Chef Bernard Guillas on his Ocean Trilogy at the Marine Room
Saffron and chili aioli Guillas call them “the decorations”
It’s no accident that Japanese citrus is in the Marine Room’s lobster bisque, or Hong Kong’s famed XO seafood sauce is on its Alaskan halibut.
The La Jolla restaurant’s glob-trotting executive chef, Bernard Guillas, is a master at stuffing his suitcases with Asian ingredients and dreaming up in-season fusions.
“I always try to create an experience, something people will be able to remember,” says Guillas.
Here’s this summer’s most popular appetizer — “We cannot take it off the menu” — served at the shoreline-adjacent Marine Room.
Ocean Trilogy Tasting with Vanilla Lobster, Ahi Tartare and Pompano Sashimi, $19
About the overall dish: Eaten with hands, knives and forks, this seafood trio was designed to “create a journey of all the senses,” Guillas says. “I wanted to keep it fresh, and I really love that Asian approach, that Asian flair. But in the meantime I didn’t want to stay Asian-only, either.”
“It really rocks,” the ever-enthusiastic native Frenchman says of this lobster tail. “It’s really classic French.” Wrapped in leeks, the lobster meat is seasoned with togarashi (a Japanese chili-based condiment) and vanilla bean, cooked sous-vide style, chilled, then cut into perfect medallions. “In France, a lot of vanilla (is) used, because we had the island of Tahiti — where you should go on vacation because it’s beautiful blue water.”
Ahi tuna tartare
Finely diced, raw ahi tuna gets coated with an uni vinaigrette made from local sea urchin. About the Marine Room’s menu, Guillas says, “It’s modern, it’s global. We are bringing ingredients from all over the world, yet it’s very local because I work with farmers markets and Specialty Produce.”
“It’s sashimi, so that’s sort of Japanese as well, but when you look at it we do poisson cru,” which is a raw fish specialty in Tahiti. Here, the raw organic pompano, a white fish, is sliced thin, served atop a lemon-myrtle/
The sesame cone
“It’s like a cookie, but there’s no sugar,” says Guillas, who creates this cone-shaped tuile out of miso, sesame, a little egg white and flour, and Taiwanese plum powder he found traveling abroad. The cone gets filled with microgreens, Spanish trout caviar and the ahi tuna tartare. “I wanted to bring a little bit of that crunch so you have a very different texture and flavor in the mouth. A little bit of that sour, a little bit of that sweet, the salt from the miso. It’s really, really amazing.”