Saturday, August 7, 2010

LudoBites 5.0

Chef Ludo Lefebvre is a modern-day guerilla. He has the crazed look of a seasoned chef, with tattoos to match. With several versions of LudoBites and a food truck under his belt, Chef Ludo did not disappoint.

When you have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to try a menu that only has a one-week lifespan, you have to get everything. Several of the dishes flaunted entirely innovative and mind-boggling concepts. Others were recognizable, but concealed huge surprises. Needless to say, Chef Ludo's food is always, at the very least, exciting. If I were to characterize his food in a few words, I would say it's bold, playful, and lastly, a little lewd.

The first course was simple, but still makes my mouth water.

The Vadouvan Naan Bread with Salted Coconut Butter had just the right amount of saltiness, and the coconut butter complimented the naan in a way that brought out all of the naan's rich and earthy flavors. In a way, this first course simplified what the rest of the meal was going to be: perfectly unexpected flavor profiles.

Of the remaining fifteen stellar dishes, three dishes shone the brightest: the Poached Egg, Potato Mousseline, and Chorizo Condiment; the Hot Foie Gras Dynamite, Tuna, Lychee, and Crackers; and the Steamed Duck Lemon Verbena, Crispy Skin Puree, White Peach, Radish, and Balsamic.

If you think you've had a perfectly poached egg, think again. Chef Ludo's poached egg not only spills with golden yolk, but the yolk and the whites' textures are identical. Throw that on top of a beautifully creamy potato mousseline with a hint of chorizo, and you've got yourself an unforgettable dish. The poached egg blended so well with the mousseline that they seemed like one, complete unit rather than two separate components. There was just enough chorizo condiment to keep you begging for more. Stop getting excited when you eat eggs and hash browns with tabasco for dinner. This dish makes the phrase "breakfast for dinner" more legitimate than ever.

The Hot Foie Gras Dynamite, Tuna, Lychee, and Crackers was explosive. With perfectly seared tuna and foie gras, this dish took a successful departure from your traditional surf and turf. The best part about this dish as a whole was that whenever you felt like the dish was getting a bit heavy, you could just pop a lychee in your mouth and keep eating your way through the dish.

The dynamite sauce was the best I've had, dovetailing the right amount of cream and kick. The cracker "pâté" also offered just enough starch for those who can't handle the heat. This dish is a paragon of what Asian fusion should be.

The Steamed Duck Lemon Verbena, Crispy Skin Puree, White Peach, Radish, and Balsamic is as interesting as it sounds. Though a bit too salty for some, the Crispy Skin Puree was addictive, and balanced well with the succulent, roasted peach and refreshing side of radish. This dish is a classic example of a dish that truly comes together when all the components are eaten together in one bite. This dish challenges your tongue to tackle several simultaneous tastes, in the best way possible.

Other notable components of different dishes were the Candied Olives, Fresh Wasabi Salsa, Whole Grain Mustard and Honey Comb, and Salted Butter Powder.

Lightly Smoked Grilled Squid, Cold White Bean Cream, Candied Olives, Prosciutto Chips, Meyer Lemon.

Les Fromages: Camenbert with Apricots-Lavender, Epoisse with Whole Grain Mustard and Honey Comb, Sain-Nectaire with Pear Kimchi Chutney.

Wild Striped Bass, Grilled Yellow Corn Mexican Style, Salted Butter Powder, Fresh Wasabi Salsa.

Salsa verde with wasabi and mustard with honey both made perfect sense the moment I put them in my mouth.

Another dish (the Wagyu Beef, Dried Miso, Somen Noodle, Peanut Vinaigrette, and Watermelon) seemed somewhat humdrum at first because of its similarity to a typical Korean beef tartare, but the simple addition of a few pieces of watermelon breached tradition and brought this dish to another level.

The rest of the dishes were also great, but less noteworthy.

Cheese Cupcake, Foie Gras-Chicken Liver & Chantilly, Tangerine, Cornichon.

Heirloom Tomato Smoothie, Ice Dashi, Squid Ink Vodka-Gelee, Seaweed.

Goat Cheese Soup, Bacon, Lardo, Tofu, Green Apple, Frisee Salad.

Grilled Octopus, Oregano, Grilled Hazelnut Polenta, Pineapple Aioli, Piment D'Espellette Gelee.

Confit Pork Belly, Raw Choucroute Thai Style, Mustard Ice Cream.

Dessert was a trio of trios.

Of the three triplets, the Caramel Souffle, Blanco Grapefruit, and Fleur De Sel Ice Cream took the gold.

The Matcha Green Tea Almond Cake, Red Berries, and Mascarpone Mousse took a respectable second, while the Campfire Smoked S'mores, and Guacamole Sorbet took a thought-provoking third.

The souffle was perfection. At the waiter's suggestion, we dumped the ice cream into the middle of the moist souffle. The creamy, yet refreshing ice cream melted into the warm and welcoming souffle. The souffle was like a sun-kissed cloud in my mouth, riding on a soft breeze of caramel. Each bite was like the first, reminding my taste buds of just how special this souffle was.

The service and space were just as thoughtful as the food. They don't serve any alcohol, and you can bring your own, but it's unnecessary. The food speaks for itself.

Reservations are hard to come by at this point, so keep your eyes and ears open for cancelled reservations via his Twitter feed, @chefludo. Otherwise, wait for news of an inevitable sixth edition of LudoBites and make reservations right when they become available.

LudoBites 5.0 @ Gram & Papa's
227 E. 9th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015

GET: The Menu.

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