I’m skipping our trip to Los Angeles and Orange Country briefly in order to write about one of the most amazing meals that S and I have ever had the pleasure of enjoying. (We do have a post on California in the works; that should be up by early next week.) This past Sunday, we had the honor of dining at, according to Restaurant magazine, the 9th best restaurant in the world. There are few things that need to be said about either Thomas Keller or Per Se. Both need no introduction. Better writers than I have described Keller’s skills, talent and passion in print and on the web marvelously. If you are one of the 4 persons on earth who hasn’t heard of Thomas Keller, pick up a copy of Michael Ruhlman’s The Soul of a Chef; a section of the book is devoted to telling this kitchen-magician’s story. Per Se is Keller’s New York outpost and one of only three three-Michelin-starred restaurants in the city.

Per Se is beautiful. From the moment you enter, you feel like you’re in a different world (which is a trait of some of the other, great three-star restaurants we’ve been to). Everything from the service to the interiors to the dining accessories are so perfectly polished and elegant. Upon sitting down, we were offered some Champagne, which we immediately accepted. And thus began a four and a half hour gastronomic extravaganza. The food was exceptional. The service was brilliant and we had three great bottles of wine. All I can really say about Per Se is that you must visit. Do whatever it takes to get one of their coveted reservations; it is an experience worth having and savoring. I’ve decided that instead of trying to describe every course (which would be a repetitive exercise of me writing, “yummy”, “sexy”, “delicious”, “gorgeous”, “witty”, and “brilliant” a dozen different times), it would be simpler to simply list what I ate (I say “I” because S and our dining companion J had slightly different things on their menu). I’ve also numbered the courses that are pictured (and grouped them) so you can easily refer to the pictures on this post.

1. Sweet carrot soup with plumped sultanas. 2. “Oysters and Pearls” – Sabayon of pearl tapioca with island creek oysters and sterling white sturgeon caviar. (Not pictured) Shad roe “porridge” with shaved bonito and lime salt. 3. White truffle oil-infused custard with ragout of perigord truffles. 4. Salad of caramelized belgian endive with banana brulee, radicchio tardivo and coriander “gastrique”.


5. Crispy skin fillet of black bass, sweet pepper, fennel bulb and sunchoke hash with nicoise olive petals and “sauce rouille”. 6. Pan roasted atlantic sea scallop with wild asparagus, garlic scapes, california green almonds and petite lettuces. 7. “Cervelle de veau” with herb spatzle, roasted parsnip “batons” and mustard seed-veal jus. 8. Rib-eye of marcho farm’s nature fed veal, hand-rolled “cavatelli”, garbanzo beans, thumbelina carrots, tokyo turnips and oven roasted roma tomatoes and “sauce noilly prat”.


9. “Abbaye de tamie” with celery root remoulade, white wine poached bartlett pear and celery seed “aigre-doux”. 10. Strawberry sorbet with black pepper “sable breton”, “pate de fruits” and saporoso “nuage”. 11. “Snickers bar”, milk chocolate “cremeux”, chocolate “sacher” and salted caramel gelee with spanish peanut “nougatine” and nougat ice cream. 12. “Coffee and doughnuts”, cinnamon-sugared doughnuts with cappucino semifreddo.

Per Se, Time Warner Center, 10 Columbus Circle, New York
Tel: +1 (212) 823-9335, Web:

About Aun Koh

Aun has always loved food and travel, passions passed down to him from his parents. This foundation, plus a background in media, pushed him to start Chubby Hubby in 2005. He loves that this site allows him to write about the things he adores--food, style, travel, his wife and his three kids!


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9 May 2007


Great photos! Per Se is #1 on my list when I go to NY (hopefully later this year). Few questions. Does it feel awkward taking food pics in a fancy restaurant? Also, do you have a great memory or how do you get the dish names so accurately? I’m not a food blogger, but would love the pics and/or dish names for my own reference but don’t know a good way going about it.

GT: For this trip, I ditched the SLR and brought only a new compact point and shoot (the Lumix DMC-LX2 from Panasonic) because I wanted something more discrete. I also turned off all sounds, so there’s no noise when I take pictures. The Lumix is great because I can control my aperture, film speed, white balance, etc, just as I would with my SLR. As for remembering the food, I usually either write down the dishes or ask for a menu. In this case, I asked for a copy of the menu 😉

Excellent! brilliant and sharp picture. You even go to the extend to numbered the photos. Thanks for the effort!

gargh. skipped per se for jean georges when i was in NY last dec, now i regret it. food at JG was so-so, and your meal per se looks like it was worth every penny. :

I’ve got the same question as GT there. I was recently at Nobu Milan and was very very concious in taking picture for my own documentation even with the compact. So I guess it’s just down to courage.

PS: my favourite is the deconstructed snickers bar. So inventive!

Cookwithlove: Most welcome. Thanks for the kind words.

Rachel: Well, no you have something to look forward to on your next visit. I ate at JG when it first opened years ago and really enjoyed it.

Venny: I should add that 90% of the time I do ask the manager or my waiter/waitress if it is okay if I “take a few pictures of my food (and only my food) for personal reference”. So long as you aren’t disturbing other guests, they’re usually okay with it. Regarding dessert, I was thrilled that they served me the coffee and doughnuts. I loooooove that dish.

Wow – wish that I could get there – only had the chance to eat at the French Laundry but no other Keller restaurants. Love your blog – been following it for over a year but just saw an article on your blog in Delicious magazine! Congrats.

Wow, wow, wow – what a meal! I don’t know what impresses me more, the gorgeous photos or the fact that you were able to restrain yourself from diving headfirst into each course long enough to actually take them. It sounds like you two are having one heck of a great time on this odyssey of yours!

p.s. Great interview in this month’s delicious!

Great photos, Aun! I thought you took them with your Nikon. I’ve heard rave reviews about the Lumix but it’s nothing like seeing the actual results. How was the light in the restaurant?

Incredible photographs! They are truly works of art. This is a perfect example of where the gorgeous presentation of an exceptional chef and the skillful talent of the photographer create a whole much greater than the sum of its parts.

Came to know about Thomas Keller and The French Laundry in Anthony Bourdain’s show. He looks like a no-nonsense and impeccable kind of person (as most chefs are). So, surprised to see that pictures are allowed, and even a copy of menu is given =). His creativity makes his dishes like work of art. He even created a dish with tobacco in it, specially for AB whose blood has been infused with nicotine ;).

OK, A & S, I just need to “hate” you guys for 2 seconds for Per Se’s sake (because it’s THE restaurant that I really wanted to go but haven’t!).


It’s been said, but gorgeous photos. Wonderfully respectful of you to be so discreet, but still producing fantastic final shots. Well done. These look like studio shots, rather than mid-meal.

The photos are gorgeous! I like taking pictures of food in restaurants as well but mine are usually too dark or overexposed (when I use the flash).

Did you use the flash for these pictures?

dude! the photos totally rawk!
i’m wondering though what that purple cabbage looking thing is…it looks like a purple endive but i can’t be sure…can you confirm it for me?

A memorable experience!!! Try to go a bit early and have a cocktail in the lounge. They make their own tonic (for those g&t fans).

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