CityZen, Southwest

On Monday, April 18th, CityZen held a fundraiser to benefit the victims of the Japan tsunami disaster. It was a gala affair which featured a brief, moving speech given by Japan’s ambassador to the U.S., Ichiro Fujisaki.

There was both a live and a silent auction, and the live auction in particular showed United States citizens at their finest, opening up their wallets and bidding far, far beyond the estimated values of all packages – one auction lot, with an opening bid of $2,000 and an estimated value of $4,000, featured dinner for eight prepared in your home by Eric Ziebold and sous chef Makoto Hamamura, complete with wines and all the accoutrements. The winning bid? $11,500.

The silent auction was hidden in back, and I’m proud to say I snuck in a winning bid for two tasting menus at Sushi Taro.

Total proceeds from the event were nearly $75,000. Well done, CityZen.

And I’d like to acknowledge the area restaurants that volunteered their time, chefs, and resources to set up stations for this successful event. In alphabetical order:

Argia’s, CityZen, Corduroy, Kaz Sushi Bistro, Kushi, Sei, Sushi Taro, and Tako Grill.

I hadn’t dined at CityZen in months, so the next week I went back and remedied that situation.

I got a Chef’s Tasting Menu ($110) with Wine Pairing ($85), and the courses began arriving in earnest:

Spring Garlic Soup with garlic and thyme croquettes, and goat cheese pudding (vegetarian)

Takenoko [Bamboo] Tempura with Haas avocado, shaved radish, and orange Sichuan vinaigrette (vegetarian)

Confit of Casco Bay Merlu with crusched artichokes, roasted pepper, and sauce barigoule

Pan Seared Maine Diver Scallop with roasted takenoko, baby bok choy, tamarind-cilantro emulsion, and coconut cream

Roasted Tenderloin of King Richard Leek with butternut squash and sultana raisin duxelles, and vadouvan velouté (vegetarian)

Braised Martin Ranch Baby Lamb Shank with Anson Mills white grits, arrow leaf spinach, and cumin lamb jus

Ginger Beignet with vanilla-ginger cream, orange-pistachio salad, and muscovado ice cream (vegetarian)

The descriptions of these dishes speak for themselves, and each course was perfectly paired with a wine presented by sommelier Andy Meyers – in once of the courses, Andy deliberately served a white Burgundy which he knew to be ever-so-slightly premoxed, saying that if it wasn’t slightly advanced, it wouldn’t work, and I saw exactly what he meant – it was both unique and brilliant.

Note that many of these courses came from CityZen’s unmatched vegetarian menu – nobody in this city pays better attention to vegetarians than CityZen.

Two final words: it is well-known in this dining community that Eric Ziebold is one of my best friends. Having said that, I’m also going to say that CityZen serves the greatest cuisine that the Washington, DC area has ever seen (with the caveat that my memory only goes back to Le Lion d’Or in the 1980s). I’m trying to think of serious rivals – The Tasting Room at Restaurant Eve, Palena, Komi, The Oval Room, Citronelle ten years ago, Maestro when it first opened, Galileo in its heyday, The Dining Room at the Pentagon City Ritz-Carlton under Gerard Pangaud fifteen years ago, The Inn at Little Washington twenty years ago – and there aren’t many. Take this statement with the appropriate grain of salt, but I mean it from the heart and write it from the head.

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