Review: Ăn.

After reading the latest San Francisco Chronicle article about rising star chefs of 2017, I was obviously curious to check them out.

I came across Feastly, a website where you can browse through various pop-ups in your neighborhood, and actually found one of the chefs that was featured on the San Francisco Chronicle article. My last pop-up experience wasn’t the best (read all about it here) but I thought why not support a local chef and check out his creations. Even better was that the pop-up was being held in Oakland near my house.

At Ăn, Chef Tu David Phu pays homage to his Vietnamese roots while using modern techniques in cooking.

Amuse Bouche: Miyagi Oyster with Korean Black Pepper, Lime, and Chili (8/10).

It’s hard to go wrong with creamy briny oysters. Not much is needed, just a little seasoning and it’s delicious.

Salmon Belly Ceviche with Radish, Lemon, and Coconut Vinegar (3/10).

I really disliked this dish. First off, the salmon belly tasted extremely fishy and not fresh and a lot of the bloodline (the brown parts of salmon) was left on the meat. Second, they came around and poured a hot coconut vinegar broth on top of the ceviche and the combination of the warm dressing with the fish was off-putting.

Smoked Beef Tartare with Alliums, Mustard Seeds, and Phu Quoc Fish Sauce (8/10).

While I didn’t taste any of the smoky flavor, the beef tartare was much better than I anticipated. I liked all the crunchy pieces of various alliums and the pops from the mustard seeds. Also there was actually no salt used in this dish, just the natural saltiness from the phu quoc fish sauce used to season the tartare.

Tomato Tatin with Pineapple and Watercress (8/10).

I’m so happy that tomatoes are finally coming into season! This was basically a deconstructed tart tatin with a tomato tartare on the bottom, a cherry tomato confit on top with a pineapple sauce, and homemade puff pasty. I liked the combination of the natural sweetness of both the tomato and pineapple but also the acidity. The addition of chili pepper added a nice kick.

Shrimp Wonton with Lemongrass Consommé (7/10).

The shrimp wonton was nicely made, flavorful filling and good textured wrapper, but the consommé lacked salt.

Pagoda Rice wrapped in Lotus Leaf with Lap Xuong and Mushroom (6/10).

I didn’t eat much of this just because I’m not a fan of mushrooms but I did enjoy the lap xuong chinese sausage.

Braised Rock Cod with Potato and Chrysanthemum (7/10).

The rock cod was cooked in this rich braising liquid but the fish was slightly dry and tough. I did like the addition of the chrysanthemum though.

Beef and Seaweed with Kumiage, Oyster, and Dried Shrimp Foam (8/10).

The filet mignon was perfectly cooked and rolled in a seaweed crust which was different but I enjoyed it. On the bottom was kumiage (yuba, basically beancurd skins) which I didn’t really care for but the oyster cream on top added a nice saltiness to the meat.

Soy Silken Tofu with Ginger Syrup (6/10).

I appreciate that he made fresh tofu a la minute but I guess I just like my tofu in a savory application. I found that the ginger syrup wasn’t intense or sweet enough to make the dish a dessert in my eyes.

Petit Fours (6/10).

I can see that chef Tu David Phu is talented, passionate, and has plenty of professional experience but I felt like some of the dishes just didn’t work for me personally. Sometimes chefs get caught up in trying to create something out of the ordinary and exciting and forget that the most important thing is taste and technique. I do have to say that I didn’t feel well after this meal, my boyfriend was fine, so perhaps something just didn’t agree with me but obviously that put a damper on my experience. Overall I’d rate Ăn a 6.5-7/10.

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