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.

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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

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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

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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

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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)

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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

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Mr. A’s Homemade Zuni Roast Chicken with 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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