On Sunday, Mikey Likes It welcomed one more restaurant to the four star party: Benu. He says the food has become more refined since he gave it 3.5 stars in the early-going. Corey Lee "uses...modern techniques in all the right ways" to combine Asian flavors with everything he learned during his years as chef de cuisine at The French Laundry. Bauer calls out several dishes: a shrimp mousse-stuffed sea cucumber, gnocchi-esque rice cakes, foie dumplings, the signature mock shark's fin soup, and an "edible amber container" composed of pork belly, kimchi creme fraiche and a single raw oyster.
"This juxtaposition of classic Asian ingredients and focused preparations follows through the 17 courses, where some of Lee's highly refined combinations make few concessions to the American palate. He takes the authentic textures of Asian ingredients, mixes them with his Western training, and gives everything a breathtaking twist. No other four-star chef is so in tune with the Asian culture and uses it to inform every aspect of the experience."
Thus, the $180 price tag for 17 courses is totally justified. Sommelier Yoon Ha's $110 optional wine parings are "sheer genius," and Benu gets to enjoy four big juicy stars with the other big boys: Chez Panisse, Coi, Cyrus, French Laundry, La Folie, Manresa and Meadowood.
· All Benu Coverage [~ ESF ~]