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Feb 8, 2010 09:59 AM

Some appearances at the David Chang dinner at Lantern

Just called The Lantern to see if they could give me a few more details on what will be served at the David Chang nine course tasting menu tomorrow night. I didn't get a lot of information, but as you all know, the food served will be from recipes in the cookbook. The guy I spoke with confirmed we will be eating some fluke sashimi, shaved foie gras, clams and fried chicken. That's all the info he gave me, he also said that they will not be serving Momofuku's rice cakes (one of my personal faves).

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  1. Here's the menu from last night (I'm fairly certain it will be the same tonight)

    Oysters with kimchi puree
    Ramen broth with nori

    9 Courses
    Fluke with buttermilk, soy and poppy seeds
    Shaved foie gras with lychee and pine nut brittle
    Fried cauliflower with fish sauce vinaigrette (this was a stand out)
    Clams in a bacon dashi soup with fingerling potatoes
    Gala apple salad with kimchi, ,smoked jowl and maple labne
    Momofuku pork buns (also a stand out)
    Fried chicken with octo vinaigrette and pea greens
    RC cola slushi with Meyer lemon sherbet
    Cereal milk panna cotta with avocado and a "chocolate hazelnut thing"

    Starter cocktail was sparkling sake made in house. The wine pairings were great.

    16 Replies
    1. re: anne7134

      ah, the shaved foie gras. i suspected that might make an appearance!

        1. re: anne7134

          I had to pick the pork out of all the pork dishes, so I can't fully review everything, but here's my take:

          Loved all the appetizers

          The fluke in buttermilk was great. Served sashimi style, Nice kick from a chile of some sort.

          The fois gras was SPECTACULAR, and completely unlike anything I have ever eaten. It looked at first like a pile of sawdust, with a few larger chunks in it. I assumed the chunks were the fois gras. Then as soon as you took a bite, the "sawdust" just completely melted in your mouth with a creamy, rich fois gras flavor. The chunkiness came from the lychees and the pine nut brittle.

          I loved the cauliflower. It's one of my favorite vegetables anyway. The dish reminded me of chaat.

          The clam and bacon soup had a very, very smokey flavor, to the extent that the smoke overwhelmed all the other flavors. However, the wine paring with that dish was rather exceptional, so the wine saved the course in my book.

          Apple salad was good, nice spicy kimchi flavor.

          The buns, for me, were just the bun, cucumber, and hoisen, so I can't fairly review that one.

          The fried chicken was EXCELLENT. Had a sort of nuac cham sauce. Very tender inside, super crispy and deliciously salty thin skin.

          RC cola slushi was very good, but nothing to write home about.

          The meal ended on a low note for me with the panna cotta. It was very salty, not sweet, the avocado added no flavor, just color, and the flavors just were not balanced. I found it actually hard to eat, and ended up leaving half of it on my plate.

          The wines were, on the whole, really nice. And we happened to be seated with a fantastic group of really interesting people. So overall, it was a really nice experience, even if the food wasn't perfect.

          1. re: durhamois

            "I had to pick the pork out of all the pork dishes"

            This is a David Chang dinner, right? So don't you also have to pick the pork out of all the non-pork dishes, too?

            1. re: durhamois

              Thank you SO MUCH for this post! Gives me something to look forward to. My husband and I always get two orders of pork buns when we go to Momofuku, I am definitely looking forward to those tonight! My dad found them inedible we took him to the restaurant, but he doesn't like pork belly in general.

              I tried making the cereal milk panna cotta a couple of weeks ago, it was my first time working with gelatin. DISASTER! I have a whole new appreciation for the dessert. The panna cotta didn't set. Powdered gelatin is no friend of mine. The first time I ate cereal milk anything was cereal milk softserve at Milk Bar (NYC, also David Chang). That inspired me to turn my failed panna cotta into cereal milk ice cream bars. Not a total disaster, but to durhamois' point above, it is extremely rich, with a very bold sweet/salty/creaminess best eaten in small portions.

              1. re: MissFancyPants

                While I'm unsure of the Cereal Milk panna cotta, I have made white chocolate panna cotta to resounding success. Hope you give it another shot and are more successful!

              2. re: durhamois

                To add to this review, the pork (if you eat pork) was the best part of every course it was in. Every piece was deliciously cooked, just perfect, and I wish that I had a plate of the jowls sitting in front of me right now.

                I didn't enjoy the foie gras as much as you did. I thought it was good and interesting in a academic way, but I prefer a more traditional presentation. I normally don't enjoy lychees, but they were very nice in this dish.

                I found the smokey flavor of the soup overwhelming but the wine paired was outstanding.

                Overall, I enjoyed the meal, but it felt like it was lacking something and I can't put my finger on what it was missing. My husband was over the moon about the meal, but I felt like it was clear that everything was cooked out of a cookbook and it felt a little perfunctory.

              3. re: anne7134

                what wine did they pair with the fluke sashimi in buttermilk? that's got challenge written all over it!

                1. re: MissFancyPants

                  did they offer any wine pairings from scholium project? man, i'd be so bummed if they did (since i can't drink!)

                  1. re: MissFancyPants

                    2007 Domaine de la Pepiere Granite de Clisson

                    1. re: anne7134

                      Just to qualify this wine, it's a Muscadet. After receiving a phone call the day of to say we got in to the dinner, my wife and I excitedly drove to Chapel Hill for the event. I agree with most of the original post, but will add some comments. The first three dishes were excellent and got better with each course. The cauliflower was my favorite of the night and truly exceptional. The clams in bacon dashi was a miss. It tasted like liquid smoke and had no elements to work as a counterpoint. Fuji apple and kimchi salad rocked, as did the pork bun (no-brainer). But the fried chicken, while edible and moderately tasty, was a disappointment. The chicken is first poached, then fried for a much shorter time than normal. This results in a thinner and less crunchy crust that got soggy when dressed with octo vinaigrette.

                      The two sweet courses were fine but not compelling, with the avocado almost ruining the panna cotta (which was executed perfectly as far as texture). I was excited they chose the cereal milk upon arrival, but in hindsight would have rather had the fried apple pie.

                      Overall, the dinner was well executed and fun to attend. Great, esoteric wine pairings that worked well with each dish (except the white port on dessert). The service was particularly great, especially considering the amount of courses and different wines. The crowd (extremely white) seemed into it, although there were more than a few in the pretentious/insecure category. The bottom line is I would ante up the cash and go again if they decided to do it. I also am more inclined to go to Lantern on a normal night.

                      1. re: veganhater

                        Did Chef Chang come out and talk with patrons? I dont' think I've seen anyone mentioning it (for those that were at that particular dinner).

                        1. re: veganhater

                          the bacon is from allan benton, and it is EXTREMELY smoky. in fact, when i give it to friends, i warn them that it verges on overpowering. if you go to benton's in madisonville, you will smell like a smokehouse even if you are only inside for five minutes.

                          the bacon works in some dishes, but is not suited for others. it is unapologetic for its intensity.

                          1. re: cervisiam

                            He sat at a table the entire night, but didn't move around much. Guests aproached him after the meal for book autographs and such. He was very pleasant, but not what I would call outgoing. I wonder if anyone on board got to Southern Seasons for his appearance?

                            As for the bacon, it was my first experience with Benton's. I've had his ham, which was fantastic, and thought it was properly smoked. Maybe making the dashi broth into a bacon version brought out too much smoke, but it came off as acrid. Keep in mind it was not an inedible dish and I did finish it. If you're a fan of liquid smoke you may have loved it.

                            1. re: veganhater

                              veganhater is right--David Chang was there, sat at a table, and didn't move around much. I expected that. I think that in this age of celebrity chef culture, we kind of forget that chefs are back of house guys, most comfortable working their tails off surrounded by others who are working their tails off. I was reminded of that at the Chang dinner. I've never been to culinary school (no plans for that), but I don't think they have a class there called "what to do in case you get famous and people expect you to be all nice and a PR person all of a sudden". I'm not being critical of earlier posts, I just realized this kind of funny expectation to be sweethearts that we force on chefs once they become famous.

                              1. re: MissFancyPants

                                Yeah I think you are right that most chefs are very focused.. I guess that would be the best way to put it. I mean some chefs (and I would expect those with a chefs table) are a bit more open and gregarious, but for the most part they tend to mind what is essentially an extension of themselves and that is their food and their staff. Plus if you just cooked a ton of dishes or organized it, you probably are a bit tired.

                  2. MissFancyPants-

                    Thanks for the info. The rice cake recipe is in the book. I've made it a few times and it's great at home.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Tom from Raleigh

                      Yes, I've made the rice cakes from the cookbook, but I've got to admit, I didn't make the rice cakes from scratch. We used the store bought ones (oval discs a bit larger than quarters) that are very different from the rice cakes at the restaurant. The Korean Red Dragon sauce recipe is DY-NO-MITE! We use it on everything. Ssamjang changed my life.

                      So did you make the rice cakes? Curious if they are worth the effort. We are still perfecting the texture of the roasted rice cakes in this recipe, but even when they are bad they are soooo goood.

                      1. re: MissFancyPants


                        Make rice cakes from scratch? That's not in the recipe. I don't believe they do so at Ssam. I agree that the ones I've cooked at home are different than the ones I ate in the restaurant. I've tried boiling and then frying them, but they're an unholy mess to fry, like frying a gooey marshmallow.

                    2. just reading this entry - what a great dinner! didn't get to lantern, but did meet mr chang at southern season. he was very pleasant friendly and took all the time in the world to talk. he graciously signed the book for my son, a sushi chef in colorado. i couldn't say enough about his generosity of spirit.

                      1. indyweek interview:

                        includes a VERY funny answer about the signing at southern season...

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: cervisiam

                          Thanks for that link. A fun read!