Nori and buckwheat cracker is in place of bread.
Thousand-year-old quail egg with home made tofu, chrysanthemum and black moss paired with light and crisp 2008 Hiedler "Löss" Grüner from Austria.
Oyster, cabbage, pork belly and fermented pepper. Layers of flavors that resembled ones of a dumpling but cleaner and more sophisticated.
Sea urchin, celery, almond and dark chocolate paired with Wakatake Onikoroshi (Demon Slayer) Junmai Daiginjo Sake from Shizuoka, Japan. The sake brought out the sweetness of the incredibly fresh uni.
Sake lees, foie gras, mountain yam and yuzu. We were surprised with the sorbet paired with foie gras. Sweet and savory with the coolness is pleasant on the palette. My only concern was the lack of the bold flavors of foie gras.
Eel, feuille de brick, crème fraiche. Lime caramelized anchovy, peanut and lily bulb. Dehydrated salt and pepper squid. Chef Lee's interpretation of Korean bar/finger foods paired with the most delightful Kiuchi Brewery Kitachino Nest white ale from Ibaraki, Japan. With the texture and flavors similar to shrimp chips, the dehydrated squid was my favorite of the three.
Abalone Grenobloise paired with 2008 De Ladoucette Pouilly-Fumé from Loire, France.
First of the Spring vegetables with dashi and parmesan. This beautifully presented dish resembles a pond. We loved fragrant dashi.
Monkfish liver torchon, turnip and apple served with brioche paired with 2009 Von Simmern Erbacher Marcobrunn Riesling from Germany.
Mock shark's fin soup with Dungeness crab, Jinhua ham, and black truffle custard paired with 1968 Blandy's Verdelho Madeira from Portugal. The chef opted out of using shark's fin because if its non-sustainable and controversial status. He instead made the mock fin out of the same broth it swims in. The black truffle custard at the bottom is amazingly fragrant. Paired with the Madeira (Sommelier Ha's interpretation of brandy or cognac that is usually paired with shark's fin soup in Hong Kong), the dish is genius and out of this world.
Fresh noodles with shrimp roe, tarragon and chicken jus paired with 2006 Emilio Moro Ribera del Duero from Spain. The noodle is chewy and firm with the umami flavor at the top of its game.
Beef braised in pear, endive, date and watercress paired with 2004 Roger Sabon Prestige Châteauneuf-du-Pape from Rhône River Valley, France. The only red meat and non-seafood dish on the tasting menu, the beef was aromatic, tender, and simply perfection.
Rhubarb, cucumber and white sesame. Refreshing palette cleanser.
Banana ice cream, burnt acorn and ginger gelée paired with 2005 Chateau Doisy-Daëne Barsac Sauternes from France. The ginger flavors tied the entire Asian influenced tasting menu together. As a ginger fan, I appreciate the spiciness of the ginger unaltered in the desserts which worked exceptionally well with the acorn.
Chocolate with an artfully crafted cappuccino & a pure Oolong tea ended our meal.
Benu, Egyptian for Phoenix, signifies rebirth.
Pronounced ben-oo (and not ben-yoo), Benu is a rebirth of haute cuisine as interpreted by the Chef Corey Lee and a destination for the adventurous, open-minded foodie. Any preconceived notions of haute cuisine should be left at the door. Chef Corey Lee is classically French trained in terms of techniques, but his Korean/Asian background comes through heavily in the flavors profile. The presentation and the flavors were innovative and unique. The utensils and dinnerware are specifically designed for the tasting menu. The décor is modern minimalistic, almost a tad too minimalistic and incoherent for me. I was expecting something a bit more chic and a bit more designed. The ceiling is not quite high enough so the dining room gets a bit noisy.
We first tasted Chef Corey Lee's ingenuity a few years ago at The French Laundry but we were even more impressed with our experience at Benu. We thoroughly enjoyed every course and the impeccable wine pairing prepared by head sommelier Yoon Ha. Knowledgeable, sophisticated, and social, Ha is a master in his craft.
Chef Corey Lee, I can hear the Michelin Stars calling.