Three Tales of the Foie Gras (Shunji, Animal, Hatfield’s) [Bonus Tale: Waterloo & City]

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Californa is banning foie gras starting July 1, 2012.  I’d link to articles discussing it, but nearly all of them are biased toward one viewpoint or the other.  I will not get into a debate about it on my blog.  Suffice it to say, I do eat foie gras, and I’ll leave it at that.

Anyway, I’ve been trying to hit restaurants that I haven’t been before to have their signature foie gras dishes.  These visits have served double duty as I get to have a new experience at each of these places, and I get a few last tastes of foie gras before the ban.  A week ago, I had three very different foie gras dishes at three very different restaurants.

The first restaurant, Shunji, is one that I have been to many times.  It is one of my favorite restaurants, and I dropped in on a Friday evening and ordered the Foie Gras Saikyo-Yaki [$20] after they posted a photo of it on Facebook.  Saikyo is a kind miso that is gold or yellow in color, is less salty and naturally sweeter than other varieties of miso.  Saikyo-yaki is a traditional preparation method for meats and seafood, where the protein is marinated in the miso and then grilled.

Foie Gras Saikyo-Yaki from Shunji Japanese Cuisine (© 2012 Offal Offal)

Foie Gras Saikyo-Yaki from Shunji Japanese Cuisine (© 2012 Offal Offal)

Until Shunji, I’m not sure if I’ve ever had grilled foie gras.  I’ve had it poached or in pate or terrine.  And, of course, I’ve had it seared.  I found grilled foie gras to be very different than seared, with the charcoal adding a smoky flavor, and with the char itself lending an interesting flavor and texture than the standard sear.  The inside of the foie was barely cooked, and had a sweet and pungent fattiness to it.

At Animal, I had the choice of several foie gras dishes, including their famed foie gras loco moco. Not being in the mood for spam, I opted to try the seared foie gras, topping a biscuit that was drowned in maple sausage gravy [$25].

Foie Gras, Biscuit, Maple Sausage Gravy from Animal (© 2012 Offal Offal)

Foie Gras, Biscuit, Maple Sausage Gravy from Animal (© 2012 Offal Offal)

The piece of foie from Animal was bigger and denser than the one from Shunji, and lightly scored before being seared.  The browning from the sear was perfect and added the lightest crispness to the outside of the foie.  The biscuit and maple sausage gravy gave a sweetness that contrasted well with the savoriness of the foie, and were strong partners for the intensity of foie gras.

At Hatfield’s, I ordered the only foie gras dish on the menu, seared, served with apple-rosemary “butter”, caramelized cippolini, and molasses toast [$25].

Bobo Farms Foie Gras from Hatfield's (© 2012 Offal Offal)

Bobo Farms Foie Gras from Hatfield’s (© 2012 Offal Offal)

[Pardon the darkness of the photograph; I was in low-light conditions and did not want to disturb the other patrons with a flash.  You can see better photographs of this dish at Taste with the Eyes or at BunRab.com.]

This was the largest piece of foie of the three restaurants, and had a very caramelized sear but without really crisping the outside. The consistency was fatty like at Shunji, and like at Animal (and Shunji too, come to think of it), the dish combined sweet (apple butter, cippolini onions) and savory (foie) components.

Bonus:  At Waterloo & City earlier this month, I had the smoked eel and foie gras terrine, with piccalilli, soy gastrique, and brioche.

Smoked Eel & Foie Gras Terrine from Waterloo & City (© 2012 Offal Offal)

Smoked Eel & Foie Gras Terrine from Waterloo & City (© 2012 Offal Offal)

This dish really surprised me.  I was expecting it to pack a bolder punch, but it was milder than I expected, in a good way.  The eel was lightly smoked and the soy gastrique was fortunately nothing like the thick, cloyingly sweet sauce that’s slathered on unagi in sushi restaurants everywhere.  The foie was delicately pungent and very tender.  The terrine was dotted with generous chunks of both, and the sweet-tartness of the piccalilli brought it all together.

Shunji Japanese Cuisine
12244 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90064
(310) 826-4737

Animal
435 N Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(323) 782-9225

Hatfield’s
6703 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90038
(323) 935-2977

Waterloo & City
12517 Washington Blvd
Culver City, CA 90066
(310) 391-4222

2012 June 23 by The Offalo
Categories: Foie Gras, Liver | 5 comments

  • Lori Lynn

    Hi Peter – Best wishes with your new blog. Love the name!
    Here’s a tip for photography in a dark restaurant without disturbing diners; use the light from your iphone to help illuminate the dish. Just open an app with a white background, like phone contacts, and shine it on the dish. We do it all the time, works great. Very discreet.
    And thanks for the link to Taste With The Eyes. Too bad about our California legislature, so uninformed…
    LL

    • http://offaloffal.com/ The Offalo

      Thanks for the tip. I will definitely try using the iPhone for lighting when dining with others, or when I bring a dedicated camera. When I just have my iPhone and am dining solo, I may try using the Camera+ app’s persistent flash and put a piece of tissue in front of it to soften the light.

  • Chris H.

    Peter,

    Had the foie at Shunji’s last week. Very good. I know you had the foie & biscuit from Animal during your crawl, but the terrine and loco moco are excellent choices as well. Even moreso for the other foie chacuterie at Waterloo: the foie & chicken liver and the foie with prunes are AMAZING. See if you can squeeze any of those in this week.

    • http://offaloffal.com/ The Offalo

      Thanks Chris. I tried to get into Animal last night but couldn’t before they stopped seating. Was gonna try tonight, but don’t think I’ll make it. Maybe tomorrow. Not even going to try Friday or Saturday; I’m assuming it’ll be a madhouse!

    • http://oheithere.wordpress.com/ Chris H.

      Yeah I’ve given up hope of eating foie at Animal again…unless they pull some prohibition-era tricks (not like the ban will be strongly enforced anyways). Spent way too much money this month, so I’m scrambling to think of another reasonably-priced foie meal to have before the end of the month.