Monday, August 18, 2008

otom…dining in the mirror…part une

Last week I had the highly anticipated pleasure to dine at Otom restaurant. This is the latest restaurant by the famed molecular gastronomy chef, Homaro Cantu of Moto, and his partner Joseph DeVito. Otom is reflection of its popular sister restaurant Moto next door, hence the mirror moniker. Yet, after having experienced both restaurants, Otom seems to be well on her way to her own singular identity, as wonderful, but quite different from her sister that lives next door.

otom. orange.

I had heard that Otom had a delectable fare of contemporary cuisine and a touch of molecular gastronomy that keeps the diner's palate entertained and satisfied.
The Executive Chef Daryl Nash conjures delicious, elegant, artistic and surprising plates with flavors to delight all your senses. I was intrigued…

My visiting family and I arrived early for our reservation time as we came directly after the afternoon matinee of the musical Wicked at Ford Theater. We were given a very warm welcome immediately by a very personable young woman that showed us to the lounge area. The plush Paul Smith inspired striped seating, pops of a combination of sunny and cool colors and the clean loft styling was a refreshing haven on that hot August day.

Although we were quite early, the maître d' welcomed us to take our table, but we decided to order some refreshments and relax in this lovely cool contemporary lounge atmosphere as we waited for the reminder of our party to arrive. The waitress and mixologist advised us on our choices of beverages (that were endless) took our orders.

Our preferences included Voss, a sparkling artisanal water sourced from the south coast of Norway, a Syrah from New Zealand, and a very special Sunberry-Watermelon ‘mocktail’ for my sweet 13 year old niece.
One person in our party is an avid beer aficionado and was offered a special beer named ‘Nora’. This special brew has been concocted from an ancient Egyptian recipe. Unmalted kamut which was used in ancient Egyptian beers is employed. Hops, which would not have been used in Egypt, are employed in a tiny quantity, solely for their preservative power. Rather, ginger, myrrh, and orange peel are used to represent the balancing spices of ancient times. The myrrh provides the bittering that allows the brewer to mostly forgo the use of much hops.

When our libations arrived they were so lovely that I naturally had to photograph them, but first asked permission from the waitress. I told her that I was had a brand new food blog and would love to write about the restaurant, the cuisine and the chef, about whom I had heard so many positive reviews. Not only did she assent, but brought Chef Nash out to meet us.

What a wonderful treat to meet such a wildly talented as well as extremely personable man. Introductions were made and we chatted for some time about food, his culinary point of view, experience and origins, and a bit about my new baby-blog (he liked the title btw…! )
He was also kind enough to sit for a portrait for me before the dinner rush began for him.

As the remainder of our party joined us we were escorted to our table, seated with aplomb (with hooks for our purses…) and settled in to discover what tricks Chef Nash had up his sleeve to please our many varied palates.

Just minutes after we were seated, Chef Nash and our waiters presented us with the amuse bouche and explained the culinary vision for this small taste of summer.
The chef explained that was this was ‘watermelon Toro’, Toro is the belly meat of tuna, and this dish comes from the ‘belly meat; of the watermelon. I loved the conceptual thought on this presentation…

The fresh watermelon was then carbonated, sprinkled with black sesame seeds, chives, and plated on an elegant spoon on a pure white dish. Under the spoon was a delicious spiced root vegetable purée, It warm spicy flavor was a perfect contrast to the cool watermelon burst in your mouth.
This was so appealing, both in its aesthetic presentation, and that the chef used fresh ingredients, in season and then spun his culinary magic to make the simple summer staple sparkle in your mouth.
This was a wonderfully refreshing way to begin a mea and a conversation with the food at Otom on a hot summer evening.

The amuse bouche was simply elegant and elegantly simple.
I say this not for lack of words, but because it was the perfect opening with the perfect presentation to what was to come next.

Tomorrow… otom…dining in the mirror…part deux…


A Brush with Color said...

Wow--what a delightful meal it must have been! That's so gracious that the chef came out to meet you and sit for a portrait, too! Sounds fabulous, and your photos of it all are beautiful, Therese-Marie. I'm going to eagerly watch for the sequel to this post!

Camera Crazy said...

You left us hungry for more...
The daisy is such a photogenic flower and you've made it so artistic--I love it. I have an idea that Chef Nash was just a tiny bit infatuated with not only your beauty but your accent my friend.

terrie said...

Merci beaucoup Sue...
Merci mille fois, Gail...
Chef Nash was just the sweetest man and an amazing chef and artist...not sure he was

He was just a super kind and friendly person. It also seems to me that all chefs seem to love to come out of the kitchen and talk about their culinary just have to come early and stay late as they get super busy in between.

I will be working on "Otom part deux" this evening.
I was out all day for a job interview, IKEA shopping for some oriental-style lighting for my new bedroom ( have no lights in that room
I had a lovely late lunch at a local Brewery.(which will be blogged soon...)

Ashley said...

I am the hostess at Otom... and it's absolutely great to read such a review! Not only because it seems that you had a wonderful experience... but also because the blog is so well written. :0)

We really hope to see you at Otom again!