Friday, July 9, 2010

San Francisco: Tastes of Fusion at Ame

Tony poured over reviews and enlisted the help of Chowhounders to find the best restaurants for our short visit to SF. Ame at the St. Regis hotel was one that came widely recommended based on our tastes and favourites, and thus, was our first fine dining stop in the city! Luckily, it was only a short walk from our hotel, the W, walkable even in Louboutins :) (an awesome gift thanks bridesmaids!!!).

Back to the food: Tony and I were most excited by the sashimi bar menu, and thought to do as we have in the past - just eat that list! But there were also mains that caught my eye - always the tragedy of a great menu, we cannot decide what to eat! In the end, we opted to do the Taste of Ame Sashimi Bar (which had a nibble of everything we wanted), and still had room to try other appetizers and hot mains.

The Taste of Ame Sashimi Bar included the daily crudo, served simply with olive oil and lemon; uni bruschetta, which I think had no uni taste so was a bit disappointing; tempura poke, which again was a bit disappointing because we loved having poke in Hawaii so much, it felt like the "tempura" took away from the experience; a "kaisen" sashimi salad that was quite delicious; and our favourite, cuttlefish noodles tossed with sea urchin (this dish was tasty!), quail egg, fresh roe, avocado, seaweed and some young jalapenos to give it a kick, all served in a cute little bamboo container. To go again, we would just have the cuttlefish noodles - but we were glad to have had a taste of everything.

Next we followed up with the Chawan-mushi, savoury Japanese custard. We LOVED this dish the first time we had it in Japan at a Hokkaido restaurant. The Ame version featured lobster and mushrooms...yum! In previous tastes, the "good stuff" was always hidden at the bottom of the custard - Ame's version included some lobster right on top, but also hid some of the delicious seafood and mushrooms within the large bowl....the biggest bowl of savoury custard we had had. No complaints!

We still had room for the mains, Alaskan black cod in a shiso sauce with shrimp wontons and mushrooms, and grilled liberty duck with sour cherry cabernet sauce and foie gras. While I liked the cod, we have a lot of good cod these days even in Toronto so it did not stand out to me, and the shrimp wontons were only ok - made with fresh pasta, but I did not feel like it added anything in particular to the dish. The duck was really well prepared, just perfect and with more than enough to share between us. The sauce had a nice flavour and how can you really go wrong with foie gras on top?

We still managed to have room for dessert, and had a chocolate mousse with burnt marshmallow (think s'mores!) and soy caramel. Was very unique and glad we had a chance to try it.

Overall, Ame was a good experience. We managed to "accidentally" order a whole 750mL bottle of sake, which of course we didn't finish, and they graciously let us take the rest of the bottle home :) We would go again to eat some of the favourites like the cuttlefish noodles and the custard, but as a Michelin star restaurant, we left a little bit disappointed. We feel like we've had some more elevated culinary and service experiences at less recognized restaurants in other cities.

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