Hello, Delage in Oakland, California

It’s been a while since I’ve been to a nice, high-end restaurant, so I was looking forward to visiting Delage in downtown Oakland, California, a Japanese res­tau­rant with an omakase offering (more commonly referred to in the United States as a “tasting menu” or “chef’s choice”). Tragically, my camera bat­ter­y ran out after the first shot, so I took all the photographs with my phone instead, which is why the quality isn’t quite up to my regular standard.

Upon arrival, we were led in through an unsuspecting door that did not at all look like a restaurant; we were only able to identify it by the building num­ber of the address, as well as from the four other people who had arrived ahead of us and were also in attendance for the omakase. The interior of the restaurant was fairly small; there was enough seating at the bar area for six diners, as well as a table in the corner that could accommodate four ad­di­tion­al people.

As the amouse-bouche (sometimes referred to as “the free hors d’œuvre”), we were given crystal bread and smoked salmon with wasabi cream, edible flowers, microgreens, and a bamboo charcoal tuile, served atop four large pebbles.

The smoked salmon had the distinct, iconic, recognizable flavor that you’d expect of smoked salmon. I thought the wasabi cream would add a nice zest, but there was no spice to it at all, and overall, the flavor profile felt a bit dull—not much different than just getting regular cured salmon, but with the added crispy texture of the crystal bread.

The first course was a sake tataki salad with seared wild king salmon, black garlic caviar, red onion pearls, and organic mixed greens, tossed in shiro goma dressing and topped with a take-sumi cracker. The salad was adorned with pickled red onion, microgreens, edible flowers, and more organic mixed greens.

This salad was pretty disappointing.

The king salmon slices were very thin, the condition of the fish looked almost scrap-like, and the mass of the fish was about the same as what you’d ex­pect from one single slice of salmon sashimi from a regular sushi restaurant. The salmon appeared to have been cut from the flesh and not the belly, so it lacked the deep, rich, fatty flavor that you expect from high-quality salmon.

The caviar was even more under­whelm­ing, as its flavor was nearly unrecognizable through the tang of the dressing. The mixed greens weren’t actually that bad with the dressing, and it served as a pretty good appetizer, but the portion size was so small that, by the time I realized I was enjoying the veg­gies, I had already finished them.

The second course was a two-piece set of sushi wrapped in bamboo leaf.

The one on the right was avocado and edible flower, which I am surprised they even considered to be worthy of being included in a pair of sushi se­lec­tions. The one on the left was unagi (freshwater eel), but it was deskinned and did not have the iconic eel sauce, so it did not actually taste much like eel.

It seemed like the bamboo-wrapped triangles were lightly steamed, but I’m not sure if that had much of an effect; I believe the bamboo was mostly there for presentation.

The third course was when the real sushi began—it was a chef’s selection of four pieces of nigiri sushi.

The first piece was tuna, which was fairly straightforward and tasted as expected. The second piece was white snapper, which had far too much soy sauce in the rice that overwhelmed the flavor of the fish. The third piece was barracuda, which I had never had before; it had a very distinct and strong fishy taste, which I actually liked. The fourth piece was bonito, which was also fairly as expected, but also had too much soy sauce.

I’m not a chef and don’t know much about flavor storytelling, so I might be mistaken here, but I think this set of nigiri might have flowed a bit better if the bonito was the second piece (which would bump the snapper and barracuda to third and fourth, respectively).

As a palate cleanser, we received a fermented beverage (I don’t remember what kind, and couldn’t tell from the taste), topped with foam and edible gold. I didn’t have a particularly strong opinion about this; it definitely wasn’t something I’m used to drinking, but it wasn’t bad. The gold flakes didn’t seem to accomplish much more than just sticking to my upper lip.

For the fourth course, we transitioned into a fried dish—wild Alaskan black cod katsu, topped with microgreen onions and chili strings, bathing in a miso white sauce with accents of shiso oil, chili oil, and katsu sauce.

This was a nice dish, and I understood why they decided to slot in a palette cleanser right before the katsu. It was slightly too fried for my personal pref­er­ence, but it was still within a reasonable range of crispiness on the outside. The cod on the inside was soft and juicy, and the sauce supplemented the flavor of the fish well.

I couldn’t really taste the oils and katsu sauce anointed in the miso, but at least they were nice to look at and added some extra col­or.

Next up was my favorite dish of the night. We got a mini chirashi combination, one that focused on roe and sea grapes, and another that had salmon roe and sea urchin.

The bowl with the smaller roe and sea grapes had a very satisfying texture to them, and it was very fun to bite down and have many small orbs pop in your mouth. The bowl with the sea urchin and its deep, umami flavor was well-complemented by the stronger flavor of the salmon roe.

For the sixth course, we had another plate of four pieces of nigiri—this time it was toro (tuna belly), red snapper, sea bream, and sea bass.

I think this might have been my first time trying sea bream… or, if it wasn’t, it probably wasn’t very memorable, because it did not have a very distinct flavor. Unfortunately, what made it even worse was that the sea bream (as well as just all the nigiri pieces served in general) had too much soy sauce, so it “salted out” a lot of the flavor of the fish.

The seventh course was hiyokomame miso espuma soup, made from chickpea miso and mushrooms, sprinkled with shichimi pepper and topped with rice cracker bits and microgreens.

For heart health reasons, I’ve been avoiding thick and creamy foods lately that are high in saturated fat, so this soup tasted extra thick and creamy to me, simply because I wasn’t used to the texture anymore. However, I still thought it was great—it had a deep, rich flavor, and the rice cracker bits added a re­freshing crunch and pop to each spoonful of soup.

For dessert, as the eighth course, we were served amazake pudding. Amazake is a non-alcoholic fermented Japanese rice drink, rich in enzymes and pro­bi­ot­ics. The pudding was made with dairy-free cream, had assorted fruit glazed with kuromitsu, and was adorned with a pomegranate tuile.

The lack of attention to detail on the tuile was a bit disappointing to me, considering that this was supposed to be a high-end Japanese restaurant. As you can tell from the photograph, there were “stringy” parts of the tuile that were not removed to form a clean butterfly shape. That obviously doesn’t make a difference in taste or functionality, but isn’t the best sign for omakase.

Otherwise, the pudding itself was good. It wasn’t anything crazy or innovative, but the flavor was clean, the fruit was fresh, and the tuile added a nice crunch to the texture.

One different thing about this restaurant is that diners were required to pre-pay for the omakase prior to being served. This was done by scanning a QR code and processing a credit card payment on their website. I imagine this policy was implemented after they had issues with non-payment post-meal.

It’s difficult to determine how much gratuity to give for the service prior to being served at all, but I didn’t bring any cash to be able to tip the servers af­ter the meal was over. Additionally, I didn’t want an absence of gratuity on the pre-payment to negatively affect our quality of food or service. Thus, I just selected the minimum percentage gratuity amount on the payment interface, without having to manually edit and type in a custom amount.

Here is a breakdown of what my friend and I paid:

Omakase ×2  $ 250.00
Taxes and fees (10.68%)  $  26.71
Gratuity (15%)  $  37.50
Street parking  $   1.00
Total  $ 315.21

Bookings were available to begin at 5:30 PM and 8:00 PM and lasted two hours each. We selected the 5:30 PM time slot because neither of us particularly enjoy being out too late. Street parking in Oakland is $2 per hour but free after 6:00 PM, so we only ended up having to pay for half an hour’s worth.

Overall, I thought that this omakase experience was pretty underwhelming. At this price point, you generally expect to have an in­credible time. It def­i­nite­ly wasn’t bad, and I would have been pretty happy if I had paid about half of what I did, but at US$125.00 per person before taxes, fees, and gra­tu­ity, I think it’s a bit too pricey relative to the value you get.

Another big element of the omakase experience is that you are able to see your food being prepared by the chef and get an opportunity to have an in­ter­ac­tive experience. That was only loosely present at this restaurant; the chef was assembling the nigiri at the bar area in front of me, but she gave off the im­pression of being more of a regular cook, as opposed to a prestigious chef.

I have another omakase reservation coming up shortly, and I’m hoping that it’s better than this one. If money is not a problem for you, then you may con­sid­er going to this one anyway, but if you’d like to maximize value per dollar, I’m guessing that there are likely some other options in the San Fran­cis­co Bay Area that will offer a better experience.




Hello, Provision in Indianapolis

For my first stop of my continued road trip after visiting my parents, I’m visiting Indianapolis, Indiana, to which my childhood best friend (you may know him as Ed Lam or “Grainyrice”) and his mom moved not too long ago. Today is Ed’s mom’s birthday, so I treated her and Ed to dinner at Provision, a highly-rated res­tau­rant in the Ironworks Hotel.

Our meal started with a pre-appetizer while we were browsing the menus and deciding what to eat. I don’t recall what exactly was in the dish, but it was very tart and sour.

Provision in Indianapolis

For our main appetizer, we ordered and split one crab hashbrown with spinach, candied jalapeño, fried egg, and jalapeño hollandaise.

Provision in Indianapolis

For my meal, I opted for the chef’s tasting menu, a six-course dinner with a soup, four various meat dishes, and dessert.

The opening course was chilled English pea soup drizzled with crème fraîche and topped with smoked sea salt, and a side of crispy Serrano ham. Upon the first bite, the flavor was overwhelmingly peas, but after I mixed in the crème fraîche and sea salt and nibbled on the ham along with it, it had a much better taste. The blandness of the pea soup was well-complemented with the saltiness and savoriness of the ham.

Provision in Indianapolis

The next dish was hamachi (better known as Japanese amberjack or yellowtail) with Shiso oil, cucumber chutney, pickled strawberry, fried caper, to­bi­ko, and rice emulsion.

I’d say this was my least favorite dish for a few reasons. First, I’m a sushi enthusiast, and I immediately noticed that the yellowtail didn’t really taste much like yellowtail. This may tie in with the second point, which is that everything was extremely sour, probably because the strong flavor of the pickled straw­berries and capers got on the other ingredients. I’m not sure if this affected how the yellowtail tasted, but I’d say this tasted more like an extremely sour salad more than it did a fish dish.

Provision in Indianapolis

Third was lobster risotto with Fresno chile salad and lemon oil. This might have been bland for some other people, but this was perfect for my taste, and was my second favorite dish. There was lobster both in shreds and in small chunks, and the risotto had a smooth yet satisfying texture. This is also the first dish where I noticed the chef did a good job at maintaining the optimal serving temperature of the dish by heating the plate up; the top of the ri­sot­to was warm, but after digging in a bit, the innards were nice and hot.

Provision in Indianapolis

The next course was quail with sage, apple and celery root purée, and fig demi. This was my first time eating quail, and I thought it was fairly un­der­whelm­ing—it tasted mostly like turkey. The preparation was nice—it was crispy on the outside but juicy on the inside. However, I think quail just might not have the highest-quality cuts available, so it just tasted like generic meat. It wasn’t bad, but I’d say this was my second least favorite dish.

Provision in Indianapolis

Fifth in line was Japanese A5 Wagyu seared in olive oil and surrounded by pink peppercorn and sea salt. As you may have guessed, this was my favorite dish.

The Japanese use A, B, and C to grade their meat’s cutability, which represents the amount of meat taken from a carcass as calculated by a particular for­mu­la. “A” means it has higher yield than standard, “B” means it has standard yield, and “C” means it has lower yield than standard. After the letter, you’ll see a number from 1 to 5; this represents meat quality as based on things like marbling, coloring, and texture. A score of “1” is the lowest and “5” is the highest.

This dish was a perfect example of the melt-in-your-mouth quality of beef I would expect from A5 Wagyu. I accidentally overdid it with the sea salt a bit for my first bite, which I was disappointed about, but after realizing that the crystals on the side were literally pure salt, I used it in moderation for future bites, and the rest was amazing. The sear on the outside added a perfect amount of crisp to the otherwise buttery soft inside.

The waiter let me know that they usually sell this for $25 per ounce, so a standard 8-ounce steak would cost $200. The portion I received was 2.5 ounces, so I realized that the chef’s tasting menu was actually a pretty amazing deal (I’ll do an overall price breakdown at the end).

Provision in Indianapolis

The final course was dessert: ricotta donuts with maple cream, bacon crumble, banana ice cream, two cuts of strawberry, and a blackberry. This ended up being a fairly stereotypical dessert dish. The main thing I liked about it was that it wasn’t overwhelmingly sweet, and the banana ice cream had a unique taste profile where it tasted like vanilla first, but once you leave it in your mouth for a few seconds, the banana flavor emerges.

Provision in Indianapolis

Instead of the full-blown chef’s tasting menu, Ed’s mom opted for a “miniature” version of it, called the Devour Summerfest. Apparently this is a thing in which over 100 restaurants participate by offering value-priced three-course meals.

Her first dish was an appetizer, for which she picked shrimp and chicken gyoza with pineapple ponzu, spicy sauce, and pickled Fresno. I tried a small piece of the edge of one of them, and it tasted like fairly generic fried dumplings.

Provision in Indianapolis

For her main course, she got salmon with plantain curry, cucumber, pickled onion, harissa raita, and lentil.

Provision in Indianapolis

Ed was probably extremely bored the entire time, because, while I got a six-course meal and his mom had a three-course meal, he just got a normal menu item. He had the short rib with herb spaetzle, asparagus, corn, fennel, potato, and smoked onion demi.

Provision in Indianapolis

And finally, for Ed’s mom’s dessert, she got a cheesecake with cherry preserves and pistachio. Usually when you make a reservation to a high-end res­tau­rant, they’ll ask you whether you’re just visiting for a regular meal, or if there is a special occasion; I marked down that it was her birthday, so they turned her cheesecake into a miniature birthday cake.

Provision in Indianapolis

Ed also had dessert—an Indiana sugar cream pie with a candied orange slice and Turkish coffee ice cream. Unfortunately, I only took one photo of his des­sert, and it ended up out of focus, so I don’t have a picture to share.

Here is the breakdown of what I paid:

Chef’s tasting menu  $  95.00
Devour Summerfest  $  40.00
Short rib  $  38.00
Indiana sugar cream pie  $  10.00
Soft drink  $   2.75
Occasion dessert discount –$  10.00
Taxes (9%)  $  17.62
Gratuity (20%)  $  42.67
Total  $ 256.04

I thought this was a great deal. I recently went to Nonesuch in Oklahoma City, a similar tasting menu restaurant, which cost just shy of $440 for two peo­ple. Although Nonesuch had 11 courses while Provision only had 6, the portion sizes at Provision were proportionally larger. Although Nonesuch was much better at food presentation, I think I would say that the taste was better at Provision, and to me, that’s the more important part.

The waiter comped Ed’s mom’s dessert for her birthday, so we ended up getting a $10 discount.

I enjoyed my meal, and Ed’s mom appeared to have had a good time as well, so I’d say this was overall a good dinner. If you’re ever in the northeast In­di­an­apolis suburbs and this restaurant is within your price range for a meal, I’d definitely recommend giving it a visit.




Hello, Saint & Second in Long Beach, CA

Things have been a bit busy since I arrived at Long Beach a few days ago, but earlier today, we finally had an opportunity to get most of our staff together and enjoy a team dinner. Unfortunately, California is lagging noticeably behind nationwide CDC guidance on COVID-19 response, so we still had to split our group up into two smaller parties in order to comply with state and local ordinances, but it was still a good meal.

We went to Saint & Second, an American restaurant on 2nd Street in Long Beach.

Saint & Second

Saint & Second

To start, we got a dozen West Coast oysters with a side of white balsamic mignonette, cocktail sauce, and lime. My table had four people including my­self, so we each got three oysters.

West Coast oyster

For our main courses, our Producer opted for Skuna Bay salmon with basil brown butter, hazelnuts, green beans, and crème fraîche mash.

Skuna Bay salmon

Our Director of Post-Production went with natural filet mignon with fennel purée, kamut, and rainbow carrots, accompanied with some port wine sauce.

Natural filet mignon

Our Creative Director ordered oxtail gnocchi with prosciutto and brown butter, roasted mushrooms, arugula, and burrata.

Oxtail gnocchi

And finally, for my dish, I got bison short rib with carrot mash, spring onion, peas, and bison jus.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t a fan of my selection. I’m not sure if this is because I just had some of the best melt-in-your-mouth barbecue ribs in Oklahoma not even a month ago and now everything else tastes lacking, but the bison ribs seemed fairly underwhelming. The outside of the cut was overcharred, and the bit­terness of the burnt meat overwhelmed the flavor of the actual bison.

For my beverage, I had a glass of house blueberry lemonade. It was a lot more sour than I expected, but I guess that’s technically a good thing, because that means there was less sugar and more fruit. That also ended up being helpful later on, because the sourness of my drink pierced through some of the bit­terness of the burnt bison. The lemonade came with free refills, but I only managed to down two glasses because of its tartness.

I also ordered a side of truffled thin fries with blue cheese sauce and truffle oil. The fries were sauced unevenly, but apart from that, they were fair­ly straight­forward and satisfying.

Bison short rib

My co-workers at my table ordered alcohol, and there was also an entire second table, so I’m not going to do a full cost breakdown like usual, but here are the pricepoints of the aforementioned items:

West Coast oysters ×12 $  39.00
Skuna Bay salmon $  28.00
Natural filet mignon $  42.00
Oxtail gnocchi $  23.00
Bison short rib $  33.00
Truffled thin fries $   9.00
House blueberry lemonade $   5.00

Our Director of Post-Production seemed to be of the opinion that this restaurant had high-end food, and online reviews for Saint & Second are generally positive, so I think I might have just gotten a little bit unlucky with my choice of dish (or rather, just the way it was prepared).

I selected bison because it seemed like a good balance between “interesting” and “something I’ll probably like,” but I suspect I probably would have en­joyed my meal better if I had just gotten a regular signature burger. Also potentially relevant is the fact that I didn’t get much sleep last night and had been micro-napping throughout the day, so my senses might have been a bit dull.

Overall, this isn’t a place where I would be dying to come back to for a second meal, but the experience wasn’t bad either. If you’re in Long Beach and want to check out some different restaurants, I’d say this place is definitely worth adding to your list of considerations.




Hello, Vast at the Devon Energy Center in Oklahoma City

For my final adventure before flying out of Oklahoma City, I ate at Vast, a restaurant on the 49th and 50th floors of the Devon Energy Center in down­town Oklahoma City. The premise of this restaurant is similar to the Top of the World at the Stratosphere in Las Vegas where you sit atop the city with a vast view while you eat your food (though the main difference is that Vast does not rotate).

With construction starting in 2009 and completing in 2012, the Devon Energy Center stands 844 feet (257 meters) as the tallest building in Oklahoma. It towers over the second-tallest building in Oklahoma City, which is the BancFirst Tower at 500 feet (152 meters). Vast is on the highest two floors of the Devon Energy Center, rising to 726 feet (221 meters) in elevation.

Vast at the Devon Energy Center in Oklahoma City

We intentionally went on a weekday so we could avoid all the people going on dates over the weekend. Downtown was fairly peaceful around din­ner­time, and parking was easy—there was a structure next door to the tower with spaces large enough to easily fit my full-size pickup truck, and the fee was only $5.

After a quick walk into the building (which had very modern aesthetics with lots of glass and marble), we took a dedicated elevator straight up to the 49th floor. We went at 7:30 PM as to time it such that we would get about an hour of daytime view, then the sun would set and we would have a night­time view for the second half of our meal. We didn’t see much of the inside of the restaurant because we were seated somewhat close to the en­trance, but the bar area nearby looked nice without going too overboard.

Vast at the Devon Energy Center in Oklahoma City

The first dish was on the chef, and was something with crab inside. We also got some rolls with butter to munch on while we were deciding on what to or­der for our main courses. The fried crab dish was great; it was greasy enough that it oiled my fingers when I picked it up, but it didn’t leave any un­pleas­ant or greasy aftertastes.

Vast at the Devon Energy Center in Oklahoma City

For her main course, my dinner companion got some herb marinated chicken with root vegetable hash, roasted mushroom puree, fennel, pistachios, and ba­con lardons. I tried a portion of her chicken and it was actually impressively tasty with great texture—the outside skin was very crispy, while the meat was juicy and moist.

Her drink (which I did not get a photograph of) was the 726 Cosmo, an alcoholic drink off the Vast Classics beverage menu containing Charbay blood orange vodka, triple sec, Greenbar hibiscus liqueur, cranberry, and lime.

Vast at the Devon Energy Center in Oklahoma City

For my main course, I decided to go with a feature dish (which wasn’t on the main menu, so I can’t reference back to the online menu to see precisely what was in it). It was called the Surf and Turf, and was basically a medley of small servings of various different dishes they offer. It included 6 ounces of Creekstone filet, shrimp, scallop, asparagus, potato, and something a bit stringy and slightly crunchy that I couldn’t identify.

Vast at the Devon Energy Center in Oklahoma City

For dessert, we had a warm chocolate lava cake with peanut butter caramel, candied peanuts, and mascarpone ice cream. At first it was a little bit o­ver­whelm­ingly sweet, but once my mouth adjusted to all the sugar, it was actually really good. I’m also a big fan of caramel and nuts, so the sauce that came with the cake was extra tasty.

Vast at the Devon Energy Center in Oklahoma City

I was slightly concerned about this restaurant because, for some reason, people kept leaving reviews saying that this restaurant wasn’t worth the money, and that you were basically just paying for the view. But, after I finished my meal, I thought all the food was great, and I thought the price was also very rea­son­a­ble, considering we were eating at a restaurant over 700 feet in the air in the tallest building in the entire state.

Herb Marinated Chicken $  32.00
Surf and Turf $  70.00
726 Cosmo $  13.00
Chocolate Lava Cake $   9.00
Taxes $  12.46
Tip $  40.00
Self Parking $   5.00
Total $ 181.46

The tip that I left was a bit aggressive, but the main reason I tipped over 30% was because I left a note in our reservation stating that I would “pay/tip more for a window seat.”

In case you’re not familiar with how these kinds of restaurants work, there are a lot of tables set up across the entire res­tau­rant floor, but only a few of them are window-side. I don’t know what the rest of the restaurant was like, but the table we got seemed to be the only one left in that area of the res­tau­rant, so I gave them the benefit of the doubt, assumed that they had actually saved the window-side table for us as per our request in the res­er­va­tion, and gave them a generous tip.

This is a restaurant that I think is absolutely worth it for the money… but not necessarily for dinner. Vast has a lunch option that, today, is a flat fee of $22.50 per person for what appears to be a buffet-style meal that also includes unlimited dessert. Considering the quality of food for dinner, if lunch is any­thing close to that, I think $22.50 is absolutely worth it. That might be a bit pricey for Oklahoman standards, but if such a place existed in Las Vegas where I would have a nearly never-ending view while having an all-you-can-eat meal, I would be going there very frequently.




Hello, Nonesuch in Oklahoma City

When I go to a new city, I like to try the best and the most unique things the city has to offer. Oklahoma City is home to Nonesuch, a twenty-seat tast­ing menu restaurant that won an award in 2018 for best new restaurant in the United States by Bon Appétit. Naturally, it was my top pick to try out while I was in Oklahoma City, so I went there for dinner tonight.

Unfortunately, the lighting was a bit dim so my camera had difficulty focusing and a lot of my photos came out blurry, but I still managed to get a hand­ful of good shots. I feel like this restaurant is about the presentation as much as it is about the actual food, so some of these photos might not do justice for some of the dishes.

The first course was smoked borscht. The staff would explain each dish in much greater detail than just the name, but they would list off like 25 in­gre­di­ents, so it was difficult to remember exactly what each dish was made out of. What I do recall about the borscht was that it had bison, and it had a very deep and rich taste to it.

Nonesuch in Oklahoma City

The second course was catfish tart. It was far more than catfish tart, though—there was a bit of catfish at the bottom, but had a ton of extra flavors packed into it. I vaguely remember the staff telling me that the shell was actually made with something along the lines of kimchi. I actually ended up having two of these, for a fairly interesting reason…

My dinner companion caught and recovered from COVID-19 back in January 2021, but she still has persisting loss of taste and smell, several months later. Although some of it has come back, some foods still taste off for her. Apparently something in the catfish tart made it taste bad for her, so I had her portion.

Nonesuch in Oklahoma City

Each course had a beverage to go along with it. My dinner companion had the reserve wine pairing, while I had the non-alcoholic pairing.

The non-alcoholic beverage to go along with the first two courses was cu­cum­ber honeysuckle shrub. I’m not the biggest fan of cu­cum­ber, but the cu­cum­ber was a bit more subtle in this beverage, so I still enjoyed it. The beverage to go along with the next two courses was strawberry and tomato. This had a slightly more vis­cous texture (presumably because of the tomato), and was slightly sweeter. Overall, the drinks were definitely made with an intent to com­ple­ment the meal, rather than being standalone drinks.

Nonesuch in Oklahoma City

Course three was asparagus with onion jam. Although this was very simple and straightforward, this was actually one of my favorite dishes, second only to one of the sweet courses later on.

Nonesuch in Oklahoma City

The fourth course was a Spanish tortilla with rillette and blackened fruit. This dish seemed a bit plain at first, but this was my kind of food—I personally like foods that are only lightly seasoned so the true, deep taste of the actual ingredients can come out. The sauce went along great with the tortilla, and the greens provided just enough zest as to add an interesting flavor but not overwhelm the dish.

Nonesuch in Oklahoma City

Course five was fava beans with chicken demi and white wine grapes. This dish literally made me feel like I was a rabbit eating straight out of my moth­er’s garden. The beans were beans, and the flowers had a fragrance that you’d expect from flowers.

Course six was potato with beurre blanc, which I don’t have a photo of because it was deep inside a bowl and the photo ended up blurry, but definitely tasty—the dish managed to capture both the crispy and soft aspect of potato at the same time. The potato came topped with a bit of caviar, but I could barely distinguish the taste of the caviar due to the liberal amount of sauce added to the potato.

The beverage pairing with these two courses was blueberry and sage.

Nonesuch in Oklahoma City

The seventh course was focaccia and butter. This was one of my dinner companion’s favorite dishes, because the bread had a nice texture to it, and with diminished taste, texture becomes much more important in food. I also liked this, and would probably rate it third right after the asparagus. The edges were nice and crispy, while the inside was moist, soft, and spongy.

The eighth course, which is not pictured, was bison with smoked cheddar and pickles. This came out as a small lump of meat covered in cheese, so the photo doesn’t look very interesting, and it didn’t occur to me until after I finished it that I should have probably cut it in half and opened it up to photo­graph it. The meat was cooked medium rare and was very tender and juicy. This probably would’ve been my second or third favorite dish had it not been for the fact that I eat so much high-quality meat that I’m somewhat desensitized to great steak.

The beverage pairing with these two courses was beet hibiscus.

Nonesuch in Oklahoma City

The bison was the final savory dish, and the ninth course was the transitional course from savory to sweet. This also ended up being my favorite dish—it was ginger mint tea with canneles. I find it silly that this somehow ended up being my favorite course, because there were so many other far more intricately-prepared dishes, and this one was so simple. Yet, I think that might have been why I liked it so much—it was some tea that wasn’t too sweet and wasn’t too plain, along with a nice pastry that also wasn’t too sweet and wasn’t too plain.

Nonesuch in Oklahoma City

The final two courses were dessert. Course ten was sorrel ice cream with milk jam. I actually forgot to photograph this prior to taking my first bite, so I left the spoon in so it wouldn’t look weird and have a chunk missing. The actual ice cream was fairly plain, but with the jam, it was the perfect amount of sweet. There were also some greens and flower petals, which, when mixed in with each bite of ice cream, gave a much more interesting texture to the dessert.

Nonesuch in Oklahoma City

And last but not least, the eleventh course was Madeira ice cream with pecan florentine. This tasted pretty much like normal rich, specialty ice cream, but with no greasy or fatty aftertaste. It was served in an edible cone atop an inedible bed of pecan shells. The beverage pairing for the final two dessert courses was spiced Thai tea port, which was unsweetened as to not interfere with the sweetness of the desserts.

Nonesuch in Oklahoma City

I had a great experience and am happy with my restaurant selection, but I think this restaurant is sort of a one-time-visit kind of place. That’s one of the issues of restaurants that base their service heavily on the presentation and experience—the experience becomes less novel the second time around, and you get less value for your money because of it.

I think if I was ever in Oklahoma City again with someone very special and I wanted to treat them to the experience, and several months had passed since my last visit so the restaurant changed up all their courses, then I would visit again. However, if it wasn’t for those two prerequisites, I personally would much rather go to a place that is known for great-tasting food and large portion sizes.

One reason I say this is because of the price. I had originally thought the price listed on the website of US$110 per person was all-inclusive, but after go­ing through the booking process and pre-paying for the reservation, I realized that absolutely wasn’t the case. Here’s a breakdown of what we paid:

Eleven-course tasting menu ×2 $ 220.00
Reserve wine pairing $  80.00
Non-alcoholic beverage pairing $  45.00
Mountain Valley sparkling water (1 quart) $   8.00
Service charge (15%) $  52.95
Taxes (8.375%) $  34.00
Total $ 439.95

A few things to note is that the service charge is basically a gratuity, as the staff does not accept tips. Also, this final total price was not a surprise; None­such requires you to pre-pay for your reservation, so you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into, and you have plenty of time to back out of the reservation after seeing the total price (i.e., there are no surprises after you arrive at the restaurant).

Overall, if this price point is something that is manageable for you and you’ve never been to None­such before, then I’d definitely recommend it.




Hello, Morimoto at MGM Grand in Las Vegas

As a Las Vegas local, I don’t frequent the Strip (even though I literally live directly on the Strip in a high-rise condo, and have been for over two years now). I haven’t been to all the hotels and casinos, and even for the ones that I have visited, I often don’t remember each one precisely off the top of my head. So, usually when I go to a hotel or casino, it ends up being an adventure.

Today’s dinner ended up being an adventure, as we went to Morimoto at the MGM Grand. Morimoto is named after Japanese chef Masaharu Morimoto, best known for his appearance on the Japanese cooking television show Iron Chef. Today, he has 13 restaurants spread across the United States, Mexico, Japan, India, and Qatar.

The environment of the Las Vegas location was pleasant, and it didn’t overimpose a particular vibe; it had nice Japanese touches while maintaining a core feel of being a unique but straightforward restaurant. Today is Thursday, and we’re in the tail end of a pandemic, so the restaurant wasn’t very busy, but I feel like this is one of those places where a high amount of bustling clientele would enhance the mood.


First up was the toro tartare. “Toro” is the Japanese term for tuna belly, the fatty part of the tuna fish. It was spread out as a thin sheet on a ceramic plate topped with some sturgeon caviar, and we were provided with a spatula-like scraping tool to remove the toro from the dish. It came with six condiments: nori paste, wasabi, sour cream, chopped chives, guacamole, and what I believe was just toasted rice cracker balls. It also came with soy sauce on the side.

I thought this was fairly underwhelming, both in taste and in portion size. The fish was nice, but honestly, my favorite part of the dish was actually the nori paste. At US$29, I would’ve much rather just ordered some regular tuna belly sushi.

Toro tartare

Next up were market oysters. The oysters were tiny—about half the size of regular oysters you’d expect from a restaurant. They definitely tasted good though, and something I found very interesting about them was that they tasted much cleaner than usual. Usually, you’ll get at least a little bit of crunch from your oysters, but these almost seemed like they had been pre-shucked and purified, then replaced back into their shell. Half a dozen came in at US$24.

Market oysters

Our third dish was something a lot more simple: tuna pizza. It resembled a crunchy, hard-shell pizza, but instead of the tomato sauce, it was replaced with tuna. Toppings included red onions, tomatoes, olives, jalapeños, and something green that we for the life of us couldn’t figure out what it was, drizzled with some anchovy aïoli.

My impression of the dish was that it was extremely overwhelming in flavor. All the toppings—especially the raw red onions and olives—were fairly pun­gent and had piercing flavors, and it overwhelmed the taste of the tuna. After eating my share of two slices of the pizza, I felt as if, had the tuna been entirely missing, I probably wouldn’t have even noticed. The tuna pizza cost US$25.

Tuna pizza

Our only hot dish was next: kakuni. Literally translating from Japanese as “square simmered,” our kakuni was a square of ten-hour pork belly atop some rice congee, driz­zled with soy scallion sauce. The pork belly was extremely salty and had a very strong flavor, but after mixing it in and eating it along with the rice congee, the saltiness was diluted a bit, which allowed the richness of the meat to come through. This was US$21.


With three cold appetizers and one hot appetizer out of the way, it was time for the main dish. Considering that this is a famous restaurant under the brand name of a famous chef, we figured that we would do a “chef’s choice” dish, so we ordered the chef’s sashimi combination. It was a 20-piece dish for US$110, so each cut came in at $5.50. The sashimi assortment had salmon, tuna, tuna belly, octopus, mackerel, flounder, scallop, and yellowtail, along with what I think might have been abalone.

As you can probably tell from the photo, needless to say, this dish was extremely underwhelming. No matter how nice the restaurant, there is no way that I can say each bite of fish was worth $5.50. Some of the sashimi cuts were unexpectedly thin. The sashimi was definitely high-quality fish… but it was nothing more than just high-quality fish. I wouldn’t say that any of this would particularly qualify as specialty fish that would warrant such a high price tag.

Chef's sashimi combination

We went to this restaurant as a group of three, and with the very small portion sizes, my companions weren’t yet satisfied, and I was personally just bare­ly getting started. So, we decided to give the chef another chance and ordered the chef’s sushi combination. At US$100, it was slightly cheaper than the sashimi com­bo.

This ended up being a far, far better selection. The rice was obviously much more filling than the fish, but the balance of rice and fish was good enough such that I feel like the fish quantity might’ve been just as much as the sashimi combo, so it’s as if we paid $10 less and got free rice to go along with all the fish. This was also a 20-piece dish, but it appears like each piece of nigiri counted as one piece and each set of six-piece cut roll counted as one piece.

The combo came with eel, shrimp, mackerel, salmon, squid, tuna belly, yellowtail, and tuna nigiri. There were two pieces of nigiri that I had trouble iden­ti­fying, but I’m thinking it might have been parrotfish. The two cut rolls we received were tuna and shrimp tempura.

Chef's sushi combination

As I’ve mentioned throughout the whole review, the prices were pretty steep. But, apart from the tragedy that was my roommate forgetting to bring her ID with her and not being able to enjoy some alcohol, I’d say the overall experience was pretty nice.

I think that, as a local, I was particularly critical of this restaurant because I know that there are plenty of restaurants across the Las Vegas Valley that will reach 95%+ of this quality and presentation for about 40% of the price. But, if you’re a tourist coming to Las Vegas and want to experience eating a meal at a Morimoto restaurant for a special event, or even just to treat yourself, I think that it could be reasonable.