LA's beloved food writer, Jonathan Gold, goes both raw and vegan to taste the food of chef Matthew Kenney at Santa Monica's popular M.A.K.E. restaurant, juice bar and cooking school in this week's LA Times review. How does the self-described 'belly of Los Angeles' like it? Well, he give it a fair shot. He notes that the kitchen equipment and techniques used are much like those of America's well-known molecular kitchens, and that Kenny has been refining his craft for years.
So lasagna is made of shaved zucchini in place of noodles, grated macadamias in place of ricotta and dried tomatoes in place of a long-cooked ragu. The textures and flavors are familiar, but it is less a replica of the pasta dish than a nod in its direction, complete with a killer pesto. Maki — untoasted nori seaweed wrapped around slivers of avocado and Japanese pickles — looks persuasively like a sliced sushi roll but tastes nothing like it, probably because the "rice" is made from a minced white vegetable (I'm guessing jicama). Kimchi dumplings, surrounded by a moat of vivid purple, are wrapped in leaf-green skins made by dehydrating a vegetable purée until they do somewhat resemble dumpling skins.
Will this food erase a carnivore's taste for meat? "Of course not," says Gold, "any more than a trip to Mastro's Steakhouse will persuade a vegan to switch sides. But it may be enough to make him take a second look." [LAT]