I've been hearing so much about The Bazaar and Tres by Jose Andres at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills. This weekend, I finally had a chance to experience Chef Jose Andres' vision, and I was not disappointed. The Bazaar is now my favorite restaurant, and I'm planning to go back to Tres again in December. My friend also recommended Yakitori (Japanese tapas) at Torihei in Torrance to me, so I ended up being in a foodie heaven this weekend.
THE BAZAAR BY JOSE ANDRES
To start our amazing dinner at The Bazaar, I ordered their famous Liquid Nitrogen Caipirinha. It was hard for me to take a photo of the fun process in making this drink because the lighting condition wasn't good, but the outcome was amazingly smooth and delicious!
The Bazaar serves innovative bite size Spanish tapas. We started out with these Philly Cheesesteak, but make no mistake, these are NOT your ordinary Philly cheesesteak. The beef was cooked perfectly with "air bread" underneath filled with liquid cheese. I've had real Philly Cheesesteak in Philadelphia, and I must say, these tasted better than the real Philly Cheesesteak. Amazing!
Spain is famous for cured meat, so we ordered some. They were very tasty. At one point, I felt like I was Anthony Bourdain because he recently aired a Madrid show where he sampled some savory cured meat, and I totally had an "Anthony Bourdain" moment when I bit into these.
Japanese unagi tacos wrapped in thinly sliced cucumber. Very subtle yet delicious.
Beet salad. It was refreshing and pretty to look at.
"Not your everyday Caprese" salad with cherry tomatoes and liquid mozzarella. Yes, those are NOT solid mozzarella balls; they are poached and filled with liquid cheese inside. Fun!
Watermelon and tomatoes salad. Who knew these would go so well together?!
Codfish fritters. These were so creamy inside. They were one of my favorites dishes.
We also ordered some mussels and oysters, but they were just OK.
Fresh Brussels sprouts.
Another one of my favorites of the night, chicken fritters. When I bit into these little fritters, I felt like I was eating a whole chicken pot pie. They look plain but are full of flavors! So yummy!
Perfectly cooked scallops.
This is what I really came here for - Cotton Candy Foie Gras. Yes, you heard that right. This is their most famous little dish. A cube of foie gras wrapped with cotton candy and you eat it in one bite. As you chew on the foie gras and taste it, there's the sweetness of the cotton candy melting in the back of your throat. It was AMAZING.
Julia and I ready to enjoy this delicacy.
I asked the server what was the most unusual dish (aside from the Cotton Candy Foie Gras), and she recommended this cauliflower puree with couscous, raisins, pomegranate seeds, and argula. It tasted like Moroccan food to me (which I also love).
Flavorful and tender Beef Hangar Steak.
The special dish of the night was this mushroom risotto with truffles on top. I love mushrooms and truffles and this was an excellent dish. Loved the flavors!
For desserts, we tried the Chocolate Heart which was alright to me.
But this Apricot Panna Cotta with fresh apricot slices hit the home run for me.
TRES BY JOSE ANDRES
The next day, I invited some of my closest girl friends to enjoy an afternoon tea with me at the Tres back at the SLS Hotel. The head valet parking guy remembered me from the night before. LOL! Tres is actually by the hotel lobby next door to The Bazaar. The decor was cozy and interesting.
My friend Chihiro and I checked out the restroom, and we loved the decor inside. Here's Chihiro and I taking pictures inside the restroom. We're such Asians. :D
They sat us in the back of the room with a fireplace and comfy couch and chairs. We felt like we were in somebody's dining/living room just hanging out. It was so cozy and relaxing. What a great way to spend a lazy, cloudy, and chilly afternoon.
They have an excellent selection of teas, and I went for the caffeine-free house blend fruit tea called the Nobo. It was very fragrant.
We were served with a variety of sweet and savory treats. My favorites were foie gras sandwich (they seem to like serving foie gras at this place), caviar steamed buns, beet macaroon with goat cheese, peanut butter & jelly sandwich (everybody's favorite by unanimous vote - This is not your ordinary PB&J!), hazelnut volcano cookie (everybody's second favorite - so flavorful!), financier (excellent texture), and chocolate pop rocks (like the pop candy we used to eat when we were little...they pop in your mouth. So tasty and fun!).
Everybody also got the amazing guacamole cones (no one went for the lox and bagel cones for some reason). We just wished they were a little bigger. :)
My lovely ladies and I. High school friend, college friend, MySpace friend, Facebook friend, friend of a friend, old friends, new friends, GREAT FRIENDS! Everyone wants to do this again and I'm going to organize another ladies afternoon tea in December for the holiday season. We had such a fabulous time. :)
YAKITORI AT TORIHEI
Chihiro and I hung out a little longer after the afternoon tea. She's told me about this Yakitori (Japanese tapas) place called Torihei in Torrance several times before, so we decided to go there for dinner. After I sat down, I immediately noticed how many Japanese were around me. If you're going to a Japanese restaurant where the chefs are Japanese with mostly Japanese patrons, you know it's going to be a good place to eat.
First up, braised white radish with bonito flakes on top. Subtle and delicious.
I thought these were fried tofu but they are actually cheese. Very tasty!
My favorite - chicken hearts grilled two ways. I always loved chicken hearts growing up. Great flavor and texture.
Asparagus wrapped in bacon.
Super yummy chicken meatballs.
Fried rice rolls. These are pretty traditional.
Very tasty pork belly.
Another one from my childhood favorite - beef tongue. Again, loved the flavor and texture.
Flavorful short ribs.
And finally, my absolute favorite - chicken gizzards! I loved it when my Grandma cooked Chinese-spice marinated chicken gizzards and chicken hearts when I was a little girl. These brought back wonderful memories for me. :)
As the finale, we tried their green tea mousse with red beans and ice cream, and almond tofu with fruit. They hit the spot!
I had such a wonderful time with Chihiro. We were ready to go home and crash! :)
Check out the entire photo album here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/purplejoy/sets/72157625184008138/