Wednesday, January 24, 2007

LK Dining Lounge (January 2007)

Two reviewers: ts and alyn
(woohoo! alyn!!)

It sounds so Chinese, "LK", but apparently, they're the initials of the owner's grandmothers, Lily & Kate. Alyn asked the server at the end of the meal. teehee.

As TS pointed out, “LK” seems so Chinese-y. Because I didn’t want this to be another one of those “unanswered questions” that would forever go down our LA annals, I really had to ask the server what the initials stood for. Turns out “LK” stands for “Lily Kate’s,” the names of the owner’s grandmothers. Would that have led the owner in a quandary coming up with the right name for her restaurant years ago? Hmm, “Lily Kate’s Lounge” doesn’t seem so elegant/classy (sounds like one of those mom-and-pop diners) as to warrant a second glance from the bon vivants. TS suggested maybe Kate Lily’s would be better, but then KL didn’t go down as “smooth” as LK. We progressed to a discussion about Lilydale’s chicken (Lilykate’s … Lilydale’s…Lilykate’s.. get it?)

However, we ARE digressing and given the factors, personally LK Lounge seems to be the better choice.

We were served tortilla chips and tomato salsa at the beginning of the meal. There was too little salsa, I felt, and for some strange reason, it had only tomatoes! Perhaps there were other ingredients, but whoever spooned the salsa into the little ramekin didn't take care to include them. It needed a tad more salt & acid also.

Ceviche cilantro-lime dressed tuna, tomato, avocado, tortilla cone
Croqueta crab-plantain fritter, red pepper criolla emulsion
Pincho chipotle-glazed chicken skewer, avocado-lime aji verde

Tried the ceviche: it was just "OK" for me. The tuna was a bit mushy; probably in the acid too long.

Croqueta. It was "OK" too. The crab flavor was a bit too subtle. Grace & I couldn't figure out where the plantain was, but it turned out to be in the form of very tiny cubes inside the fritter. They were still quite firm, which leaves me to wonder if they actually needed more cooking time. The only strong "flavor" was from the "batter". Although, to its credit, it was very pillowy and nice.

Pincho. I actually liked this best of all 3. It was fragrant and the chicken was tender. Without reading the description, I would've been very satisfied. However, this was supposed to be chipotle-glazed; I don't think I tasted much chipotle there. The dip was nice, though. Very lime-y!

All 3 were "OK", with the chicken being the best, in my taste.

I had the ceviche. I haven’t had this before so have no point of comparison. The taste reminded me of negitoro roll (of course it’s tuna!). Eaten alone, it was ok. I didn’t taste the cilantro-lime in the tuna but maybe they were only supposed to kill any “fishy” smell, or perhaps that was how it’s supposed to be. The appy came in a flute of tortilla and eaten together, you get the crunch and that hint of salt.

Tasted the croqueta from Grace’s plate – I preferred my ceviche better. Probably because I don’t like batter-coated food.

Had some pincho from Glennys’ plate – Loved it! The chicken was nicely done and the dipping sauce of avocado-lime was a nice complement to the chicken!

Crisp Serrano-Wrapped Cod
blue corn polenta, glazed baby carrots, lemon-chile butter
Orange-Coriander Roasted Duck
chipotle-yam puree, spiced green beans
Risotto Legumbre
portobello mushroom, butternut squash, shaved manchego, fresh herbs, pumpkin seed oil

Nobody had the risotto because of that "bang-buck" problem.

Tasted the cod. All the different components of the dish tasted good. Only had a "forkful" of the lemon-chile butter, so i can't recall whether it was very lemon-y or chile-y. It was definitely buttery. The blue corn polenta wasn't blue! It was just regular polenta with some blue specks in it. Although, that polenta was very good: flavorful, with a nice crust balancing the soft texture within.

I had the cod. I wasn’t dissatisfied but wasn’t really impressed with it either. It was crisp wrapped in Serrano ham but I wanted something perkier. However, I guess I shouldn’t really expect much since it did say it came with lemon butter sauce. That should’ve clued me in – nothing unpredicatable with butter sauce. I did like the polenta though. It was crispy, firm, tasted good. Only thing was it wasn’t blue as indicated in the menu!!! Sure there were dark specks in the polenta but I didn’t think (still don’t think) we got the real deal! Is it because we are on Dine-Out prices and this entrée on it’s own costs around $25~26 (did I remember right?)? ;)

Glennys’ duck was GOOD!!!! I loved it – a far-cry from the barbeque duck of Chinese restaurants! It was tasty, juicy, and tender. The skin was crispy too. I’m not really a proponent of duck because my past experiences with this fowl has been foul (hee hee) – too tough, too salty, not-much meat, too fatty. However if they made duck this way, I would be a quick convert. How good? Glennys’ quote on the dish: I wish we had some bread so we can soak up the sauce…

I had the duck. Medium rare, nicely done! The duck was very tender, the skin was nicely crisped, the seasoning was spot-on, the jus was flavorful. It was very nice!! Of course, I like green beans, so that's good. I even liked the yam. Usually I don't like yam or sweet potatoes because they tend to be too sweet for me, but this was good.

To nitpick, after re-reading the description, I'm not sure how orange-y or coriander-y the duck was. Ditto for the chipotle in the yams. I guess I like more aggressive -- or, as LK themselves put it, "BOLD" -- flavors.

But, this was still very good and satisfying.

Crema Quemada de Coco
coconut crème brulee, pineapple confit, mango coulis
Torta de Chocolate
oaxacan chocolate tart, vanilla gelato, raspberry coulis
Helado Tropical trio of homemade gelato

Of course I wouldn't get the "helado"! Teehee.

The chocolate tart was nice enough. Tasted like chocolate! =) The vanila gelato was so-so; it was a tad too airy, it seemed. I don't know what made the tart Oaxacan; not sure if there was supposed to be some sort of flavor from Oaxaca or if they just meant that the chocolate was from Oaxaca.

The crème brulee was not bad. At first I thought it was a bit “hard,” but thanks to TS who instructed me to “crack” the candy crust on the top first, I was able to savour the crème.

The gelato was ok – trio of mango, coconut, and pineapple gelato on individual ramekins.

Chocolate tart – The slice was really small – it was half the portion you get when you order a serving of pie from any restaurants. But after eating it, I think the serving was just right. The chocolate was too rich and a big slice would’ve been too much. I don’t think the vanilla gelato was the perfect pairing for this. I would’ve preferred having a lemon gelato with the chocolate. That would’ve given this dessert the proper contrast. I want more of the raspberry coulis too!

The menu outside the restaurant boasted of “bold” flavours. Browsing through their regular menu, I think this could very well be more than a claim. It would have been nice if their Dine-Out menu showcased some of these flavours, though. As it was, I think the selection we had last night was pretty tame, too safe. For me, total food experience means an overload of the senses – not just the taste, but also the visuals, the smell. The lounge was so dim that I couldn’t appreciate the colours and any contrasts they would’ve provided in the food. I had to strain my old eyes to read the menu because we only had a small votive on our table. The chairs were pretty small too – couldn’t help sitting with my legs tightly closed. Otherwise, you get those “overflow” from the chairs.. (Heehee) Other than these, service was great! Wouldn’t mind going back to try their regular menu..

All in all, this was a pretty "successful" meal. I took marks off because the flavors advertised on the menu (orange, coriander, chipotle, etc) weren't really pronounced (if there at all) and for the not-quite-there appys. Otherwise, the actual flavors of the products themselves spoke out and the dishes were executed or cooked nicely enough. So, rating is a solid 7/10.

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