Wednesday, July 27, 2011

WP24: Wolfgang Puck's Pricey Asian restaurant

I’m always hesitant to dine at an upscale Chinese restaurant. It's fine to shell out the bucks for a fresh piece of uni or wagyu beef, but somehow it’s hard to spend $100 per person on Chinese food when you can get a better meal in LA for a fifth of the price. But I was keen when my friend suggested Wolfgang Puck’s newish upscale restaurant WP24 at the Ritz Carlton, at the LA Live in Downtown.

When we first walked in, we sat at the bar waiting for our table. The space is huge, with the outside dining and bar area completely empty. Diners were escorted into the separate dining room with wraparound windows and a gorgeous view of downtown.

While sitting at the bar, I had a glass of bubbly which our bartender kindly filled it up.

The food is served family style and only offered as a three or four course menu. The three course meal costs $80 and includes a starter, main course and dessert. We requested to replace one dessert for another starter, and supplemented the meal with a side of noodles.

Gotta love an Asian restaurant that serves an amuse bouche. The prawn toast is also offered in the lounge menu. There was a large plump shrimp within the buttery deep-fried toast.

The second amuse bouche was seafood turnovers. The pastry was buttery and the filling was well seasoned, although I thought this needed a dipping sauce.

Tasting of Dumplings ($8 supplemental)
This consisted of chive dumpling, dan dan dumpling, tiny dumpling, scallop-shrimp shu mai and shrimp har gow. My favorite was the dan dan dumpling which had a spicy kick and crunchy peanuts. I appreciated that the dumpling skin was fresh and not gummy, and that there was a good serving of shrimp in the filling. However I thought the dumplings tasted almost similar and didn’t offer anything unique from dumplings you can find elsewhere.

Cheow feung rolls with braised kobe beef cheeks, with chile, scallions, cilantro, crispy garlic, hot sesame oil
Once again, I was impressed with the wrapping. The beef cheek filling was tender and spicy. The rice noodle rolls were tasty but I wouldn't have known that it was filled with beef cheeks. The meat tasted almost like braised short ribs.

Crispy suckling pig, quince apple puree, sweet bean, chinese 10 spice
The crispy suckling pig was cooked nicely with layers of fat and a crispy skin. I liked the combination of the salty seasoning and the mildly sweet apple puree.

Singapore Style Chili Prawns, fresh crab, fried garlic, chili, scallions, shallots, pickled ginger
As a Singaporean who has grown up on chili crabs, I was rather disappointed with this dish. While the flavors were fine, I was expecting the layered flavors of a traditional Singapore chili sauce. I was expecting the sauce to have lots of garlic and a zing, perhaps from some homemade sambal. Instead the chili tasted like sriracha. While the dish had good Asian flavors, it did not remind me of anything I’ve had in Singapore.

Crispy glazed Cavendish Farm Quails "General Tso", garlic, dried chiles, ginger, black Chinkiang vinegar
This was perhaps my favorite dish. The portion was quite generous (6 pieces!). The quail was tender and juicy, but still had a crispy skin.

Shanghai noodles with fresh chiles, thai basil leaves, slow cooked oxtail
I thought the noodles needed more seasoning. With all the chiles and herbs, you would think it would have been more flavorful.

Passionfruit Semi Freddo, vanilla scented pineapple, coconut sorbet, gold toffeeMarjolasian, layers of dark chocolate, white espresso mousse, cashew nougatine, coffee ice cream

There was a long delay in getting our dessert. We didn’t mention anything but the waiter told us he would be bringing over an extra dessert. I thought that was a nice touch. Both desserts were pretty good, with lovely presentation. Unfortunately, we were both too full to enjoy more than one bite of each plate.

I have mixed emotions about WP24. I thought some of the dishes were great (quail, shrimp toast), but I expected the flavors to be more explosive. When I compare this to my meals at other upscale Asian restaurants such as Lukshon and Red Medicine, I have to say that WP24 does not meet the mark. The prices are high for dumplings and noodles, and the dishes are not as unique as what you can get from the other two restaurants. The service was also a bit spotty. Our waiter brought by an extra dessert but unfortunately, water glasses were rarely filled, and we had to wait over 20 minutes for our table as we were told that we had to 'wait for hostess' to come back from the dining room. The view was great, so while I may not come back for a full dinner, I may stop by the bar for some cocktails and shrimp toasts.

Hits: quail, view
Misses: pricey, chile prawn not Singaporean
Rating: **1/2

900 West Olympic Blvd.,
Los Angeles, CA 90015
(213) 743-8824


Gastronomer said...

Sorry about this less than stellar meal, Stuffy.

weezermonkey said...

You have confirmed my fears!

I used my Puck gift certificate at Chinois instead. LOL.