Sherman's Food Adventures: Land & Sea

Land & Sea

Honestly, I do not know why it has taken me so long to post this visit to Land & Sea.  I literally went when it first opened, but got busy and neglected a bunch of posts that should've been written.  For those who don't already know, Land & Sea is the latest spot opened up by industry veteran Kevin Lin with Steph Wan at the front-of-the-house.  The place features a menu heavily influenced by Asian flavours and ingredients.  Even before I visited the place, there was heavy social media buzz, especially with several of their signature dishes.

Before I got to those dishes, we were served an Amuse Bouche consisting of a nori chip topped with 48 hour veal cheek, miso mojo, tobiko and tear drop sweet pepper.  This little bite sure packed a flavour and textural punch.  From the crunch of the nori chip to the melt-in-my-mouth richness of the fatty veal cheek, there was a lot going on.  Not to mention the umaminess from the nori and miso as well as the saltiness to go with the sweet pop of the pepper.

Seemingly on the same wavelength, the Shiso Wrap with satsuma A5 wagyu, hokkaido uni and ikura was on a whole other level compared to the amuse bouche.  Put all of the most expensive and luxurious ingredients at hand onto a shiso leaf and see what we get.  Well, it wasn't random because the fatty meatiness of the wagyu was further accentuated by the creamy and sweet uni.  Add in the pops of the sea from ikura and the herbaceousness of the shiso and there was plenty of good going on in this one bite.

From there, we headed over to something that is no longer on the current menu.  These were the Aburi Pink Scallops with seaweed and shirataki noodles, ikura and tear drop peppers.  Too bad it isn't offered anymore because it was pretty solid.  The shells themselves were pretty and the scallops were sweet and buttery.  I enjoy them in the shell because the contrast of the mantle to the scallop meat in terms of texture works for me.

Okay, here we are with the most IG'd plate from Land & Sea - Ora King Salmon Soba that is flame finished and served atop green tea soba salad with creamy sesame ponzu, yuzu tobiko and ikura on top.  Very pretty plate where the salmon was super buttery and literally required no chewing.  It would just melt, but wasn't mushy.  It was naturally sweet and the fish oils were luxurious.  Underneath, the soba was cooked right and the sesame dressing went well with the dish.

So what could be better than dining on delicious and well-prepared ora king salmon?  Having the chef send out Grilled Ora King Salmon Kama as a bonus!  This was simply grilled and served with grated oroshi and ponzu.  This was a very simple dish, but with such a beautiful ingredient, there wasn't much that needed to be done than cook it right.  That it was and the butteriness of the collar was fantastic.  Even more delicious fattiness here combined with natural sea flavours.

Up next was another dish sent out by the chef in the Grilled Belgian Endive with hand-peeled shrimp, tobiko, miso Caesar dressing, parmesan and uni.  This is where you can see Japanese-influences even more so than the ora king salmon.  The flavours were bold, but in my mind worked.  The sweetness of the shrimp and uni paired well with the bitterness of the endive.  The fermented saltiness of the miso gave a different slant than the traditional anchovies in the Caesar dressing.  The crunch from the endive broke up the softness of the other ingredients.

Now a dish that had Chinese influences in the Vongole XO with chitarra, Fanny Bay clams, sake, garlic butter, house made baby clam XO and micro cilantro.  Overall, the dish was a hit with al dente chitarra and a sauce that did capture the qualities of XO without tasting completely like it.  There was a nice seafoodiness and brininess from the XO as well as the clams.  The garlic butter and sake were also there but took a backseat to the brininess.  I could've done without the micro cilanto though as it seem to detract from the beautiful flavours.

We had to get our requisite side of veggies to balance off the gluttony (so we could feel a little bit better about ourselves...).  The choice was to order the Broccolini with spicy gomae sauce.  Another simple dish, but executed well.  Broccolini was prepared right being vibrant and crunchy while wilted and charred.  Spicy gomae made this taste somewhat like the spinach version but a lot crunchier and with a kick. 

Onto an off-menu item, we had the Mentaiko Waffle Fries.  So yes, these were essentially crunchy waffle fries topped with kewpie mayo and a whole lot of mentaiko.  Another seemingly simple dish, but fun to eat.  This captured the essence of Japanese flavours with a very North American base ingredient.  I'd gladly eat this again.

The most expensive item we ordered was the Snake River Farms Wagyu with gold label 6oz striploin, shiso, daikon oroshi and sesame garlic jus.  In terms of the meat, it was worth every penny as it was prepared properly and the intense marbling meant that it was buttery soft with serious beef flavour as a result.  I found the sauce to be a competent compliment to the steak but it was a bit syrupy and sweet.  Something a bit lighter might've highlighted the meat more.  However, they have already changed this to a miso peppercorn sauce.  I'm sure this would work better in this dish.

We were ending the savoury items with a bang in the miso glazed Gindara Sablefish with egg tofu, tomato dashi, baby shiitakes, cherry tomatoes, broccolini and tobiko.  Other than the ora king salmon, this was the other favourite dish.  As much as sablefish is forgiving to prepare, this was done expertly where it was fully cooked but still buttery and flaky.  The glaze was impactful yet didn't overwhelm the fish. Loved the dashi as it was full-flavoured without being salty.  This really highlighted the delicate fish while still providing enough seasoning.

There are only 2 desserts on the menu and the one I liked best was the Strawberry Lemon Panna Cotta with white chocolate namelaka, strawberry shiso compote and salted lemon crumble.  Naturally, I'm drawn to fruity desserts and this was right up my alley.  The panna cotta was light and semi-sweet.  Strawberries were sweet and tangy with shiso (subbing for what is usually mint or basil).  Lemon crumble added tang and some texture.

So this dessert is also no longer on the menu, but we quite enjoyed it.  The Earl Grey Tiramisu consisted of vanilla cream, earl grey shortbread, espresso kahlua jelly and orange coulis.  This really captured the essence of a tiramisu, yet at the same time incorporated earl grey flavour.  The addition of the jelly provided the coffee punch while the coulis added acidity.   Overall, the food at Land & Sea was well-prepared with often bold flavours.  Some ingredients were repeated a few times, yet at the same time, the bottom line is that the food is worth returning to.

The Good:
- Proteins were spot on
- Fusion that works
- Unique

The Bad:
- Some repetitive ingredients
- Price point puts it amongst some of the best in town


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