Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Kitchen Restaurant

For my birthday this year, we ventured out to Sacramento to dine at a very unique restaurant recommended to us by our long-time friend Yunji who now calls Sacramento her home town. As its name implies, the concept of this restaurant is that, as a customer, you are invited to someone's kitchen where you can see how your foods are prepared and you can talk freely with chefs while you dine. The Kitchen Restaurant is only open for dinner and only serves 50 guests per night. All 50 guests are let in at 7pm sharp and the door is shut behind you. Then you are pretty much locked in until its close at 11pm. It sounds like a scene from a horror movie, but once you are inside you'd forget that you are "locked" in. Instead, it really feels like stepping into someone's fancy kitchen where your dinner is about to be served.

We sat at the bar. These are probably the best seats in the house because they have the best view of the kitchen and the chefs at work. Once you are seated, Noah the head chef or the "MC" of evening, starts giving you a vivid and detailed introduction to today’s menu and its ingredients. He goes into details, for instance, explaining how close the DNA of his selective Montana-raised "Kobe" beef is to its Japanese counterparts or whom he procures the wild frogs from. He would waive the live lobsters and frogs at your face or would make you gaze at his fingertips as he slices the truffles and place them on your pasta.

The dinner consisted of 7 courses (or "Acts" as they called it on their Playbill themed menu) plus an intermission where various sashimi, sushi and oysters are served buffet style. Each course is delicately prepared with the freshest ingredients and tastes original and savory. Although the portion is small, as is usually a case in fine-dining restaurants, the best part of all is that you can request for more servings until you are truly satisfied and full. The chef says if you don't like the food, you can even ask them to make you something else, but I doubt if anyone has ever done it.

We were a bit shy at first, but Min and his cousin ended up repeating their main dish and dessert twice, and Yunji and I did get double servings of our dessert vanilla ice cream with apple fries. In between courses, we were free to walk around and got to observe the restaurant operation in first hand. This is, in fact, encouraged.

It was truly an amazing and unique dining experience I have had to date. By end, we were completely full and were entertained in luxurious but friendly atmosphere by the kitchen staffs. The bill came out to be about $150 per person with corkage and we thought the experience was worth every penny. I hope to go back to the Kitchen for my next birthday.


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