Foodstuff: Sake to me
Luxurious omakase in Aspen
I just spent $200 on dinner, and I have no idea what I ate.
It all started a couple of years ago, when the New York City-based Taikun sushi restaurant took up a slick pop-up residency at the Marble Bar in the Aspen Mountain Residences (formerly Hyatt Grand Aspen). At the time of its premiere, it was a tough table to score, and I managed to eke out two bar seats for myself and a friend. It was awesome and has taken up space in my head ever since.
This winter, Taikun moved into the Hotel Jerome’s Bad Harriet beneath the original Aspen Times building, and I jumped at the chance to return for the locals’ discount offer of $75 off during the month of March.
Billed as a “premiere omakase experience in the Rocky Mountains,” our 7:30 p.m., two-hour dinner featured 13 courses, pulsed out on eight different plates. Our metaphorical cruise director for the evening was the smartly suited Adrian, who smoothly slipped my dinner companion and me a metallic gold Bad Harriet business card before the festivities began. Nice touch.
We were seated across from one another on velvety love seats, a low table in front of us. The dinner price includes a service fee, tax, and gratuity (bringing the total to about $204 per person) but does not include drink pairings. That said, when we got settled, the server brought us a complimentary, beautifully presented bourbon cocktail, topped with a cherry stabbed through the center by a stick of actual wheat, whittled into a toothpick. Yet another nice touch. But I wasn’t there for the ambiance or the swizzle sticks. Bring on the raw fish.
The dinner began with a platter of four different bites, and I was instantly hooked. Clockwise from the top of the plate was an expertly filleted Hamachi collar, a scoop of Wagyu beef tartare, a gorgeous seaweed and cucumber salad with a tiny zucchini blossom on top, and a single West Coast oyster, covered in some kind of sauce.
And by “some kind of sauce,” this is where I mean to say it gets, uh, murky. As I mentioned, there were a lot of courses. Red snapper, sweet shrimp, scallop, seared beef, foie gras, toro, yellowtail, caviar, salmon. A silky-soft, savory custard with lobster on top.
Sweating, embarrassed to request a rundown of what I’d already shoved in my face at lightning speed, about halfway through this eating extravaganza, I realized, even though there is no menu traditionally provided with an omakase experience, that I should have asked for some sort of written record or at least started furiously writing things down myself.
It didn’t help that Adrian was (quite) generous with the sake. How was I going to justify spending two-hundred dollars on a single meal, with no understanding of what I’d consumed?
No matter — I was in!
“Sake to me, Adrian! Yes, I would love a tasting of your driest rice wine!” So, 13 courses (including a cube of matcha cake for dessert), three glasses of sake, and one complimentary cocktail later, I was completely full and desperate to record this meal for posterity. Luckily, as I reviewed the photos we took, I was glad to realize I remembered specifics of most of the meal (because I certainly couldn’t forget the price).
While this Bad Harriet iteration of Taikun is currently closed for off-season, if you have a hankering for sushi, then some of my other local favorites are Matsuhisa Aspen (when you want to go big), Kenichi (Aspen or Snowmass when you want to go medium), Thai House & Co. Sushi in El Jebel, or Izakaya in Carbondale. Tasty and won’t break the bank in most cases.
In the meantime, Adrian, if you’re out there, please feel free to send me an exact rundown of what I ate to tide me over until I see you again in another two years, which is the exact amount of time it will take me to feel less guilty about such an epicurean extravagance.
Katherine Roberts is a midvalley based writer and marketing professional who can usually describe foods to the letter, even the ones she claims to have forgotten. She can be reached via her marketing and communications firm, Carington Creative, at email@example.com.
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