Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Bazaar

The Bazaar is home to one of the most exciting, innovative, and playful eating experiences in L.A. Its menu is jam-packed with José Andrés' clever concoctions and challenging dishes. Even the so-called traditional tapas take you for a loop. The Bazaar is also one of the best places in L.A. to get a concentrated sampling of L.A. pretention. If you think you know L.A.'s collection of ritzy real housewives, cologne-drenched clubbers, super sweet sixteens, temperamental teen moms, and gaming Jersey Shore bros, think again. This collection is so absurdly ridiculous that I can't help but love the motley crew The SLS Hotel tends to serve. Let's hope I'm not any of those things...

To be honest, it's taken me a while to write a post on The Bazaar. What can I say about The Bazaar that hasn't already been said before? Also, who wants to sit through over 40 lengthy descriptions of a growing pile of pictures of food from The Bazaar? In the interest of, well, keeping your interest, I've decided to keep commentary short and savory. If anything, this post will just be another contribution to the Internet's humungous pile of nomography.

The Golden Boy. Amontillado sherry, cava, lemon, simple syrup, orange bitters, and little bit of that thing called gold. A soft, sweet, and refreshing way to start the meal.

Lotus Root Chips. Crispy, thin, slices of lotus root dusted with star anise and Maldon salt. These can't be any harder to mass produce than greasy potato chips, Frito Lay.

Olive Oil Bonbons. Beautiful, delicate teardrops of crunchy, candied olive oil with a vinaigrette burst in the center. Really fun and clever.

Bagel & Lox Steam Bun. Unreal smoked salmon roe and an addictive dill cream cheese. Unfortunately, the steam bun was like a brick of flour.

Tuna Handroll 2009. One of the best things I ate that night. A treasure trove of tuna jewels, a thick nori purée, and a delicate and crispy filo cone. Imagine the best tuna handroll you've ever had. Now sprinkle some crack.

Black Olives Ferran Adrià. Table-side service.

Black Olives Ferran Adrià. Just as fun of a texture as I remember, but I like the ones I had at Jaleo better. These were a lot saltier.

José's Combination. Deliciously fatty serrano ibérico and rich caviar de Riofrío. Both were fantastic individually. Eaten together, they drowned each other out a little. A little more caviar on anything never hurt anybody.

Pastrami Saul. Veal breast pastrami draped around a buttery, crispy potato soufflé, filled with oozy egg yolk. Absurdly delicious.

Pastrami Saul. I could have used about one thousand more drags of this stuff.

Allagash White. Green food coloring for the occasion.

Buffalo Wing. A ridiculously moist piece of chicken wing, bleu cheese mousse, braised celery, and Frank's hot sauce. Imagine the best buffalo wing you've ever had. Now sprinkle some crack.

Not Your Everyday Caprese. Just as awesome as I remember. A beautiful, skinless tomato, flavorful tomato pulp, superior versions of oyster crackers, a delicious pesto and balsamic, and creamy orbs of liquified mozzarella.

Crispy Nigiri. Shimaaji, pickled turnip, celery root purée, yuzu zest, and puffed rice. A noticeable contrast in textures, but this probably would have done better as a crudo, without the celery root purée and without the crispy rice. Voted off the island in week two.

Chipirones en su Tinta. A whole lot saltier than last time. The octopus still had a beautiful char and great texture, but the salty squid ink sauce was a little much.

Boozy sangria fruit.

Hot & Cold Foie Soup with Corn. An amazing play on textures and temperatures. The first time I had this dish, it was way too salty. This time, I wanted to bathe in an vat of this stuff. Creamy corn purée, frothy floating foie, and bits of crispy corn nuts.

Banh Mi. So. Freaking. Good. A buttery and crumbly brioche filled with wagyu beef with dashi, fried tofu, Kewpie mayo, mirin, and pickled vegetables. I mean, really, look at that beef. Imagine the best banh mi you've ever had. Now sprinkle some crack.

Linguini and Clams. My least favorite dish of the night. Dashi glass noodles, quinoa, geoduck, garlic, and a yuzu dressing. The flavors were unexpectedly bland and the floppy, gelatinous texture of everything left me a little bit confused. Voted off the island in week one.

Kurobuta Pork Belly. A surprisingly straightforward preparation of a sous vide piece of pork belly with a citric honey sauce with a side of potato purée and pickled vegetables. Imagine the best Christmas dinner you've ever had. Now sprinkle some crack.

Philly Cheesesteak. Not as good as the first time I had this. The bread was noticeably dry this time. Stale, even. The meat was also a little bit drier than I remembered. I still have fond memories of this dish though.

Japanese Baby Peaches. Holy freaking smokes. This was by far one of my favorites of the night. Pleasantly light Japanese baby peaches, silky burrata, crunchy hazelnuts, and buttery croutons. The peach flavor bombs balanced really well with the creamy burrata and the hazelnuts and croutons struck a perfect balance of nuttiness and texture.

Dragon's Breath Popcorn. More table-side service with liquid nitrogen.

Dragon's Breath Popcorn. More gimmicky than anything. Tastes like any other piece of popcorn, but was a fun way to enter the realm of dessert. I mean, what can be more fun than breathing smoke out of your nose in the middle of a fancy restaurant? Nothing.

Saam-buca. Oh man, this is one of the best desserts I've ever had. Sambuca fennel gelée with compressed strawberries, strawberry sorbet, and sweet cream. Beautifully dense strawberry flavors, refreshing sorbet, and addictively subtle gelée.

Chocolate Eucalyptus. Not as mind-blowing as the Saam-buca, but delicious. Eucalyptus ice cream, milk chocolate ganache, chocolate dust, peppermint meringue, and a chocolate tuille. The best part was the intensely refreshing eucalyptus ice cream. Imagine Molly Moon Ice Cream's thin mint ice cream times a thousand.

Sexy Little Sweets. Gumdrops: passion fruit, guava, berry, and saffron. Chocolates: Maldon dark, green tea, Maldon dark again, and white chocolate red peppercorn. Truffles: saffron, lemon ginger white chocolate, caramel, and saffron. The saffron gumdrop, green tea chocolate, and lemon ginger white chocolate truffle were my favorites.

Twenty-two courses and three-and-a-half hours later, the night ended with a certificate of gluttony. Okay, it was just a copy of the tasting menu.

There are tons of things on the regular menu that you won't find in the SAAM dining room. Here are a few of my favorites.

Jicama-Wrapped Guacamole. Creamy and flavorful guacamole wrapped up in a super-thin slice of refreshing jicama. Don't even think about trying to eat a piece in two bites. Just stick the whole thing in there.

Tortilla de Patatas "New Way". Awesome. Caramelized onions, a 63-degree egg, and potato foam. Creamy, savory, dense, and insanely delicious. I wish I could bathe in a vat of this stuff after I bathe in a vat of the Hot & Cold Foie Soup with Corn.

Cotton Candy Foie Gras. This seems a little too gimmicky for its own good, but you'll be surprised by how well two extremes of the culinary ladder go together. The cool, dense foie is a beautiful contrast in temperature and texture with the wispy and light cotton candy.

Maldon Dark Chocolate, a Financier, and a Passionfruit Marshmallow. Get the marshmallow. It's fluffy and flavorful. I'd love to buy some of these and toast them over a fire. I'd probably inadvertently set them on fire, though.

Nitro Coconut Floating Island. Looks like the light side of the Death Star.

Nitro Coconut Floating Island. The shell sits on top of caramelized bananas and a passionfruit cream and cracks open to creamy, coconut innards. Light, refreshing, and delicious.

Apples "Carlota". Apple bread pudding, vanilla ice cream, and saffron. So delicious. The warm bread has a great sponginess, cooled down by the creamy vanilla ice cream. Surprisingly simple, straightforward, and addictive.

LN2 Caipirinha. More table-side service.

LN2 Caipirinha. In the end, this tastes just like a regular caipirinha, jazzed up with edible flowers and liquid nitrogen. The texture is amazing, though. A really bright way to finish off a round of desserts.

And finally, a few more pictures of food I've already talked about.

Not Your Everyday Caprese. The normal menu size. So many mozzarella orbs and skinless tomatoes.

Not Your Everyday Caprese. Demolished.

Philly Cheesesteak. The not-so-stale-and-dry version. Look at how awesome those pieces of beef look. Imagine the best Philly cheesesteak you've ever had. Now sprinkle some crack.

Philly Cheesesteak. Innards.

Chipirones en su Tinta. The not-so-salty version. Delicious.

In the end, I have nothing bad to say about The Bazaar. Everything here starts at the very high benchmark of mind-blowing. Each dish is simply more or less mind-blowing than the last dish or the next dish. If I really had to choose a few dishes to avoid, I would probably pass on the Sea Urchin Pipirrana (way too citric), the Linguini and Clams, the Chocolate-Covered Pop Rocks (they don't pop), and the Crispy Nigiri. More often than not, however, dishes at The Bazaar push the limits of texture, flavor, comfort, and perfection. Most importantly, beyond the deliciousness of everything, if you found yourself smiling at the playful creativity of the food at The Bazaar, then I'm pretty sure José Andrés feels like he's done his job.

The Bazaar
SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills
465 S La Cienega Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(310) 246-5567

GET: Sangria; Not Your Everyday Caprese; Jicama-Wrapped Guacamole; Banh Mi; Pastrami Saul; Buffalo Wing; Tuna Handroll 2009; Chipirones en su Tinta; Hot & Cold Foie Soup with Corn; Tortilla de Patatas "New Way"; Kurobuta Pork Belly; Philly Cheesesteak; Cotton Candy Foie Gras; Japanese Baby Peaches; Saam-buca; Passionfruit Marshmallow; Green Tea Chocolate; Lemon Ginger White Chocolate Truffle; Saffron Gumdrop; Nitro Coconut Floating Island; Apples Carlota; LN2 Caipirinha.

Note: Some of these dishes are only available on the SAAM tasting menu, but if you're not in the SAAM tasting room, try ordering them off-menu. It's worth a shot!


  1. I giggled every time you used the crack refrain. Great post. Relived some amazing bites. (THOSE BABY PEACHES HAUNT ME.)

  2. Which one is better? This market or the most lovely noona package
    I'd sent to you from Shinsegye Market in here?!! hehe

    p.s: the comment that Helen'd posted was actually by me!! hehe

  3. Steph: SERIOUSLY, those baby good.....

    누난! HI! Nothing beats a package from Shinsaegae, hahaha!


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