Monday, June 24, 2013

The 5 Course Tasting Menu at Annisa

A few of us got together at Annisa to celebrate Thanan.  Nothing specific.  Just him (because apparently that's reason enough).

I helped pick Annisa because I am obsessed with the ferocity of Anita Lo from Chopped and Top Chef.  Mean-muggin' female chefs just have to be good right?

We opted for the 5 course tasting ($78) which began with butter curls that were so soft and perfectly smearable on their cold, crusty bread.  I ran out of bread, else I woulda devoured every single piece of butter.

The amuse was an egg salad and fish roe tartlet offering a quick pop of fishy, eggy crunch.

First course.  The black sea bass sashimi with trout roe had these beautifully juicy yuzu pearls that tasted like popping boba, but much better. The sashimi was fresh and slippery.

Second course.  Seared foie gras with soup dumpling and jicama.  If only words could truly describe the utter bliss that emerged in our mouths with the initial bite of this savory splendor.

Thanan told us we had to just pop the whole thing in our mouths to enjoy all at once, but I regretted it immediately.  As small as this was, it would've been nice to savor it more than the 30 seconds it took me to eat it, and marvel at the taste of the rich duckulence and the crunch of fresh jicama.  We all wanted dozens more.  Okay, that's a lie.  We wanted hundreds. By the steamer baskets !

Third course.  Grilled mahi mahi with avocado, opal basil and pickled rhubarb.  I had no idea this was called opal basil, because my mother used to make us this eyeball drink all the time, but it's fun squish in a savory dish. Besides the eyes, the pickled rhubarb added a nice bit of acidity to the pretty plain fish.

Fourth dish.  Grilled mangalitsa pork ribeye nestled on a yumsome little sauce, a dry potato salad, dandelion greens and a tiny bit of crispy pork ear.

Thanan and Harry echoed my sentiments on the pork - it tasted like home with its Asian marinade.  The pig ear melted gloriously in my mouth.

While most tasting experiences I've had included a choice of dessert, they surprised us with nearly one of every dessert on the menu:

The surprise favorite for me was the strawberry and tofu pudding.  It was so fruity and bright, creamy, with a surprise crunch that just came out of nowhere. "What is that crunch?"  No clue.  Let's just keep eating it though and not ask too many questions.

We received two of the bread and butter pudding with a sunny little Meyer lemon curd.  Thanan and Peter liked it best, though the bread pudding was a bit eggier than I prefer, but honestly, I could sop up that curd with anything.

The selection of chocolate and malted desserts was fun - moist chocolate cake, creamy mousse, a crunchy malted cookie that was my favorite, and crunchy chocolate nibs floating in chocolate milk.

The "tower" of caramelized banana, peanut butter and coconut foam sounded exactly up my alley, but it was my least favorite - the flavors didn't meld well.

The pecan and salted butterscotch beignets were hot little bundles, oozing heaven into my happy stomach.  (The bourbon milk ice was not too distinctive.)

This is definitely something I can get hot and heavy with. Ha. (Gross.)

Then with the check, a little surprise of cute baby coconut lychee popsicles made with toothpicks, candied ginger, and mint chocolate truffles.

Of the tasting menus I've had in New York, I would say Annisa is good but not great.  There was nothing wrong with each dish, but neither was there anything particularly astounding aside from those foie gras dumplings and that strawberry tofu pudding that has really made me reconsider my disposition towards tofu in desserts.  The place is small, intimate, and friendly, but offers pretty standard-tasting fare at its price point.

Han's Nonsensical Rating: Skip the tasting and just order multiple plates of the foie gras dumplings.  And the strawberry tofu dessert if you're lucky enough to see it.

13 Barrow St
New York, NY
Annisa on Urbanspoon

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