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Jul 1, 2012 04:35 AM

Red Medicine: A Pictorial Essay

Verdict: Must-go. Chef Jordan Kahn and his team offer fantastic service and some really intriguing cuisine at Red Medicine. I feel there are two really great things about Red Medicine:

One: The first thing most diners notice upon entering the restaurant is the veritable cornucopia of fresh flowers, branches, grasses and herbs at Chef Kahn's ready disposal in the kitchen. Rediscovering these naturally growing herbs, succulents and vegetables is a centerpiece of his food philosophy, and it's evident in every dish served at Red Medicine. Plants such as licorice flowers, young fennel, chrysanthemum, wood sorrel are all used to stunning effect to challenge the palate of the diner. The presentation of his dishes are beautiful like a floral arrangement.

Two: Chef Kahn's desserts alone make Red Medicine a destination eatery. It's very apparent to me that the imaginative spark for the desserts here require a significant amount of thinking "outside the box". They are definitely not your typical fine dining desserts, and I'm glad they're not.

Highlights (N.B.: The menu changes regularly based on seasonal availability of ingredients):

- Foie gras / mousse, tête de cochon, beet, kohlrabi, chicory, croissant... Here, the foie gras serves its role within the dish instead of dominating the palate. Of course, this dish will not be available after June 30th, due to the statewide foie gras ban.

- Dutch white asparagus / salsify, almond milk, burdock root, pomelo... The almond milk coating the white asparagus is just terrific.

- Brussels sprouts / caramelized shallots, fish sauce, vermouth... Super. Southeast Asian fish sauce with Brussels sprouts... It works!

- Chinese Lion Peppers / almond skins, honey, soy, violet basil, dates... I order shishito peppers (or similar peppers) whenever I see them on a menu. The Red Medicine version of peppers offers an interesting curve-ball to this dish. It is complex and satisfying.

Interestingly. I did NOT find the much-lauded uni porridge to be a great dish. Don't get me wrong - It's certainly good, but I just didn't find that spark of genius (or umami) in this bowl. Perhaps it's because I had too much great porridge growing up.

Nor did I think the wild Santa Barbara spot prawns was that amazing, either. I felt the lemongrass detracted from the taste, and the hot river rocks overcooked the shrimp tails. Frying the shrimp heads also deprived me of that great "shrimp brain" taste I so look forward to when I usually enjoy this prawn. The banchan served with this large format dish were good, but did not rescue this dish overall for my palate.

Desserts - Again, worth the price of admission alone:

- Coconut bavarois / coffee, condensed milk, Thai basil, peanut croquant... Smooth but "challenging" in taste, in a really nice way. Awesome.

- Birch ice / almond praline, red currant, green almond, jasmine... How does Chef Kahn come up with this stuff? Extraordinary. Yes, it definitely is on the "molecular" side, and it is reminiscent of Wylie Dufresne's dishes at wd~50 in NYC. Just so, so good...

- Green strawberry / frozen cream, sorrel, elderflower, wild chervil... Unripe, tart green strawberries as the main star in a dessert? Don't knock it 'til you've tried it. This dessert changed the way I look at unripe fruit. I was blown away by how unique and balanced this dessert was.

And yes, I did end up having a bahn mi at the Red Medicine bar, along with some cocktails after dinner. While the bahn mi was good, it was the cocktails which will have me coming back for more.

- Cocktail #9.1- Batavia Arrack van oosten, tamarind, Demerera sugar, lime, shaken and served up with condensed milk foam and black lime ("tamarind sour")... Solid.

- Cocktail #71 - Hennessey VS cognac, creme de menthe, creme de cacao, milk, shaken and served up ("'Grasshopper' meets 'Stinger' meets 'Brandy Alexander'")... Tasty. Very addictive.

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  1. It'd be nice if I added said photos to my pictorial essay... :-P

    3 Replies
    1. re: J.L.

      Been looking forward to this photo essay! Looks stellar as usual.

      For the porridge, it looks like you mixed it all up. I find it much more delicious just eating the porridge with 1 or 2 components (ie keeping the accoutrements separate).

      Red Medicine truly elevates the level of dining in LA.

      1. re: Porthos

        Actually, I did do my homework before going to RM - I mixed only 1 or 2 components at a time for the porridge... This photo was taken towards the end of my patience with this technique... :-)

      2. re: J.L.

        "The first thing most diners notice upon entering the restaurant is the veritable cornucopia of fresh flowers, branches, grasses and herbs at Chef Kahn's ready disposal in the kitchen."
        The first thing I noticed was a wave of noise.
        Hard to praise the food enough. I don't see how locals resist repeated visits. The folks who got me here don't even try to resist. A treasure.

      3. Hey, J.L. (Sleepless in L.A.? - an homage to Nora Ephron) I have to say that I am in agreement about the greatness of Red Medicine. Maybe I'm lucky not to have grown up with porridge, because I loved the uni and egg version at RM. I also loved the green strawberry dessert, but not quite as much as the coconut bavarois.

        Just one question. Where are the photos in your photo essay? I'm not seeing them.

        ADD: Ha ha...while I was typing you were putting the photos in...good timing. Thanks.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Servorg

          Sleeplessness makes people (read: me) hit the "Post My Reply" button before attaching photos, quite frequently.

          1. re: J.L.

            I'll cop to being guilty of getting plenty wrong in the very early am...and I'm just cooling down from my long weekend ride around the town. As to some of the other dishes we had that you also had (and some that we didn't). I loved their foie gras dish. As you noted, not all about the foie, but just a wonderful subtle undercurrent and I also thought the dish was visually stunning. We didn't get the spot prawns but instead went with the brisket and thought that was home run. Also was knocked out by the brussels sprouts. Just a blast of fish sauce with it's salty, tangy punch to the taste buds and then the charred sprouts came in behind to put you on the canvass. Great flavor combinations all the way around.

            1. re: Servorg

              Another great dinner at RM last night. Chicken dumplings (which are nothing like any dumpling that I've ever had, but great none the less), Brussels sprouts, charred uni and live scallop and ended with coconut bavarois (see menu links below for descriptions of all dishes). Two glasses of wine and two beers. Tab was $106, plus tip. And for the celebrity spotters we sat right in front of Jesse Tyler Ferguson with a party of 6 or 7. My only issue is noise. Way too noisy. And the room wasn't even full. The friend I ate with said that she and her husband ate at Gusto on 3rd last week and that it was TWICE as noisy as RM was last night. I can't even imagine that.



              1. re: Servorg

                What, the congee is no longer on the menu?!

        2. Sometimes I don't know if I am more jealous of your camera, or your mouth.


          1 Reply
          1. re: ipsedixit

            many NSFW comments to be found in this post.