Recently through Daily Candy and Urban Daddy, I was introduced to a new type of restaurant reservation service called I Know The Chef. I Know The Chef is an online concierge service that gives their members the ability to make reservations at exclusive restaurants at prime times with VIP treatments. I haven’t made an actual reservation from them as of yet but I have attended an event hosted by their founder, Joshua Stern.
(Photo credit to DailyCandy)
This was I Know The Chef’s second ‘Members Dinner’ and it took place at Sen Restaurant on November 13 at 7:30pm. The owner, Toranosuke J. Matsuoka created a delicious and exclusive 5 course menu with sake pairings. It is priced at $70 per person. I think its a very reasonable price for a 5 course with sake pairing but many people will think its too expensive.
(Snapshot of Sen Restaurant Website)
(Photo Credit to Sen Restaurant Website)
When we entered the restaurant I was greeted by a friendly host who led me to the front of the bar where Joshua and the rest of the attendees are. I was immediately offered a cocktail. It was delicious, however I had already forgotten what it was. Rate: 5/5
First course consist of 4 appetizers. Shiseido peppers which were charred Japanese chili peppers with fine sea salt, salmon with cilantro and a mint leaf, edamame with sea salt and a hijiki salad which is a type of dried seaweed soy marinated with radish and sesame seed.
The hijiki salad was light and refreshing but was nothing special. Rate: 3/5
Edamame was just any typical edamame you will see at any Japanese restaurant. Rate: 3/5
The salmon bite was fresh with a tangy aftertaste. Rate: 5/5
It was paired with Houreki Daishichi sake. It’s a very rare type of sake, only a limited amount of bottles are produced each year. A 720mL bottle cost roughly $200! After it smoothly goes down my throat it leaves an aftertaste of banana left in my palate. I never had anything like this before. Rate: 5/5
Second course is thinly sliced fluke with housemate ponzu sauce. The fluke were sliced so thinly that you can see right through it. Lightly paired with the citruses in the ponzu sauce brought out the sweetness and freshness in the fluke. Wish it was sliced slightly thicker. Rate: 4/5
It was paired with Daishichi Kimoto sake. It has a rich body and leaves a very dry finish. It’s bolder then the Houreki Daishichi. It was too bold for me. Rate: 3/5
The third course is a range of petite omakase of nigiri, sashimi and makimoto.
Salmon and tuna nigiri (sushi pcs), sashimi of salmon and tuna (not in above picture), and makimoto (sushi roll) of spicy tuna, salmon and cucumber/avocado, and california roll were served in this course. The salmon was very fresh and the tuna was good but could be better. The spicy tuna roll were lightly spicy. My favorite was the salmon and cucumber/avocado rolls. Vegetables are a very important part of the sushi roll and the cucumber/avocado were just perfect with the right amount of crisp and lightness. Rate: 4/5
The nigiri, sashimi and makimoto was paired with a bottle of Denshin Ine. It has a smooth and dry finish with a subtle undertone of apple. A 720mL bottle of this cost roughly $40. A very reasonable price. Rate: 4/5
The fourth course was Tatsuta, a specialize marinated chicken wings topped with grated radish and scallion. Instead of being in the shape of wings, it was a ball of chicken meat with a small piece of bone. It was presented in a long clear tea light holder. It was very crispy and the chicken meat was soft and moist. The grated radish gives it a very light and fresh finish. Rate: 5/5
This course was paired with a bottle of Hakushika Tokubetsu. This sake was lighter and crisper then the Daishichi Kimoto. Matches perfectly with the dish. Rate: 5/5
My favorite course of the night is the fifth course, Shoyu Truffle Butter Rice Pot. It contains seasonal mixed mushrooms such as shiitake and oyster mushroom, soy sauce and truffle butter. The rice is full of the richness from the mushroom and truffle butter. The rice absorb all the nutrition from the mushrooms. It smells and tastes heavenly. Rate: 5/5
It was pair with the Hakushika “draft” which was bolder then Daishichi Kimoto. I like the lighter crisper sake more then the bold one. Rate: 3/5
Owner, Tora Matsuoka served us the entire night with sake and explain to us the differences between them. It was very educational. Service was amazing. He kept coming around serving more sake. Joshua was sitting directly across from me and entertain us the entire night. It was a very fun night and I can’t wait till the next Member’s Dinner! Will definitely be booking more restaurant with I Know the Chef to receive such amazing VIP service. Service Rate: 5/5