The Elegance of Hiro Sone – My Favorite Chef

Chef Hiro Sone makes a tartine of foie gras stuffed morels

Recently, while sipping a Van Gogh’s Revenge—a cocktail of Bols Aged Genever, Cointreau, Yellow Chartreuse and Angostura bitters served neat in a bucket glass, the Cute Gardener and I had a conversation about our favorite chefs. We were sitting in Ame in the San Francisco St. Regis eating the most elegant food of my life and I knew hands down that Chef Hiro Sone was my man.

What criteria make a great chef in my eyes? There are the obvious things required for stellar food like the ability to coax great taste, layer flavors, mingle interesting textures and create gorgeous presentations on the plate. But the dishes that become truly memorable for me are the ones which are seemingly simple yet excruciatingly complex. They emit an air of elegance that reflects a chef’s voice and passion in an unerringly consistent fashion. Hire Sone has all of the above.

I first tried his food at the St. Helena restaurant Terra where I encountered an apple basteeya that made my mouth cry, topping off dish after exquisite dish where creativity abounded. Ame was no different, our choices veering towards the sublimely Japanese offerings that included bites of delicate fish in poignant broth; droplets of yuzu on tender vegetables, an ethereal chawan mushi custard, soft fried oysters swimming in earthy dashi and beignets black pepper infused crème fraiche for dessert.

I will let the following photographs of the dishes speak for themselves.


Broiled Sake Marinated Alaskan Black Bod and Shrimp Dumplings in Shiso Broth


Grilled Maine Lobster Tail, Hokkaido Scallops and Cuttlefish on Risotto Nero with Sauce Americaine and Yuzu Kosho Aioli


“Kaisen” Sashimi Salad with Japanese Cucumber, Hijiki, Tobiko Caviar and Yuzu Soy Vinaigrette


Tempura of Miyagi Oysters in Dashi Broth with Wakame Seaweed, Grated Daikon and Trout Roe


“Chawan-Mushi” Japanese Savory Custard with Lobster, Sea Urchin, Shiitake and Mitsuba Sauce

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