>> Tuesday, January 1, 2013
After some a short absence, I was compelled to make an update based on my 2012 year end awards.
Looking back at 2012, it was the year where I truly embraced food writing. I set a torrid pace to start the year and then experienced some burn out as we neared the end. Looking back at all the photos, there's so many good dishes that I had during the year. For this year's awards, I've decided to just highlight the best dishes and assign them some arbitrary awards.
Best New Restaurant - Akinori Sushi
Best Vegatable Dish
|carrot - TBL3 @ George's California Modern|
The carrot cooked from the coffee crust grill was an amazing preparation. The carrot was prepared to actually taste similar to meat in heartiness and texture. The flavors meshed together incredibly well.
Best Ethnic Thai
|som tum muazuar - Zabb Elee (NYC)|
Best Ethnic Latin
|octopus - Mision 19 (Tijuana)|
The octopus from Mision 19 had a variety of latin flavors with incredible technical execution. Each octopus was cooked very well and had a complex range of sauces to highlight the flavors and texture of octopus. Not only was this dish the best Latin, dish but it was one of the best dishes of the year.
Best Ethnic Chinese
|famous prawn in hot wok - Lao Hunan (Chicago)|
The prawns were cooked perfectly in the hot wok and had a great balance of flavors and spice to resemble Thai food to some extent. The accompanying garnish added a lot of flavor in the form of herbs and spices to add depth to the dish.
|tonkotsu ramen - Tsujita (Los Angeles)|
The tonkotsu ramen at Tsujita packs a might flavor punch as the broth is boiled for 60 hours prior to serving. The result is an extremely thick and luxurious essence of pork flavor.
Best Ethnic Italian
|tagliolini nero - Balena (Chicago)|
The squid ink pasta from Balena was sauced perfectly and contained a great amount of flavor of both sea urchin and crab. This is pasta cooked properly
Best Ethnic Japanese
|matsutake mushroom soup - Akinori|
The matsutake mushroom soup was full of fresh seafood cooked to perfection along with a slow cooked mushroom soup. The flavor of the mushroom transferred well into the broth and was an extremely surprising and fulfilling highlight to the omakase meal.
|porchetta sandwich - Ariccia Italian Market|
The porchetta at Ariccia is amazing in flavor. Recently, the pig was changed to a local acorn-fed pork, which has imparted even more flavor into the finished porchetta product.
|tuna crisp - Flavor Del Mar|
With nothing comparable to Pizzeria Mozza, the best "pizza" I had was the tuna crisp at Flavor. The mix of the tuna with the umami crisp underneath was the perfect bite.
Best Raw Preparation
|raw beef - Totoroku|
The raw beef dishes were all amazing at Totoroku, but none were more impressive than the beef throat. The yield to serve a table of 4 requires the slaughter of 1.5 cows. The throat has an incredible balance of natural fat with a pure beef flavor. I enjoyed the raw beef throat even more than the finest toro.
Best Seafood Dish
|salad of dungeness crab - A Simple Supper with Gavin Schmidt|
The dungeness crab salad capture the pure essence of crab flavor to explode in my mouth. The accompanying spring vegetables really highlighted the sweetness of the crab dish. To top it off, there was some special preparation to the gelatinous wrap that could only be served in an underground dinner.
Biggest Surprise Dish
|chanterelle stew - George's California Modern|
I didn't eat this until there was 38 minutes left of 2012, which was the first surprise. The second surprise was the incredible unctuous texture of the dish. It was simultaneously rich, while being anchored with the earthy flavors. Each bit was also incredibly light and delightful.
|watermelon, prosciutto, love & break dancing - Evolve Explore Your Senses|
The dessert from Jeff Bonilla was not only one of the best desserts, but also nearly the best overall dish I had all year. It combined elements of the savory prosciutto to enhance the sweetness of the watermelon. Every bite was light and packed full of flavor.
Best Overall Dish
|smoked beef tongue - TBL3 @ George's California Modern|
The beef tongue in this dish had a delicious smoky flavor, but it was the brandade cream that really highlighted the dish. Each bite of this dish was a party in my mouth.
Best Overall Restaurant - George's California Modern
With another awesome TBL3 and a well executed New Years Eve, George's California Modern takes home the title of best restaurant 2012. George's raised its gastrobit rating from gigabyte to terabyte and includes a great wine list worthy of the oenobyte. Last but not least, I had an incident during my New Years Eve experience that was handled masterfully by the front of house. Another food writer commented that it was a "Michelin move," and I agree.