Matthew Kang follows up on The Most Played Out Dishes and Ingredients with his own choices.
A clever rendition of a French bistro classic went all wrong when half of the world’s fancy restaurants adopted this version using fresh tuna. First, people weren’t as scared of eating raw tuna since it’s about half as daunting as eating raw meat. Secondly, the preparation didn’t have any bookend or foundation upon which diners could rest, meaning that the whole thing just seemed like a nice gimmick. Just take low-grade tuna, however old it may be, attack it with the food processor or fast-action chef’s knife, mix with a variety of seasonings and sauces, and serve in a cylinder shape using a pipe cutout or metal mold. I can’t remember too many tuna tartares really surprising me, and I’d venture to say that the beef/steak tartare just blows it out of the water. Now if you were to obliterate a fine piece of tuna, craft it was some serious ingredients and top it with something that doesn’t overpower it? Then it might be worth ordering. Then again, you’re still probably paying too much for it.
I can’t tell you how many girls have told me they like brie. Brie? Most sensible guys (won’t exactly say why…) have an aversion to this chlorine smelling gooey thing of a cheese that’s only important because of its runny, creamy texture. The flavor is atrocious, something in between bleach and eighteen day old mascarpone. What annoys me more is that brie is happily included in a number of sandwiches and cheese places without any regard for quality or taste. It’s simply there because it’s fun to say and more girls simply like it for the texture. Of course, a superb Brillat–Savarin or other high quality double or triple cream is swell, if not remarkable. We’ve had a superb triple cream thanks to the wonderful fromagier at Comme Ca. But more of the time, brie is a bore. Don’t get it.
KOBE BEEF? ARE YOU SERIOUS?
The real thing is so good some well known basketball player named his son after it. I’d name my son Iberico or my daughter Sevruga (or Valrhona..serious about that one) if my fiancée let me, but one should never take the name Kobe in vain, which is what so many restaurants and eateries do. The real thing is an artisanal product that’s been revered by chefs and gastronomes alike. The stuff you’ll probably see in an ordinary restaurant is Wagyu, which is a similar type of breed used to make Kobe beef in Japan, but by no means the same. Sure, I’ve had superb Wagyu from Snake River Farms at Cut Steakhouse. Most of the “Kobe” beef is probably cheap cuts of low-quality wagyu, or even decent quality Wagyu, but it’s both disingenuous and misleading to flaunt a dish as having anything “Kobe” unless the meat was made in a select prefecture in Japan. On that note, I’ll say that Wagyu or even Angus are both annoying terms to see on a menu unless the dish really exploits that characteristic.
MEAL SIZED SALADS, OR MINUSCULE SALADS
I found it funny when I found a blog called “No Salad as a Meal.” Of course there are exceptions. Salads can make fine meals, such as a fantastic nicoise or even something my mother packs me for lunch. I love eating steak salads. However, this thing has gotten too far, especially in Los Angeles, where people love to eat salads by the boatload. Another problem I have is when salads are about the size of your closed fist. It just seems extremely skimpy and stingy when restaurants have the gall to put greens numbering the amount of your fingers on a plate. Seriously, it’ll cost you about 2 pennies to bump up the size of the salad to something around a decent appetizer, something to truly spruce up the palate and reign in the appetite. I think salads are at their ideal, in most circumstances, when they’re just enough to get you started, but not enough to fill you up. It’s all about balance.