Thursday, June 16, 2011


Benu is toted as "one of the 10 places worth a plane ride" according to the NY Times. So, you can imagine how surprised the staff was when J and I decided to leave mid-way through a 24 course tasting. How exactly does that happen? Let me explain.

So, while on our San Francisco pub crawl, we had decided that the Irish Times got a little rowdy. J noticed that the Occidental (this amazing cigar and scotch bar) was just a few blocks away, so we migrated there to finish the rest of the game. While en route to the cigar bar, J popped the question.

Of course, I said "yes" and we celebrated with a cigar and (many) drinks. We went back to the hotel, got a few more drinks at the bar, and got ready for our dinner.

I'm honestly surprised that we were even able to locate Benu. I'd like to openly thank Apple, the iPhone, and Google maps for helping J and I navigate ourselves to dinner that night. (Clearly, we had been drinking all day).

We arrived at Benu--the restaurant looked like a boutique. It was clean, modern, and I remember plush carpeting.

After staring at the menu for a while, I made the executive decision to have us go through the tasting menu. Partly because the uni risotto was not on the menu, and partly because, hey, I just got engaged. Let's celebrate big.

From the start, I knew that we'd be in for a culinary experience. They have a special stone to hold your utensils.

We started off with an amuse that was too pretty for words.

The next course was the quail egg with tofu, black moss, and chrysanthemum. It was delicate and flavorful.

The bread was cute--I had to take a picture of it. The next course was unbelievable. It was caviar, bone marrow, and lobster.

The salt from the briny caviar balanced well with the delicate taste of lobster and bone marrow. I was sad that this was only a few bites! I wanted more of it.

The next course was oyster, pork belly, and cabbage. This also was amazing-the texture was complex.

I was slightly obsessed with the next course. It was a black truffle dumpling. The dumpling was steamed to perfection--the wrapper was not chewy and the filling was extra tasty. Usually anything with truffle is a bit overwhelming to me, but it wasn't heavy-handed. It was actually a very balanced bite of food.

The next course was creme fraiche with a delicate cracker. I don't remember much about this course. Not that it wasn't amazing (I'm sure it was), but J and I had continued to drink throughout the meal. It certainly was pretty though.

Next up was foie gras with a yuzu foam. FOAM! I had seen foam on Top Chef (thank you, Marcel), but had never had it. It was delish. The foam was refreshing in comparison to the heavier foie gras. Delish combo.

The next course was an abalone grenobloise...aka fried fish. This was extra tasty; however, looking at the picture, I don't remember cauliflower being on the plate.

Okay, I have to be honest, I don't remember the rest of these pictures, but I did manage to write down the descriptions. Oh, and here's a picture of their fork. I was quite entertained by the number of prongs that were on the fork.

The next course was a vegetable medley in dashi broth. I remember really liking this one because of the depth of the broth.

This was the monkfish liver. Super pretty. I think we had another beer at this point, so I don't have an opinion on it.

This was our last course, but not the last course of the tasting menu. It was a shrimp roe noodle in chicken broth and tarragon.

At this point, we had been drinking all day and needed to excuse ourselves. The staff was incredibly gracious and was worried that something was wrong.

Nothing was wrong. In fact, I had just enjoyed an amazing culinary experience with my new fiance. I couldn't have been happier.

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