I AM A BELIEVER!!!
I have only been to one of Wolfgang Puck's fine dining restaurants - Spago. It's great, but who woulda thought that the same Austrian dude could do asian food?? After my experience at WP24, I now know why Wolfgang Puck is known for his asian fusion cuisine.
First of all, I would like to say that I have never had a bad experience at a Wolfgang Puck restaurant. It's definitely a huge plus. Nothing will ruin an otherwise fine meal more than a rude waiter or snooty m'aitre d. The service was spot on. The waiters came by just enough times to make us feel taken care of while still allowing us to enjoy our dining experience. Everyone was courteous and there was not even a hint of arrogance!The decor is interesting. I had to use a special elevator at the brand spankin' new Ritz Carlton to get to WP24. The restaurant itself is separated into 3 sections. There's a front room with a bar and some tables, then a central large room with tables caged in by these big wooden structures. Then there's the back room with a more fine dining feel to it. Don't worry - wherever you sit, there are floor to ceiling windows so you can enjoy the view from one of the tallest buildings in downtown LA.
I know, I know, when is she going to start talking about FOOD??
The amuse bouche was a deep fried shrimp paste with sesame and a sweet dipping sauce. It was ok, but hey, I don't expect too much from a free dish. =)
I started off with the peking duck egg rolls, duck liver buns and the crispy suckling pig. All of them were delicious!
The peking duck egg rolls were particularly impressive. The duck meat was incredibly juicy and tasty and it was perfectly fried. The really impressive part was addition of the lone asparagus spear in the center of the egg roll. When the filling is so tender and juicy, the egg roll could potentially taste like mush. However, the ingenious addition of the asparagus spear not only adds a flavor contrast, but more importantly, a texture contrast! Outstanding!
The duck liver buns were really yummy. It was basically a peking duck bun with a perfectly seared piece of foie gras tucked in the center with some veggies. The sauce...omg...the sauce! WP24 serves house-made hoisin sauce (I'm asian and even I don't know how to make that) and what tastes like sriracha spiked chinese mustard. Let me tell you, I always thought that a beautiful foie should stand on its own and excessive accouterment will only bring it down from its inherent glory - not so in this case! The sauces went REALLY well with the foie gras and with the bun, it became a very harmonized appetizer. Mmm mmm good!
The crispy suckling pig was beautifully cooked such that the skin was nice and crispy while the meat was succulent and delightful. However, if I had to pick an appetizer that was the most average, I'd have to say this is the one. But I mean, what are we comparing to here? In any other restaurant, this would be a hit. I just got spoiled at this point. ^_~
I had the loup de mer, clay pot kobe shortribs and the santa barbara shrimp.
They brought out the loup de mer en croute and it was so adorable. They even decorated it to look like a fish. However, after they operated on my fish, I'm surprised to only see several slivers of meat. Either way, it was still very tasty. The dish tasted like a more refined version of chinese steamed fish at a chinese restaurant. The meat was very flavorful and well-cooked. The sauce was a more balanced version of the soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, garlic and chili sauce that's usually poured over chinese steamed fish. Although it was very delicious, I didn't find it very special, aside from the beautiful presentation
The kobe shortribs were probably the disappointment of the evening for me. They were a little gummy when I bit into it, but it wasn't nearly as tough as I thought it would be. For kobe, that probably means it's overcooked. I felt like the shortribs should have been cooked until the meat is BARELY holding itself together cuz it's so tender. The flavor was very strong, but then again, it was served with rice, which means that its flavor was meant to be tempered by the starchy rice.
The Santa Barbara shrimp was delicately sweet, but I felt like it was slightly overcooked. This makes a difference because the shrimp is less juicy and the texture is a bit more chewy. What else can I say? It's just deep fried shrimp. *shrug*
I always get excited when I see interesting things on a dessert menu. An excellent pastry chef is almost as important as a good executive chef. I always wonder why some fine dining restaurants have mediocre or "standard" desserts when sometimes it's what a girl looks forward to all meal long. The rest of the meal is really just foreplay. I had the ovaltine trio, almond panna cotta with rhubarb and the calamansi vacherin.
First thing's first though. When I have dessert, I consider a good tea selection to be the cherry on top of my sundae. The sundae would be awesome without the cherry, but it's just that extra touch that makes everything right. WP24 has a lot of yummy teas to choose from. I chose the keemun tea. It's a black tea with a sweet plum flavor. It didn't exactly complement my dessert selections, but it was good enough to enjoy on its own. I just chalk it up to poor pairing on my part.
The ovaltine trio was actually good. How could humble ovaltine be made into good dessert? Ask Wolfgang. The ovaltine ice cream was amazingly good, the ovaltine banana filled flourless was pretty good and the malted chocolate bar was decent. The pepper ice cream was quite intriguing - it amazingly complemented the ovaltine and chocolate.
The calamansi vacherin was basically a flavored piece of meringue with fruit, sauces and some greenery. it was a pretty plate and was different, but the dish wasn't all that tasty. The waiter recommended it. *shrug*
Panna cotta is one of my favorite desserts. This one was made nicely. There's a lot of stuff going on in this dish. In some ways I wish that it were a bit less busy and had some more focus. My palatte was getting a bit confused. Panna cotta is easy, so it isn't hard to make it properly. There was an almond cookie on to of the panna cotta and a thin crispy phyllo-like piece on top of the panna cotta topped with rhubarb foam and candied rhubarb.
And of course a trip to the Ritz just isn't complete without seeing one of my favorite cars while waiting for the valet. Mmmm...the Audi R8! I like it better with the fins on