On Facebook, as usual, and I spied a post about a local long-time respected restaurant that made a complete reboot of their menu by adding: “sea-to-table” fare that represents “the farmers and fisherman of this state in the most delicious and delectable way” courtesy existing Chef Daniel Csotai and new sushi Chef Eric Hu. The new restaurant takes over where Vines restaurant left off, in the Hyatt Regency Valencia on Town Center Drive and McBean Parkway in the beating heart of downtown Valencia.
I was very surprised as I walked through the main doors to the hotel and entered the restaurant. The wall that previously stood between the reception area and the bar was no more; instead, by removing the wall, there was a much more open feel just to the bar alone, and it traveled from the bar to the seating in the reception area. In the past I had to get to the bar early for Happy Hour if I wanted to get a seat, now it would be no problem, and my people-watching view would be larger than ever before. There was also now two refrigerated units at the bar just for the sushi chef, who would be between two full bar areas. The bar is the same, but it looks completely different than before.
The restaurant’s main dining room has changed as well, from floor to ceiling with new flooring, dining tables and lighting. It has a very open and airy feeling. For our dinner that night we were ushered into a room that formerly housed small dining areas, now it was turned over into a private dining room, with doors on two sides, very nicely done. I settled in to see what we were going to be trying out for the first time.
The Dinner Menu
The dinner menu focuses on a “Chef’s Taste” section featuring charred local pear, Hamachi crudo…as well as pork belly with edamame, duck, and Baby Back Ribs. Then there’s a “Garden” section with four choices, several “Sandwiches”, five items in the “Share” section and then eight choices for mains: Pork Shank, Black Cod, Scottish Salmon, Bone-in NY Steak, Filet Mignon, Vegetarian Carbonara, Black Tiger Shrimp and Shelton Farms Chicken. The reverse side is a full page of wine choices, and there is a separate menu for cold sake that includes no less than seven choices = there should be something for everyone here! (Some of us at the table had sake with our dinner, the big hit was the Cowboy Yamahai: cowboy junmai ginjo – 50% of the sake rice was milled I believe – genshu yamahai.)
Greater Pacific Chef’s Table
Chef Csotai spent some time with us before each dish was served, introducing the dish as well as explaining their new program. He said that the new menu was their way of moving “away from the past to a greater future,” and added, “Everything is “farm-to-table, locally sourced, sustainable, no additives, fresh and clean.” We would notice that the “natural original flavor (as) intended by mother nature” would come through as well as what Chef Csotai called “the integrity” of the dishes.
We began with a First Course of Sushi, Carpaccio and Crudo. Chef Eric Hu prepared all of these. Accompaniments, like ginger, wasabi and soy sauce were available but I chose to enjoy mine as the chef intended and eat as prepared. This would prove to be my favorite course in the tasting, and set my palate, also enjoying the Cowboy Yamahai sake I paired it with, to welcome in our next course.
Our Second Course was Valencia Orange Pork Belly that was served over the most delicate and flavorful carrot puree – homemade of course. Chef Csotai explained that the pork had been marinated overnight – it was like charred butter, simply delicious. Alongside this on our plate was a Poached Baja Shrimp Cocktail that most of us dispatched in one or two bites, diving back into the dish to finish every drop of the homemade sauce.
Next up for our Third Course was a salad presentation: Camarillo Strawberry and Baby Kale. There was also some candied walnuts, maybe a feta or goat cheese and a dressing none of us could exactly describe…was it curry…or something else? Very delightful.
Our Intermezzo was a Yuzu Sorbet served in a martini glass. Of course I joked that the only thing the dish would benefit from would be three ounces of vodka – so don’t be shocked to find that on the bar menu soon! LOL. Todd Wilson, of FEEDSCV and the Santa Clarita Foodies group on Facebook, explained that Yuzo is used for Ponzu sauce. Ah, interesting as the flavor was hard for most of us to recognize, it was very unique, floral, fruity and tart.
Our Main Course was a sampling of several dishes: a Soy Miso Cured Black Cod with Garlic Miso and Parsnip Puree that I just loved for all that Miso; Shelton Farms Grilled Breast of Chicken with Wild Mushrooms had a lovely flavor; Aged Beef Tenderloin with a Maytag Blue Cheese Demi Glace that was cooked perfect with just the right amount of pink inside; and a side plate of roasted potatoes and Parmesan cauliflower.
I really had no room left for more food, however Chef Csotai put us all over the edge with his version of S’mores: several layers of graham crackers stacked high with both white and milk chocolate – and pop rocks!
Now, it’s your turn to go try!
Hyatt Regency Valencia: 661-799-1234
Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a “certification in first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video (over 16k views), authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru and the Global Wine Awards. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits. You can also seek her marketing advice via Eve@EveBushmanConsulting.com