Red Medicine

8400 Wilshire Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
redmedicinela.com

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Red Medicine is ranked 48th in the US (6th in Southern California) in the 2013 edition of the OAD Restaurant Survey. Chef Jordan Kahn has worked in some of the top kitchens in the US, at the age of 17 he worked at the French Laundry becoming the youngest chef to work in the legendary kitchen.  Red Medicine is Kahn’s first solo effort, specializing in progressive food that incorporates Vietnamese flavors.  The restaurant produces some of LA’s most ambitious plates, but is no stranger to controversy; earlier this year the restaurant garnered some negative press by publicly shaming reservation no-shows.

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But let there be no controversy about the food; simply amazing.  Red Medicine offered some of the most visually stunning and innovative dishes I have ever eaten.  We arrived close to opening and the restaurant was fairly empty, our table did have a nice view of the kitchen.  We decided to start with a couple of cocktails; the drink menu lists the flavors of, but not the liquors in the cocktails.

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After some deliberation we decided on #87 and #88.

#87

#87

#88

#88

#87 – crushed ice, mint, spice, chai.  This was the stronger of the two drinks, it tasted like a mint julep with some spicy chai notes.  #88 – carbonated, spicy, pineapple, fresh herbs.  This drink was the more refreshing of the two, it was like a spicy pineapple mojito.6I0B7379

Prior to our arrival we had decided on ordering the chef’s tasting menu, a six course menu priced at 65 dollars.

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1st course – Wild brook trout roe underneath a savory lemon custard, sunflower seed granola, raw snap peas and an ice made from pea shells, extra virgin sunflower oil, frozen yogurt powder, dried onion juice meringue, tender pea vines and baby onion bulbs brined in vinegar.  Served under a disc of pea shell ice, the first course was presented beautifully emulating a terrarium.  It was also an adventure for the palette, no two bites being the same.  I was not a fan of every spoonful, since there was a little too much going on sometimes, but I did appreciate the effort.  My favorite combination was when I got a little custard, granola, some peas and a brined onion.  The lemon kissed custard was nicely balanced by the fresh peas, acidic onions and crunchy granola.  My dining companion thought that the course was one of the most amazing dishes he had ever tasted.

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2nd course – A custard of fresh cream surrounded by young anthocyanin roots, legumes and stalks, roasted walnut marzipan, dried cabbage, sour rhubarb juice infused with fragrant verbena.  This plate was also visually stunning, the rich shades of purple contrasting the white custard.  The roots and legumes added crunch and earthiness, the rhubarb juice contributed a punch of acid, the marzipan was sweet and chewy, the cabbage chips were light and salted nicely and the custard served as a creamy backdrop to all the textures and flavors.  I enjoyed how the rhubarb juice and vegetation lightened the dish despite being anchored by a custard.

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Additional course – Chicken dumplings with caramelized sugar, pork fat, lemongrass, confitures.  The dumplings were the most Vietnamese dish of the night, they were served with mint, limes, fried shallots, pickles, butter lettuce cups and hoisin and hot sauce.  The meatballs were rich and juicy and the condiments added nice sweet, fresh, acidic, crunchy, spicy, oniony notes that heightened the flavor of the protein.  I enjoyed the simplicity of the dish.

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3rd  course – Oregon Dungeness crab seasoned with a shell and liver emulsion wrapped in crystal lettuce and grilled over Japanese charcoal, fermented garlic paste, passion fruit juice thickened with egg yolks, mushrooms, tubers with spicy leaves and herbs.  This dish was like unwrapping a present and being surprised with a very tasty morsel, the crab wrapped in lettuce hidden beneath the potato nest.  The potatoes were light and crispy, the fermented garlic was sweet, the passion fruit emulsion was creamy with sour tones that paired went well with the delicate flavor of the crab.  The dish was well balanced, composed of familiar ingredients, an excellent seafood course.

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4th course – Young potatoes gently poached in a cream of cultured sweet butter and yeast, crispy rice dumplings, wild grasses, flowers and succulents foraged from the Malibu coast with an aromatic sauce of raw wheatgrass and chive juice.  The sauce was the star of this dish, rich and buttery with a yeasty undertones, the wheatgrass and chive juice added a freshness which elevated the sauce.  The potatoes were tender, the pickled onions provided the perfect amount of acid and the rice dumplings were crispy and chewy and were another medium to sop up the sauce.  While innovative, I did not enjoy the succulents as they left an unpleasant slimy mouthfeel after consumption.

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5th course – Lamb’s shoulder, slow roasted with sequoia redwood shoots, ripe and unripe mango, yellow roots, preserved mustard seeds, puffed soymilk skin and wild yarrow leaves.  The lamb had deep flavors and was expertly prepared, slightly charred on the outside and tender on the inside, the acidic sauce, mango and mustard seeds balanced the rich meat superbly.  The soymilk skin added a wonderfully light and crispy element to the dish.  The lamb was a great way to conclude the savory portion of the tasting.

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6th course – Shaved ice of redwood stems, sour red currant berries and jelly, crème chiboust flavored with jasmine flowers, crispy rice crackers, orange blossom bubbles and roasted almond praline.  This dessert was brilliantly conceived and almost flawlessly executed.  The first bite was almost overwhelmingly floral as your palette is cleansed by the orange blossom and jasmine.  Each subsequent bite becomes notably less floral as you begin to enjoy the other flavors.  The redwood stem ice was cold and refreshing, the currant berries were a lovely sour element and the white chocolate praline rounded out the dessert.  The execution of the praline was so smart; every bite of praline would stick to the roof of your mouth, allowing one to taste the other flavors first and finish with the creamy praline which provided the perfect sweet ending to the dessert.  My only issue with the dish were the rice crackers, they ended up being soggy as they sat in the dessert, a crispy rice cracker would have added the textural component the dessert lacked.  The dessert was amazing though, it was definitely one of the best desserts I have ever had.

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Additional course – Coconut bavarois, coffee, condensed milk, Thai basil, peanut croquant.  Yet another masterpiece of a dessert.  I am a sucker for all things coconut and I was not disappointed.  The coffee ice cream was bitter and paired exquisitely with the luscious, tropical Bavarian cream.  The Thai basil added a refreshing herbal note and the peanut croquant was nutty and crunchy infused with the perfect amount of salt.  The dessert was outstanding and I understand why it is a customer favorite.

I loved the meal overall, it was innovative and risky with many hits and just a few misses. Personally, I preferred the dishes with fewer ingredients, sometimes less is indeed more.  Kahn is a master of the dessert; I would return to Red Medicine just to indulge in his sweet creations.  A superb meal which is definitely worthy of its ranking on the OAD restaurant survey.

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