May 7, 2010
When Kevin of kevinEats invited me to a food blogger/PR dinner at Nakkara last week, I was ecstatic. The opportunity to meet and mingle with Kevin and other Los Angeles food bloggers in person seemed like a fun experience. Plus, I was on vacation – what better way to relax than to eat a good meal with individuals of similar interests?
Of our party of six, I was last to arrive (I’m usually very prompt! I blame my lateness on the lack of metered parking in the area). I walked into the dining room and recognized a few familiar faces – Danny of Kung Food Panda and Diana of Diana Takes A Bite, both of whom I first met through Yelp, and Kevin and Christina of Food Je T’aime, whom I recognize from their online accounts. The last member of our party was Amy of The Roaming Belly, whom I got to know throughout the course of the night.
For this dinner, Nakkara organized a special 13-course Thai inspired meal that showcased a variety of their dishes, both on and off menu.
Nakkara Mieang Kum – Toasted coconut, cashew nut, dried shrimp, diced lime, ginger, Thai chili, red onion, mieng sauce.
We started with the light mieang kum, a lettuce wrapped bundle of coconut, cashews, dried shrimp and lime. They recommended eating it one bite; however, I just couldn’t do it (surprising, I know – I do have a pretty big mouth). Therefore, I think I was table to taste each flavor more distinctly. The bite with the tiny wedge of lime was my favorite – a sharp tart citrus to offset the pile of toasted coconut.
The next two courses – the filet mignon skewer in a green curry sauce and the garlic lamb – were particularly tasty because of the preparation of their respective proteins. A simple dish is so easily ruined by poor meat preparation, but there was nothing to worry about here – both were moist and tender.
The fourth course, a duck spring roll, was reminiscent of Peking duck, especially due to the inclusion of the hoisin sauce.
Big Surprise! – Shrimp, squid, crabmeat, coconut milk, red curry paste.
The Big Surprise had a table consensus of being one of the favorites of the night. A custom created metal serving plate from Thailand was used to serve individual sized balls of crab, shrimp and squid. The red curry and coconut milk were flavorful and helped keep the shredded crab meat moist.
We continued our 13-meal course with two soups for our 6th and 7th course. Similar in taste, the tom kha soup included coconut milk while the tom yum soup was a clear hot and sour broth. Both were typical of soups one would find at any standard Thai restaurant.
If you’ve never had green papaya salad, I would say that the one at Nakkara is a good representation of what a Thai green papaya salad should taste like. I liked the crunch of the green beans with the unripe papaya. Plus, the salad had just enough heat to get your tongue tingling but not overwhelm you with spice.
Crying Tiger – Flame grilled rib eye steak, dried chili pepper sauce.
The Crying Tiger was my other favorite dish of the night. The steak was cooked medium rare (the only way to cook a steak!) and topped with a tangy, peppery sauce. I distinctly remember the dish being served cold, although I’m not quite sure if it was supposed to be that way or if we just spent too much time photographing it.
The last four entrees of this 13-course meal came out, family style, around the same time as the Crying Tiger. The catfish was moist and flaky. The soft shell crab was paired with a rich red curry sauce. The fried rice had just enough beef and shrimp for each member of our table. The seafood pad thai was overflowing with seafood.
Mango and sweet sticky rice.
We ended our meal with mango with sweet sticky rice. Seeing that I haven’t seen many mangoes at the market (granted, I don’t go to the market all that often), I was hesitant about the ripeness of the mango. I shouldn’t have been – these were soft, juicy and sweet, without any gristle or stringiness. It was perfect with the sweet sticky rice.
As you can tell, I had a great time at my first official food blogger/PR dinner. Thanks again to Kevin for putting it together and thanks to all my fellow food bloggers for their delightful company!
November 22, 2009
Table 8 is sadly no longer with us and that’s a damn shame. It had the tastiest slab of meat I’ve ever had the opportunity to put into my mouth.
Govind Armstrong, please bring Table 8 back to Los Angeles! I miss your salt encrusted porterhouse for two. You can even have the other serving if you’d like…
Table 8 – CLOSED
7661 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90046
November 22, 2009
This was a during a happier, simpler time. A time when a nice dinner out was a still a novelty and the taste of foie gras still a luxury. A time when my stable accounting gig still gifted little bonuses for jobs well done. A time when I still had a boy by my side.
My memory of this meal is so vivid, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget it.
I first heard of Hatfield’s in September of 2007, but I didn’t have the opportunity to try it myself until the following May. I had just finished my first year in public accounting and – like I had expected – I worked hard that first year. Hard enough that, at the end of it, I got a nice little bonus to make up for those twenty-one 14-hour days I worked in a row in February and those long 8AM to 3AM days I worked in April. The boy had been working hard too – he had been studying for his CPA exams all spring – and both of us deserved a little treat.
My little bonus paid for our meal to Hatfield’s.
I can still remember the name of our waiter – not because I documented it in a review the day after – but because I’ve still never had a waiter as good as Hans. Just to give you an idea of the quality of service we received: The boy and I ordered the tasting menu and wine pairing – 7 courses for each of us (14 different dishes in all) and 6 glasses of wine. We asked for a copy of the menu to remember the meal – Hans wrote every single course down on the menu by hand. Like I said, to this day, I’ve never received service better than I did that day at Hatfield’s.
I’ll admit, Hatfield’s was my first real fine dining experience. Yes, I had been to a couple fancier restaurants before but they were typically steakhouses that focused on meat. Hatfield’s was different – the focus wasn’t meat but rather the components of the dish and how they worked together. Some dishes were average, some were amazing and one left me absolutely speechless. It was an eye opening experience. The boy and I said it was the best meal we had ever had.
I never went back to Hatfield’s after that. I was afraid that, if I went again, it wouldn’t live up to expectations so I never returned. But, I’ve always remembered the meal – This is the meal that started my love for fine dining. This is the memory that I think of when I think of a perfect meal.
Good food… Good wine… Good company… I’ll never forget it.
Hatfield’s – MOVED
(new location information)
6703 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90038