Finally made it out to Red Medicine after months of deliberation! The reason why I hadn’t made it out to the restaurant before my visit early last month was because I couldn’t find anyone to go with me. And when Ben and I tried to go the week before on a whim, there was a 45-minute wait (it was Friday night though, so no surprises there). I made reservations for 9:45 the next Friday, with Ben and Danno willing to join me, but Ben ended up being 20+ minutes late. So we probably waited another 20+ minutes on top of that, as they probably gave our table away. I don’t think they were too pleased (at least that was the impression I got from them – but it was our fault).
Anyways, once we sat down, everyone was happy again. We were definitely the most underdressed and ugly table in the restaurant. While still fairly casual, the ambiance at Red Medicine attracted an interesting combination of bougie hipsters and people who look like they were going clubbing after. Guess this is the casual Beverly Hills crowd nowadays. I didn’t want to order too much, since it was late and I feel bad over-ordering every time I drag the guys out with me to try new places. So we just stuck with four of the small plates, the beef tartare, the famous porridge, and a couple of desserts.
PORK RILLETTE / crispy chicken skin, lychee, clove, pistachio, spicy herbs 11
Pretty good, but I actually felt the flavors were a bit mild here. I guess I like my rillette with more of a fatty taste. Came with baguette toasts to spread the rillette on.
CHICKEN DUMPLINGS / caramelized sugar, pork fat, lemongrass, confitures 9
This was delicious! The chicken meatballs were full of juicy flavors (I’m sure the pork fat that held the meat together helped), and tasted great with the accompanying condiments and small bibb lettuce to wrap everything with.
CRISPY SPRING ROLLS / dungeness crab, lime, pea pods, fines herbes, chili 15
Solid, but didn’t seem that much better than a typical spring roll. At least the use of dungeness crab meat was fairly liberal. The preparation was also in a way more Chinese, since Vietnamese spring rolls are fried with rice paper (don’t think this one was).
BRUSSELS SPROUTS / caramelized shallots, fish sauce, vermouth 9
Another delicious small plate here. The brussels sprouts were full of flavor, soaking up the fish sauce beautifully. The caramelized shallots were a nice complement as well. I could’ve ate bowls of this.
BEEF TARTARE / water lettuce, water chestnut, nuoc leo, chlorophyll, peanut 15
I almost felt bad eating this, since the plating was so nice (like most of the dishes here). Underneath the lettuce was a pretty good version of the tartare, with a bit of a kick. Came with shrimp chips to spread on.
HEIRLOOM RICE PORRIDGE / egg yolk, hazelnuts, ginseng, echire butter 17
And here it is: the famous rice porridge I’ve heard so much about. It certainly didn’t disappoint, and was my favorite dish of the night. Mixing the egg yolk in with everything else (the fancy echire butter in particular), and the result is more like a rich risotto.
COCONUT BAVAROIS / coffee, condensed milk, thai basil, peanut croquant 9
Chef Jordan Kahn began as a pastry chef at such restaurants as The French Laundry, Per Se, and Alinea (fairly decent restaurants :P), so I had high expectations for the desserts. Quite simply, this was the best dessert I’ve had in a long time.
BITTER CHOCOLATE / kecap manis, oats, parsnip, brown butter, soy milk sorbet 11
The bitter chocolate wasn’t too far behind the baravois, but once you go coconut baravois, there is no going back. Like the tartare, I thought that these were well-plated as well.
Again, I didn’t really get to try most of their dishes, due to the size of our party. We were very conservative with our ordering, but I was still impressed by most of what we had. The chicken dumplings, brussels sprouts, porridge, and baravois are all definitely repeat-worthy. I really want to try some of their more adventurous dishes (like the various veggies that look like floral arrangements) as well as some of their proteins like the beef brisket for larger groups. They are open until 2am every night, so maybe I’ll sneak out of the apartment to do some more experimenting in the near future.
Chris Hei grade: B+
8400 Wilshire Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90211