California restaurants are getting their last hurrahs in for foie gras, as come July 1 the fatty duck liver will become contraband in the state.
Chaya Brasserie in San Francisco is joining in on the act with its “Au Revoir Foie Gras” menu, now available through the end of June.
Over the weekend, as an invited guest of the restaurant, I had a chance to sample many of the special a la carte foie gras and duck dishes that Executive Chef Yuko Kajino has created just for this blowout. Additionally, Chaya is inviting diners to add a dollop of foie gras to any dish on the regular menu — for an additional $10.
Foie gras sushi?
Do yourself a favor and order the seared foie nigiri. It’s not cheap at $15 for only one piece of unctuous foie gras brushed with sweet, thick soy sauce atop a small mound of rice with a dab of fresh wasabi. But take a bite and you will be so glad you splurged. It’s got the sweet caramelized flavor of unagi, but is far richer and a million times more luxurious. The floral, nasal-y wasabi gives just the right amount of relief to the palate after all that opulence.
There’s also a fun version of a caterpillar roll — only with slow-cooked duck ($22) instead of the usual eel. With crab, avocado and cucumber rolled up inside, it’s all topped with thinly sliced duck slicked with balsamic reduction.
Next, what looks like a baked Chinese char siu bao arrives — except it’s a foie gras beignet ($15). Baked until it’s deeply golden brown, this flaky pastry ball looks innocent enough. But cut into it and the fatty juices from the piece of foie gras hidden inside gush out. The pastry has a subtle sweetness and is brushed with cinnamon-port wine sauce. It’s a fun nosh.
Good thing I don’t have a cholesterol test scheduled anytime soon. We do get our veggies in, though, in the form of a watercress salad ($17) tossed with toasted walnuts, dainty planks of pickled burdock root and smoked Magret duck breast. It’s French meets Japanese, and nicely dressed with a sharp, nutty sherry vinaigrette.
Seared foie gras ($25) gets an unexpected Texas treatment, served over a buttery square of jalapeno-green onion corn bread with fresh corn relish on the side. The unctuous foie is glazed with a lively miso-barbecue sauce that’s savory, tangy and just sweet enough. You might never think of foie gras in a dish like this, but it works.
For big spenders, there’s tempting American Wagyu beef with more seared foie gras ($46) in wasabi-beef jus. The beef melts in your mouth, of course. What’s equally good, though, is the unassuming round of Japanese eggplant, braised until it’s as soft as custard.
If you want to satisfy your foie gras craving while you still can, head on over to Chaya — pronto.
A Look At Another Foie Gras Dinner: “FU Foie Gras” at Lafitte in San Francisco