Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Checking out chef Mihoko Obunai's cooking at Joli Kobe

Posted By on Wed, Apr 17, 2013 at 10:20 AM

I mentioned in an earlier post that Joli Kobe is hosting a special ramen dinner this Friday, April 19, starting at 6 p.m. As it happens, the restaurant was featuring one of the ramen dishes, miso tonkotsu (above), last Friday. So, I talked three friends into journeying outside the Perimeter again to sample the cooking of Chef Mihoko Obunai.

Atlanta foodies remember that Chef Obunai co-owned Repast (R.I.P.) with her ex-husband Joe Truex, and most recently teamed up with Guy Wong of Miso Izakaya to serve ramen lunches that received national attention.

I had my best meal in weeks at Joli Kobe. Obunai's culinary influences are principally from her native Japan, but she also attended the French Culinary Institute in New York and worked in some renowned French restaurants in that city. Her cooking's flavors both tease and blaze.

The menu, which changes daily, included nine choices, three of them starters.

We ordered all three starters: a salad with asparagus and thin-cut baby carrots; an arugula salad with farro, grapefruit, and fennel; and cured Atlantic salmon with fennel and baby celery.

I ordered the ramen for an entree. Also on the table were smoked and seared Georgia trout with baby bok choy, mushrooms, and yuzu vinaigrette (above right); and seared hanger steak with roasted broccoli and bourbon jus.

Obunai's presentation is as gorgeous here as it was at Repast. The trout, for example, was served beneath the fish's detached, crispy skin. My friend wouldn't eat it. Were I him, I would have broken the skin into pieces and mixed it with the chunks of flesh beneath it.

Dessert was easy. You pick out a pastry from the adjoining bakery. Mine was made with white chocolate and a whisper of raspberries (left).

There wasn't a dish on the table that failed.

This Friday, Obunai will be joined by Chef Shigetosi Nakamura of New York's Ramen Lab, which is reputed to make the nation's best ramen noodles. Rusty Bowers, owner/butcher of Pine Street Market, will also be present. Get your tickets online.

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