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Monday, March 20, 2017

Pok's Raw Bar - Omakase

I've been waiting for this day to come. The raw bar at Pok is open! I saw that some friends of mine had gone opening night and they said I HAVE to go. I was leaving for my Iceland trip that Friday and my schedule was quite hectic. But I thought, "I must make this happen!!!!" :P So I contacted the chef, Chef Jimmy Park, the next day and asked if the raw bar is open daily. He told me it's open for lunch and dinner, 7 days a week! Then he said to let him know when I wanted to come in and he'll order some special fish. Um, YES PLEASE!!! I was getting REALLY excited. So we scheduled for a Wednesday night at 6PM. I invited a friend to go with me. I knew she would totally appreciate this experience. Plus it's always more fun to dine with a friend. :)

Pok the Raw Bar
3699 McKinney Ave #306
Dallas, TX 75204
(214) 484-1139
Price (for the raw bar): Varies

We arrived at 6PM and the place was quieter than I'm used to. I generally go during the lunch rush. It was nice... we had 2 seats open for us at the raw bar. It is only a 6 seater, y'all, so you gotta go early! There was already another couple there and a few minutes later, 2 more guys showed up. One turned out to be a blogger as well! @eatstyledallas writes about food, fashion, and lifestyle. I've definitely seen many of his posts on Instagram. The 4 of us hit it off and that made the dinner all the more merrier!

Chef Jimmy personally made every piece of food for us that evening. It was wonderful to see him work, the passion, and to be able to talk to him throughout the meal. He's a really fun guy and his love for his craft really shines through. We were all doing the omakase (or "chef's choice") so our fate was in his hands. Honestly, I think all of us would happily eat anything he put in front of us, no questions asked. :P

We started with some Edamame. This was served cold, sprinkled with a little salt. A lot of places normally serve it warm, but the cold temp actually was quite refreshing. The edamame were big and plump. It was a good snack in between the different courses.

Let's jump right in shall we? I have to apologize in advance if I misspell anything or mis-wrote my notes. I tried to take everything down as he was introducing them.

Hiramasa with Serrano (baby yellowtail). Gorgeous dish. It was fun watching Chef Jimmy assemble it. He has a very delicate hand. He advised us to either the berry before or after the dish. It is sweet and will cleanse the palate. I opted for after. The fish was so fresh and tender. I loved the heat from the serranos. And the berry was definitely a refreshing finish.

Yellowfin Tuna from Kauai?, Hawaii. Chef Jimmy aged this tuna for 8 days. Apparently fish can be too "young", I had no idea! But the aging process creates more depth in both the color and flavor. It was fantastic as well. We had several tuna preparations and it only got better from here.

Snapper with Asian Pear and Ume Salsa. Ume is Japanese Plum. I can't say I've ever had it in salsa form. hehe. This was a cute little bite. The nugget of pear wrapped in the middle was a nice surprise. The crunch and sweetness paired with the tender fish and ume worked together so well. I've definitely never had anything like this before.

Salmon Belly (with 3 year aged soy sauce; topped with sesame seeds). I love me some salmon. That's probably why this was one of my favorite bites. It was so buttery and melted in your mouth. And the sesame seeds brought this nuttiness that hits you at the end of your bite. The progression of flavors in that one bite was pretty spectacular.

Japanese Snapper ("Matsuhisa style"; yuzu, shiso, arashio salt). No idea what Masuhisa style is but it was delicious. haha. I have to admit, I didn't understand a lot of the terms and names the chef was throwing out. But I just wrote them down. hehe.

Akami Tuna. Check out the knife skills. The chef scored the fish so more sauce can soak into it. It looks cool too!

Hirame (cured in kombu). I believe this is a Japanese flounder. I actually saw a video on Pok's IG of the chef washing it while it was still moving. This is as fresh as you get, folks! We also got to try it plain, without the rice and soy sauce. 
And I gotta mention the sushi rice... it was the perfect texture. Plump grains mixed with red vinegar and sea salt. And it was the perfect temperature. Sushi rice should not be super cold. Room temp is best. It was also not packed super tight. The chef was telling us a sign of good technique is if the nigiri "moves" as the chef sets it on the plate. The rice is slightly loose so you can see it settle. And the looseness of the rice helps you experience the bite, when it "explodes" in your mouth. I definitely felt this as he was explaining it. It's quite magical.

Hokkaido Scallop. I think I've only had a scallop nigiri once in my life, and I don't remember much of it. This particular scallop had a sweetness to it. You can definitely taste it. And the scallop was as tender as can be. It was a great bite.

Homemade Shrimp. This is not frozen. The chef cleaned, prepped, butterflied the shrimp and boils it with a secret ingredient. I never order shrimp when I go to sushi restaurants because it's just not great. This was different. The texture was plumper, firmer, and definitely very fresh. The color was also vibrantly red.

Aged Tuna (marinated in soy sauce for 72 hours). Melt in your mouth tender. You can really taste the soy sauce.

Snow Crab. It's real crab, y'all! Not that imitation stuff. Expertly removed from the shell. And like the shrimp, you can tell the freshness just from the texture of the meat.

Fatty Tuna from Spain. We had this 2 ways. The first was sashimi with a little bit of sauce and I think some sort of garlic topping on top? 
I can't remember anymore... I was kind of in a glorious stupor at this point. And I started taking less notes... haha. :P But I do remember that this was also one of my favorite pieces of fish. The 2nd preparation was in nigiri form. One of my favorite bites of the night.

Uni. Yaasssssssssss! I love me some uni! I just never order it in Dallas because they're usually super expensive and just quite disappointing. But you guessed it, this one did NOT disappoint. Uni has a specific texture and is an acquired taste. It's very creamy which I love! But sometimes it can get quite fishy tasting. This was fantastic. Everyone was oooh-ing and quite literally moaning. hahaha.

At this point, Chef Jimmy says "are you guys ready for round 2?" And went off to the kitchen. We all looked around at each other, really hoping he wasn't joking. We've already had so many spectacular bites... is it really only half way? OMG. I think we all became really giddy. :P

So he started us off with the more traditional sashimi and nigiri. And now he's getting more modern and fusion.

Spicy Tuna Taco (fried gyoza skin shell). When we all saw the taco shells we got super excited. This was so much fun. And just delicious. The shell was perfectly crisp, the tuna was seasoned and sauced perfectly, and the chilies on top added a little more kick.

Tuna on Lotus Chip (ponzu truffle mayo?). I'm not sure what all he put on there. But the truffle was very evident which was great. The lotus chip is not only pretty but added that crispy element. Such a cute bite.

Torched Crab Handroll (in sesame rice paper). When he first started prepping this, we had no idea what to expect. He put the shredded crab in piles on 2 plates and topped them with a spicy mayo. We were like "how do we eat that? Scoop it with our hands maybe?" haha. 
But then we saw the blow torch. YAAASSSSSSSSS!!! Fire! We're gonna torch some food! It was a great show too. Big flames and we smelled the crab bake and char. Drooling! 
Then he started prepping the paper. It was white and studded with sesame seeds. I have never seen this kind of rice paper before. He layered rice, some green onions, the torched crab/mayo, and eel sauce. ooOOOOoooooo! The rice paper was surprisingly soft but held everything in so well. If I had to choose, this was my favorite of the night. But only if I HAD to choose. haha.

Tuna Hand Roll. We all thought this was the last thing. But just you wait!

He ended the meal with this green berry looking thing for everyone. I still don't know what it is, but it was sweet and very tasty.

It was so amazing. We were all on cloud 9 and just chatting with the chef and chilling. Then he goes "do you want one more thing? Dessert?" Sure! But then we saw the blowtorch again and he began to prep eel?

Japanese Sea Eel (the eel was used to make the eel sauce too). Eel for dessert? I can dig it.. the sauce is usually a littel sweet anyways. hahaha. :P The sauce glistened on the torched eel. It was sooooo good. A wonderful finale.

But then... as we sat around and chatted some more. The waitress brought over actual desserts for all of us. It's kind of like an Asian Ice Cream Sandwich
The outside shell is similar to a cake cone texture. I've had many of these when I go overseas. Different shapes, filled with different flavors and fillings. This had vanilla ice cream inside and was served on a pool of honey. As I held it up to me, I saw there was a layer of something dark on the ice cream. I thought it was going to be red bean paste but it turns out to be a thin layer of hardshell chocolate. Even better!! 
We were all moaning and oooh-ing again. hahaha. It had been a very foodgasmic experience for sure! And finally, we ended on a spectacular bite. I kept secretly hoping if we linger around some more we would get even more food though. hahaha.

The whole dinner took almost 2.5 hours. A fantastic 2.5 hours! It was nice to just sit there and enjoy every aspect of the meal... Chef Jimmy's love and talent for what he does, the exquisite quality of all the ingredients, and the journey he took us on from beginning to end. My friend said he has truly ruined all other sushi experiences for her. haha. I'd have to agree. I can't think of a single place in Dallas that does what Chef Jimmy is doing with the raw bar. To have a dedicated chef making you course by course... it really brought me back to my trips to Japan.

And the price point? It's killer. If you get "The Pok", it's $35 and you get some amazing things. The "Trust Me" omakase will be varied by market price and number of pieces, but it will still be a great deal and totally worth it.

Thank you, Chef Jimmy, for taking us on this gastronomical journey. I CANNOT wait to see what else you bring for us in the future!! And thanks to our waitress, Tina, who kept us hydrated the entire night, constantly replenishing our water glasses, and clearing our dirty dishes. :)

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Value (we got a killer discount!):

Overall Experience:


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Unicorn Dreamz - Cake Workshop w/ Three Twelve Co

I had the most fun this past weekend. I attended a Unicorn Cake Workshop with Three Twelve Company. Magic, and sprinkles, and rainbows, oh my! :P Lala (or Lauren) of @threetwelveco is a baker turned event production business owner. She made 3 of my 7 wedding cakes, including the main two-tiered centerpiece. :) I've known Lala for a couple years now, we've become friends, and I have attended several of her workshops and pop ups. They are always a lot of fun. But a cake workshop is what I've been waiting for!

She did the first Unicorn Cake workshop back at the beginning of February. I was sooooo bummed because I couldn't make that one. But it was so popular that she did a second one this past Saturday. YAASSSSSS! I was so psyched. I immediately bought a ticket and marked it on my calendar. I didn't even care that none of my friends could go with me. haha. The workshop was $130... a little pricey yes, but I've always found the experience of Three Twelve Co's events to be worth more than the cost. :D So I KNOW I was gonna have a good time. Plus you get all the materials provided and you get to take your cake home.

Three Twelve Co @ Place on Parry
3711 Parry Ave #104
Dallas, TX 75226
(214) 608-1161
Price: $130

I waited for weeks and finally the day was here. I love her event space btw... Place on Parry. You can rent it out for special events. There's high ceilings, pretty lights, and white walls... a photographer or Instagrammer's dream! 
How cute!! We each got our own work stations with all the materials. Included were three 8" round cakes, fondant, different colored frosting in piping bags, buttercream frosting, gloves, and more. We also got to sip on some mimosas with the cutest unicorn straws and there were little snacks for us to munch on. So I don't get tempted and eat all my cakes. haha.

Lala taught us herself. She walked us through every step. We started by using the neat little cake cutter to level off the top of each cake. This is a cool tool. Made it super easy to cut a completely level top to each round. And what do we do with the rounded tops?! We EAT them of course! Or at least I did. hahaha. They were sooooo buttery and yummy! The cakes were so fluffy and soft. I had eaten a whole top before the workshop was over. hehe.

Next we spread the buttercream on the tops and start stacking the layers. Then we cover the entire thing with more buttercream. Lala baked and made all the cakes and frostings, btw. And it's delicious. Frosting a cake is harder than it looks, y'all. It's hard not to pull up parts of the cake as you spread the frosting. But I think mine turned out pretty good!

Then we move on to the fondant. We used the fondant to cover the cake as well as make the horn for the unicorn. My horn turned out really good, but just as I got my camera for a picture, the bottom was too heavy and punched a hole at the top. :( It's ok tho, we're going to be sticking it into the cake so I just pushed it back up. haha. 
Lala and her helpers took the rest of the fondant to the back to roll out for us. I'm glad we didn't have to roll the fondant cuz that would be disastrous! XP Fondant is not easy to work... you have to be gentle so you don't rip it or puncture a hole in it. I was able to get it all smooth except for one side. But we can cut that off and use the frosting to cover it up. hehe. You can see the line in my picture.

We got some edible gold paint for the horns and used some of the leftover fondant for the ears. Then we started piping the "mane" of the unicorn. It is up to your personal creativity on how you want it to look. Everyone's looked different and interesting. I went with a rosette-esque design. Lots of circles and swirls. Then we had all these "accessories" for the unicorns... sugar pearls of different colors and sizes, sprinkles, glitter, all edible. What do you think of my creation? :)

There was also a photo station set up where we can put our cakes on stands and take pictures. We did group pictures of the class and individual ones. The balloon backdrop made it that much more whimsical. 
What a fantastic day. Three Twelve Co did not disappoint. I was so happy with my finished product, and couldn't wait to take it home to share it with my husband. Although I wanted to cry a little when I made the first cut into it... it's so pretty... And the cake is soooooooooooo good y'all. We were half way through before Saturday was over. :P

I had a blast at the workshop. I learned how hard it is to make a cake look nice and professional. I snacked on the yummy cake tops. And I made a new friend! The girl next to me came by herself too and we just kind of bonded. hehe. 

Thanks to Lala for another fantastic workshop. Follow her at @threetwelveco for all future events. She's got several things in the works! You can also follow her at  @lalascakes. :)

Overall Experience: