Ludo Lefebvre is back at it yet again, this time going with the Japanese feel of his new venue Royal-T, an Akihabara fangled art space and–gorgeous maid served–cafe located in the center of the continuously restaurant booming epicenter of Culver City.
Thanks to the food enthusiast folk over at Fooddigger, a set preview dinner for a few fortunate bloggers was set to take place a day before the highly anticipated opening night of Dec. 2. An esteemed position indeed, given how he will be slinging his skills for only Fourteen day’s hereafter this event, I heard some rezziez were even being sold on ebay or something?
I myself just couldn’t wait to taste how his rendition of my families Mole would turn out and what the hell he was going to with it, after the day-long Cabral Mole Boot Camp Session, I knew he had the technique down, but knowing Ludo’s unruly approach? I had no idea…
Keeping with the Fooddigger passion for good food, good drinks and good times, the early birds were greeted with a couple of splendid liquid ice breakers, boy they smelled good!
In a matter of minutes, I was socializing around and got to see which other foodblogger homiez were around:
Caroline on Crack
Food She Thought
Kung Food Panda>
Elina Shatkin from The Los Angeles Times
Not wasting too much time, we were showed to our designated eating quarters and the French-Japanese Fusion was to shortly begin.
Before anything started, I was personally lured away by Chef Ludo into the small kitchen, actually smaller than what he had to work with over at his Breadbar series before.
And then…there it was! In all it’s sweet, rustic and frenchified glory: A black olive enhanced rendition of my Mom’s Mole. Keeping ENTIRELY old school, keeping the rustic texture, its sweet and spicy balanced dominance over only the subtlest of subtle notes of fruity olive. My mom would be proud.
Back at the table, Ludo’s significant other, Krissy, made every foodblogger realize what they really wanted for Christmas and actually got a professional food photography artificial light box. No more complaints about incandescent lighting in restaurants anymore! She said the box will be available everyday for the patrons food immortalizing pleasures.
But enough of this required ambiance stuff already, on to the food finally!
Scallop, Brown Butter, Pineapple & Black [Squid Ink] Powder
Just when I thought the natural creaminess of a good, raw scallop couldn’t get any better, its highlighted even more with the aid of the nutty, smooth brown butter and the naturally protein-tenderizing bromelaine of the pineapple. Squid ink powder was only my palates suspicion for its dull, and characterless flavor, and turned out to be true after inquiring, did not do much more other than adding a stunning visual appeal though, nonetheless, genius.
Was totallly harmonious with the accompanying white, a light and oaky ’08 Spanish Nava.
Bread Soup [and Rare, Coddled Egg] with Gruyere Marshmallow
Like shaving all the deep, dark crust off an artisan winter bread and eating it–buttered of course–in liquefied form. For the crust oriented, this will be great. The Gruyere marshmallow turned out to be fluffy and super light, not what you would expect. Best part was the hidden egg within the soup, yolk caught right before the stage of soft-boiled, a congealed, lipid induced swoon!
Foie Gras Beignet [w/ a Port Glaze], Celery Root Remoulade
Just when you think the Ludo-meister couldn’t get any more animated with his Foie Gras antics, he busts out with this, probably the premiere epicurean indulgence of L.A at the moment, elegantly brimming with two unctuous ounces of the high quality stuff. This is only my third time having the stuff, so it’s still an acquired decadence I have yet to master, yes I couldn’t finish it. Like eating duck flavored butter..
Squid, Chorizo Oil, Kimchee Puree & Red Onions
Lean squid was like a godsend after the richness assault of the previous course, Chorizo oil was everyone’s favorite, Red Onions and the Kimchee puree cleaned up our palates with their spicy zing.
Veal, Udon, Kombu Dashi, Mushrooms & Sesame Miso
This dish best captured what Ludo was going for in this edition of Ludobites, melding his incorruptible French upbringing with this venues theme. The Broth was beautiful with those caramelized onions, the Udon noodles were kept in tact, with that signature snap and slurp. Veal itself was a bit tough and stringy but that wasn’t the point here.
Wild Striped Bass, Garden Vegetables, Aioli
At this point, I’m realizing Ludo is pretty much always solid when it comes to Seafood. The Aioli picked up in richness where the fish leaves off. Vegetables were also something to go home and write about with such an elegant texture on their own.
Marinated Hanger Steak, Crunchy Escargot, [Grilled] Baby Corn, Bok Choy & Black Olive Mole
Ludo definitely had his way with it (Crispy Escargot?!) that’s for sure, demoting it to a supporting role in the plate with that meager smear of it, instead of the exuberant star, which it always is–and should be. But then again, it was a lot sweeter and unrefined. Nonetheless, it was fine for a first time attempt from a guy that’s never had it before other than the time I taught him, it’ll due Ludo, it’ll due. The grilled baby corn–husk and all–was an awesome touch, purveying that deep, sweet corn taste that fresh, handmade Tortillas deliver when one is eating it. Don’t know what the Bok Choy was doing there though?
Fourme d’ Ambert Tourte, Red Pears, Honey-Balsamic
Creamy, sweet, nutty french cheese encased between two really flaky puff pastries…need I say more? Red Pear slice finished faster than the tart. Balsamic was sweet and sour–
Chocolate Cake [w/pink peppercorns], Coconut Sorbet [soup], Caramel Coffee
Ethereally creamy and flourless-like in texture, the simple addition of crispy and spicy peppercorns is what makes this stand out, creating this stimulating feeling of wanting more! Coconut soup was nice n’ coooool.
With such experimental food, the humble and always curious Ludovic Lefebvre is the living example that not all French Chefs are snobby.
To many more infinitely progressive Ludobites and perhaps a permanent spot soon!
And thanks again to the food-serious people at Fooddigger, for making the effort to make spectacular events and dinners like these happen and finally providing a effective measure for all to reliably find out about Los Angeles restaurants.
LudoBites and Royal/T
8910 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232