***Best Dishes of 2009***
California Sea Urchin and Angel Hair Carbonara
Sea lettuce, lime, and soy. ($18/$26)
Notes: Without a doubt, this is one of the best sea urchin pasta dishes I have ever had. The pasta was perfectly cooked, coated in a heavily sea urchin-infused butter sauce. Threaded throughout the pasta were tendrils of "sea lettuce" - a form of seaweed - that magnified the brininess of the urchin. The use of lime was smart, smart, smart - magnifying the sweetness of the urchin. Soy heightened the umami element.
The best part of this dish, however, was the generous topping of sea urchin tongues. Usually, sea urchin pastas are stingy on the sea urchins (or, so laden with butter and cream, that the sea urchin becomes simply a colouring agent, having its potency diluted with so many interloping and competing fats). This dish is the type of over-indulging sea urchin dish that all sea urchin dishes should hope to be.
The sprouts on top seemed like an unnecessary addition. But it served a very useful purpose: it helped keep this otherwise rich and creamy dish from being suffocating.