Eaten, Barely Blogged: Isan, Umami, Venison
Larb Ubol Typically, one mediocre Thai meal and I’m done with a place. Yet, I still have a good feeling about Larb Ubol, despite the papaya side salad that was all lime and sugar and the crispy pork that was properly lush but lacking any heat to balance the fat. Lunch specials are never a prime showcase, so I will cut some slack, especially since there are eight different som tums, some using pickled fish and preserved crab, and ten larbs. This Isan restaurant can’t be only catering to office workers spilling over from Times Square–though they are certainly trying to cover all bases: you can have your larb made with liver or tofu.
Louro I can’t guarantee that anything pictured here will be available–at least in this exact form– because it was part of one of chef David Santos’ Monday night Nossa Mesa Supper Clubs (I was a guest, full disclosure). The theme was umami so there was lots of in-house pickling and fermenting (the walls are lined with glass jars containing many of the fruits of this labor) with standouts including thick, custardy chawanmushi with crab and aged soy sauce distilled on site, a yogurt cake with thyme ice cream that appeared to be surrounded by an intense salted caramel that was actually made from peach umeboshi, and bone marrow stuffed with a chunky blend of beef brisket and mussels and served with a kelp cracker. The next Nossa Mesa will be Octoberfest-themed.
Kristophe is the fancier venture from the owners of Krolewskie Jadlo, which means fresh stonework made to look aged and wine barrels instead
of suits of armor. There is also duck in the pierogies, chanterelles in the mushroom sauces, and a kale salad apropos of
nothing. I just had a burger, though, because that’s what I was in the mood for. It might have been wiser to have just gone traditional instead of with venison
patty covered in brie, walnuts, caramelized onions, portobello mushrooms and a chipotle cranberry relish. Too much. I just wanted the pretzel roll really.