April 13, 2015

Where everybody knows your name

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I was planning to work late and have a simple dinner on my own, when a friend pinged me.  Was I busy tonight?  No.  She needed a pick-me-up.  Could we go to David Lai's Neighborhood tonight?  Well, I wasn't feeling particularly hungry, but I could certainly keep her company.  I happened to be in touch with another friend who was already at Neighborhood, and we quickly arranged for me to take over her table after her time was up.

I wasn't the least bit hungry, thanks to the fact that about 2½ hours before sitting down to dinner, I decided to inhale a bag of incredibly delicious, recently-expired Calbee yuzukosho (柚子胡椒)-flavored potato chips.  So from my perspective, ours was gonna be a low-revenue table for David...

Truffle poached artichoke / smoked garlic aioli - David very kindly sent this out to start us off.  I have come to love David's steamed artichokes at On Lot 10, but this poached version was even better.

Sea urchin / sea bream ceviche - this really appealed to me because ceviche means acidity, and that was just what I needed to kickstart my nonexistent appetite.  This fulfilled its purpose perfectly thanks to the sharp acidity.  The combination of the silky sea urchin, thick chunks of sea bream, thin slice of cucumber, shredded red onion, paper-thin wafers of red radish, balls of smooth and creamy avocado delivered a mélange of flavors as well as textures.  The coriander and kaffir lime leaf chiffonade added the extra fragrance.

Rocket / pigsear salad - the last time I had this salad here, it came without any trace of the egg.  Today the egg made it a whole lot richer, and also dialed down the acidity from balsamic vinaigrette.  The pig's ear was still tasty, the croûtons still yummy.

Acquerello risotto / bone marrow - I don't think I can ever get tired of this dish... and it seems everyone else loves it, too.  Tonight the rice was definitely undercooked and hard, but I like it that way.  Those chunks of bone marrow?  Manna from heaven.

No dessert for us, so we simply had the canelés.  Always wonderful.

David was amazed that I didn't want to drink anything (so was my ex-colleague at the next table)... but I really don't need to drink at every meal.  After asking me several times, I finally relented.  He very kindly sent us two shots of chartreuse, and told us to take the herbal solutions for medicinal purposes...

As my friend e_ting wrote just a few days ago, I wish Neighborhood really was my neighborhood joint.  (Incidentally, e_ting and I really are neighbors...)  I looked around and there were three familiar faces in the restaurant - besides, of course, David and Shirley who know me by name.  So yeah, while it isn't exactly like Cheers for me, it's definitely got that neighborhood feel to it...

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