Saturday, April 14, 2012
Last Saturday I had a meal that changed my life. I can honestly say it was the most magnificent dining experience I have ever had. Sitting in the dining room of KAI in Phoenix, Arizona I felt as though the whole world stopped as I enjoyed every bite of the 5 course meal.
It began when we were greeted with cleansing lime, cucumber and passion fruit shots (no alcohol mind you). I immediately felt at ease. I relaxed even more as I sipped my vodka soda with a splash of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice. I was dining with my boyfriend and his family. We were seated at a central table and immediately greeted by Feliciano and his team of waiters. He gave us a mesmerizing introduction to the restaurant and the dining experience as a whole. Then menus were brought to us, each decorated with its own hand-painted watercolor image. Every menu tells a story of the culture of the Native Americans that inspire the cuisine of KAI (which means seed in their language.)
The chef sent an amuse bouche of fruit gelee on a buckwheat cookie. Then Colin and I shared a magnificent appetizer, called the beginning at KAI. It was escargot, truffle, wild mushrooms and caramel goat cheese. When they served it they placed a frozen yogurt strip made of goat cheese on top. It melted into rich succulent goodness. Paired with a buttery french toast I gave the plate a moment of silence just to revere the chef and his magic. Colin's mom ordered the Lobster, Pumpkin and Mesquite Grilled Squash Bisque as her beginner. They did a table side presentation where they lit sambuca on fire to caramelize a marshmallow garnish and then poured the broth on top. Colin's sister did not order an appetizer but was brought a sugar cone with goat cheese, the perfect bite.
The beginning was followed with a light lavender sorbet which cleansed the palette. It was like swallowing serenity. I have never tasted food that calmed me as much as the cuisine at this genuine Native American restaurant. While we waited on our entrees, we ordered a bottle of Pinot Noir from Archery Summit vineyards in Oregon. By far, the most luscious wine I have ever tasted.
As our entrees came all at once, we were once again blown away by both presentation and service. Feliciano performed yet another table side presentation, ladling a rich Gruyere cheese sauce over my Potpourri of Butter Basted Lobster, Guaymas Shrimp and Diver Scallops. It was served over black threads of pasta, braised heirloom tomatoes, ham hock bits and crispy shallots. Then doused with cauliflower and leek butter. In one word, heaven. The sweetness of the shellfish was enhanced with the rich cheese sauce and complimented by the tang of tomatoes. Everyone's entrees were phenomenal, especially Colin's Grilled Tenderloin of Tribal Buffalo which had a spicy earthy rub and paired with smoked corn puree, cholla buds, Merquez sausage, scarlet runner bean chili and Saguaro blossom syrup.
The menu is so original and complex. Every ingredient of each item tells a story and reflects on the culture of the city. The dining experience truly felt like a journey, ending with sweet, succulent truffles that melted in your mouth. I had one dusted with chili powder and one simple milk chocolate delight.
We left the restaurant relaxed, satisfied and amazed at the meal we just experienced.