Eating Out, Personal, Travel

2016’s Most Memorable Dishes

It seems like 2016 was a tough year for most people, including myself. World news and politics aside, it was stormy in my own life at times. But I now find myself at the end of another year, reflecting on the many positive moments. One of my favorite memories was sitting on a pebble beach near Hualien, Taiwan, watching my fiancé and my dad walk along the water and collect pebbles.

Chishingtan Beach (七星潭), Hualien, Taiwan

2016 was also full of delicious food experiences, both new and old. I visited Japan for my first time and had not one, but three kaiseki meals in Kyoto. I highly recommend experiencing Kyoto kaiseki at least once, but definitely not three back-to-back like I did. My belief about Japanese portions being small? Definitely not true with kaiseki.

To send off 2016, here were the most memorable dishes of my year:

Most Adventurous Dish: Seared Raw Chicken – Ichimatsu (市松), Osaka, Japan

Seared Raw Chicken
Seared Raw Chicken – Ichimatsu, Osaka, Japan. Not my scene, but I did take a bite! This yakitori meal introduced the most new dishes to me and helped me appreciate using all parts of a chicken.

Most Educational Dish: Chicken Egg Sac – also from Ichimatsu (市松), Osaka, Japan

Grilled Chicken Egg Sac – Ichimatsu (市松), Osaka, Japan. Fascinating dish showing how eggs are formed in a chicken. Eggs are so common, but I never thought to think about the actual creation process!

Best Elevated Dish: Spicy Pork Sausage Rice Cakes – In Situ, San Francisco

Spicy Pork Sausage Rice Cakes – In Situ, San Francisco. Reproduction of David Chang’s dish at Momofuku Ssäm Bar, New York City. The sear and spices took this Korean staple (dok boki) and made it unforgettable.

Best Appetizer: Uni and Mochi – Kichisen, Kyoto, Japan

Uni and Mochi – Kichisen, Kyoto, Japan. Two luxuriously textured ingredients made for perfect, simple harmony. Also my favorite dish of the 14+ course meal.

Best Dessert: Paint – Alinea, Chicago

#11 - Paint - cherry, white chocolate, orange, bourbon, coffee, pistachio
Paint – Alinea, Chicago. Famously recognizable plating aside, it was also my best tasting dessert of the year.

Best Street Food: Nikuman – Nishiki Market, Kyoto, Japan

Kotohoka kyotoniku - Kyoto beef buns! So good.
Nikuman (Kyoto Style Chinese Beef Bun) – Nishiki Market, Kyoto, Japan. I grew up eating my share of buns. This was the best version I’ve tried. That beef filling!

Best Failed Dish: Homemade attempt at Hoshigaki (Dried Persimmons)

Hoshigaki Attempt – Day 1, with hachiya persimmons. This looked so promising, but I had a couple mold issues and decided to table this experiment for another (hopefully, less rainy) year. Decided against taking photos of the mold >.<

Best Dish of 2016: Mr. A’s Homemade Zuni Roast Chicken with Bread Salad – Our Engagement Picnic, Palo Alto

Mr. A’s Homemade Zuni Roast Chicken over Bread Salad

Other Memorable Honorable Mentions:

Salmon Tail, specifically the edible crispy tips – State Bird Provisions, San Francisco

salmon tail with miso-mirin marinade
Salmon Tail – State Bird Provisions, San Francisco. You break off small pieces of the tail and enjoy. Tasted like soy glazed potato chips!

The Rolling Stone – Estrella, Los Angeles

"The Rolling Stone" cut open. Yolk porn at its finest.
The Rolling Stone – Estrella, Los Angeles. Bacon wrapped avocado with baked egg center, topped with queso fresco. Instagram winner.

Waygu Cigars – Providence, Los Angeles

Amuse 6: Waygu Cigars, served with a shimeji shot
Waygu Cigars, served with a shimeji shot – Providence, Los Angeles. Presentation, creativity, flavor – this amuse was the whole package.

Burdock Root “Bark” – Mosu, San Francisco

Burdock root "bark", house-made butter, kombu, sansho berry
Burdock Root “Bark” – Mosu, San Francisco. The artistry of this was incredible. It really looked like bark, but tasted like paper dosa.

Next up is a countdown of my favorite restaurant meals of 2016. Hint: One of them had a dish mentioned on this list.

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