Yu Bo Sichuan Style Banquet Dinner (Impressions added to certain courses)

#1

Given Yu Bo’s fame in China, I came in with high expectations but walked away with mixed feelings. Yu Bo’s technique, knife skills, presentation, and the sheer uniqueness of the meal are all very impressive and admirable. His manipulation of flavors is also top notch whether it’s balancing heat with just the right amount of sweetness or coaxing subtle flavor and variety of textures out of ordinary ingredients with labor intensive work. However, I walked away this meal not craving most of the dishes since most of the complex flavors are almost too subtle to this palate. Time and again, I wish the flavors would be much more bold.

I wonder if Yu Bo’s playing safe and showing too much restraint in cooking for this crowd?

Highlights:

  • tomato with tangerine peel
  • drunken ginkgo nuts with fermented glutinous rice wine
  • strange flavored walnut
  • firefly squid
  • fish fragrant shrimp
  • cod with pickled mustard greens and rice noodles
  • smoky spicy cold noodle with hokkaido uni
  • aloe vera with lemon


16 shared appetizers to start


silk bobbin long beans


spiced lotus root


snow white coral rolls


sparrow’s wing broccoli


woodear mushrooms with chopped salted chillies


fuzzy melon with garlic


auspicious ruyi sceptre celtuce


tomato with tangerine peel - highlight


chayote with sichuan pepper oil


jade hairpins flowering chives
The way it’s braided really added to the texture.


chrysanthumum - shaped capsicum pepper


bitter melon with litsea oil


chinese yam in sichuan pepper sauce


drunken ginkgo nuts with fermented glutinous rice wine - highlight
Plesantly chewy ginkgo nut is infused with intense sweet wine fragrance.


spinach in ginger sauce


five-spiced firm tofu


Sweet tomato sauce for the upcoming course


calligraphy brush pastries stuffed with beef
The puff(?) pastry is a little thick and dry and lacking the layers that I expect. It would be nice if the savory beef filling has a little more texture rather than just a paste.


strange flavored walnut - highlight
The sweetness perfectly offset-ed its complex spiciness.


sweet & sour jerusalem artichoke


firefly squid - highlight
Perfectly cooked firefly squid paired very well with its sweet and spicy sauce that has a horseradish-like kick. Also, I love the flavor and bursting of the firefly squid guts when I bite into it!


mapo tofu with fresh abalone and avocado
The fresh abalone’s a little chewy but I’m guessing that Yu Bo’s looking for that texture contrast to stand against the soft tofu and creamy avocado. This dish definitely gives out that signature mala-numbing sensation but it’s not over the top like other Sichuan establishments.


pork dumplings with cabbage stem skin
Another technique showcase item here. Rather than having chopped cabbage in the filling which is a classic element in this dumpling, Yu Bo slices cabbage paper thin and uses them as dumpling wrappers . Impressive!


fish fragrant shrimp - highlight
Crispy and well fried shrimp topped with a tangy sauce cooked down from ginger, garlic, and scallion. What’s not to like?


japanese wagyu beef with sichuanese spices


cod with pickled mustard greens and rice noodles - highlight
This perfectly simmered cod flakes beautifully. Underneath the soft fish sits a piquant broth and a pile of unusually toothsome rice noodles and pickled mustard greens that gives excellent texture contrast.


hedgehog bun stuffed with red bean paste
This is gorgeous! Heck, it’s on another galaxy in its appearance compared to the one I had at the 3 Michelin Starred The 8 Restaurant. But by the time I took a bite, the texture of the bun is already a little dry since it’s served alongside the cod dish and I couldn’t consume it in time before it got cold.


The red bean paste is quite nice with just enough sweetness to flavor each bite.


fragrant and crisp quail with mustard
There is indeed a crispy outer crust, but this piece of quail is also cooked well-done which made it a bit dry and tough in texture. I do appreciate the hint of spice on the quail and delicate knife work on the veggie though.


smoky spicy cold noodle with hokkaido uni - highlight
Al-dente wheat noodle is coated with a healthy douse of sichuan pepper infused oil here which again gives out that numbing zing. The genius here lies in the use of pristine Hokkaido uni which counters the famed spice with its sweetness and creaminess.


matsutake with mustard greens
It’s not a Chinese meal if there aren’t greens right? This is perfection in terms of this category of Chinese veggie dish goes. There’s a delicate crunch to the young mustard greens and the earthy and savory matsutake kept this dish from being too monotonic.


chicken breast tofu
This is yet another technique showcasing dish. The blob of white is a cloud of light and fluffy chicken breast that’s blended and simmered for hours. The broth itself is essentially a very subtle chicken consome.


pear with sichuan pepper
This is essentially a poached pear but the sweet pear’s so soft that it has almost a custardy texture. Also, the numbness I get from the Sichuan peppercorns is quickly subdued by the sweetness of pear.


aloe vera with lemon - highlight
Bright and refreshing. I love the aloe vera texture.


Yu Bo himself greeting his guests

11 Likes
#2

Nice seeing you again, and meeting Moonboy.

Where was dinner #2?

3 Likes
#3

Pleasure was mine.

There was a long line at the ramen place you suggested so we left…

But here’s @PorkyBelly’s second dinner:

Here’s mine:

3 Likes
#4

2 for $5. Righteous.

#5

course 1 - fuzzy melon with garlic


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.
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course 33 and course 34 - filet o fish 1 and filet o fish 2 with an oil, vinegar and caper emulsion, and 'murican pasteurized processed cheese product

no toto

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#6

Wow! The skill behind the vegetable prep is just stunning.
The photos are lovely, too. Thanks for sharing!

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#7

wow, that knifework and presentation! Thanks for the review and pictures.
i hope he opens his restaurant and i hope he succeeds, we don’t get this kind of Chinese/Sichuan food here and it would be nice to push the boundaries of Chinese/Sichuan food here in LA.

#8

Great write up and shots.
Glad i am going.

I HATE firefly squid. It’s definitely a “me” thing as I know so many others are just bonkers for those things.

#9

Is it the flavor or texture? I love the flavor and bursting of its guts when I bite into it.

#10

Flavor - it’s the guts, I guess.
And I usually like the Japanese drinking snack of “regular” fermented squid guts - shiokara, or “salted squid”

#11

Wow! If nothing else this is the prettiest and most refined looking Chinese meal I’ve ever seen served in the US. Nice pics, I’d definitely hit this on my next trip back to LA. What was the damage? Is this a permanent spot? Can’t find the address anywhere on googlesphere.

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#12

it was a foodbowl event, he’s doing 2 more dinners this month. he is in the process of looking for a permanent spot in la though.

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#13

It’s a LA Food Bowl popup event and it’s $197 all in.

Yu Bo’s currently looking to open a place but I do have doubts as to whether he’ll able to attract a consistent following in the US.

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#14

@moonboy403 forgot to mention all of the fancy knife work was done with a fucking meat cleaver, which makes it even more impressive.

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#15

He didn’t use a meat cleaver for the hedgehog, he used a scissor! #whatabum #jk

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#16

Ugh, I hope it’s not true. Fuck the overpriced unskilled modernized hipster Asian shit opening up of late. I want more of these grand masta joints. US is in serious need of stepping up the Chinese food scene to catch up with what’s going on in Asia. Enough glorifying hipster and hole-in-the-wall joints.

3 Likes
#17

Great pics! Didn’t realize that was you with the nice camera during the dinner, but it all makes sense now.

Since @moonboy403 took such good pics of the food already, here’s what else I ate that night, since I walked out still hungry:

Karaage chicken at Anzu. Not very good to be honest.

Still my fave cream puff at Beard Papas:

Also had some bread pudding, but ate it before I took a picture.

Cool experience overall… the people around me seemed to enjoy the meal. I really hope that he’s able to run a successful restaurant (hopefully on the West side). I think there are a ton of challenges to running a profitable high end Chinese restaurant in LA though, and he’s still got a lot to figure out. Nobody else has cracked that nut just yet.

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#18

If every near Lomita or Torrance go to Patisserie Chantilly. It’s like I never knew what a real cream puff was until 6 months ago.

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#19

$200 all in and a bunch of people left hungry. That’s just wrong

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#20

I felt satiated much like I did at Hayato where I had 3 bowls of rice at the end. But I was hungry a few hours later though.