Red Medicine - Beverly Hills, CA

Dinner - Sunday, March 10, 2013

Fresh off a two-day collaboration with Alex Stupak in New York, Jordan Kahn was back in the kitchen at his restaurant on a subdued Sunday night. Our previous visit was nearly two years ago - far too long. I seem to recall Red Medicine's original menus being much more Vietnamese-inflected (indeed, the restaurant's manifesto and my own notes would agree with this) - now, it is barely recognizable as such. Not that it matters - Kahn has developed a unique style that takes advantage of an extensive global larder, with a nod to the East and some emphasis on foraged greens.

The restaurant recently introduced an official tasting menu - 6 courses of items not available on the regular menu. We opted for this, supplementing with two a la carte dishes (denoted with asterisks in the captions). Oddly, all courses were presented family-style for the table (not my favourite approach for a degustation - greed tends to rear its ugly head!)

Leeks buried under hot coals until tender
Buttermilk, leek ash oil, yuzu skins, seaside arrowgrass
Wild brook trout roe, Koshihikari rice pudding
Crushed Buddha's hand, late-season quince, crunchy sweet rice, coastal grasses and succulents
The mound of briny trout roe lay buried under the other components - a secret treasure in an edible terrarium. Taken together, they made for a brilliantly complex dish, showcasing an avalanche of textures with salty and sweet flavours at the fore (with welcome undercurrents of citrus). I particularly liked the interplay of creamy pudding with different pops from the roe, crispy rice and crunchy succulents. Invigorating - my favourite "savoury" course of the evening.

Dungeness crab
Fermented garlic paste, cooked and raw tubers, spicy leaves and herbs
The crabmeat was seasoned with an emulsion made from its shell and liver, wrapped in lettuce and grilled over binchotan. The hot parcel sat in a pool of passionfruit juice thickened with egg yolks (amazing). With the fermented garlic paste smeared around the sides of the bowl, this was an outstanding dish.

Toasted grains and cereals
Caramelized mushroom pudding with black beer, Kelley's egg yolk, duck broth
A remarkably involved plate - the grains had been stewed in brown butter and lime juice, and the broth was infused with Chinese tea leaves smoked over pine branches. For texture, roasted hazelnuts with dark English malt were added. Shaved trumpet mushrooms provided the finishing touch. And yet, it all fell a little short for me - flavours seemed muddied and too heavy, and the textures were (surprisingly) uninteresting.

**Pan-roasted sweetbreads, wild herbs
Spiced bread, chicory, prunes, smoked marrow broth**
Lamb shoulder slow-roasted with Sequoia redwood shoots
Mango, yellow roots, preserved mustard seeds, puffed yuba, wild yarrow leaves
Oh, what a sensational piece of flesh - pronounced gaminess, crispy on the outside, steaming hot and fork-tender on the inside (and quite substantial). Over the dish, our server drizzled a vivid sauce of carrot juice and turmeric oil. The combination of unripe mango, mustard, and lamb put this dish over the top for me. As much as I harp on about my dislike for large portions of meat during tasting menus, I would happily eat this over and over.

**Coconut bavarois
Coffee, condensed milk, Thai basil, peanut croquant**
A perennial dessert on the menu, and for good reason - it was as delicious as the first time we had it. Everything about this set of combinations feels right, with my favourite aspect being the bitter coffee ice cream (in a world of weak imitations) and its subjugation by the sweet cream.

Shaved ice of frozen birch sap, orange blossom bubbles
Sour red currants, roasted almond praline, Jasmine-scented crème chiboust
Like the trout roe dish before, our final course was a hidden trove waiting to be uncovered. Bubbles obscured everything from view - the birch sap ice, red currant berries and jelly, white chocolate, some crispy rice crackers for texture. We broke the praline cookie into the depths below, stirring and mixing - melding. Spectacular.

The morning after our dinner, we learnt that Jordan Kahn had been nominated for Food & Wine's "People's Best New Chef" award. Putting aside questions about eligibility (is he really new to the scene?), our meal proved that he is more than qualified. Red Medicine always seems to sail just under the radar - perhaps it is time for more recognition. To us, this is one of the most exciting places in Los Angeles, and we will not wait so long to return again.

Red Medicine
8400 Wilshire Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
Phone: (323) 651-5500