was no tasting menu.  This made it difficult for me to decide, as I wasn’t really sure how much food I would be getting. Yet, I wanted the opportunity to sample as many dishes as I could.

For the full write-up, click here.

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Si Wha Dam — Seoul (1/2014)

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I found a Top Ten list for restaurants in Seoul a couple of months before my trip to Seoul.  Si Wha Dam caught my attention from the photos they showed and the experience of modern Korean fine dining with the arts in a museum-like setting.  They had a section of their website in English where they described 4 menus of different lengths with very beautiful pictures of the courses.  There was a form to fill out for the reservation, for which I chose a lunch-time slot. At the time, it seemed like I was all set, although I did not receive a confirmation email as a response after submitting the form and getting the message that space was available.

As my lunch-time slot approached, I walked up to the restaurant in Itaewon and was surprised to see that the restaurant was closed.  I hung around for a little while just to see if anyone was going to show up.  All I saw were a couple of people inside and outside cleaning the windows.  I gave up and headed back to my hotel, where I decided I was going to try for a last-minute dinner spot with the assistance of my hotel’s Executive Lounge Concierge.

What the concierge found out was that if they don’t have enough reservations, they do not open the main restaurant in Itaewon.  They did have room at the Insadong location for dinner that night, although they normally don’t do the menus for one person.  But they would take me, so I was booked for that evening.

This branch of the restaurant is much smaller and did not have the museum ambience. It was slightly more convenient, located right on the main pedestrian shopping street in Insadong.  The interior resembled a standard Korean restaurant set-up. The antiques and paintings from the other location were not part of the décor here.

For the full write-up, click here.