By Nicole Danna
By Sara Ventiera
By Candace West
By Emily Dabau
By Doug Fairall
By Candace West
By Laine Doss
By Sara Ventiera
Five wok-seared Fire foods made up the smallest grouping of dishes, but these, too, were deftly handled. Pad Thai contained numerous truly jumbo shrimp, firm and moist, tangled with rice noodles, bean sprouts, chopped peanuts, scrambled egg, purple basil, and just the right amount of spices to give the palate a stimulating kick. We passed up the fiery temptresses of shrimp in curry coconut sauce and lobster lo mein with ginger-tamarind sauce, settling instead on seared ginger beef, a generous plateful of thick, tender, medium-rare slices of succulent tenderloin and bright stir-fried asparagus, red peppers, and red onions in a thin, zesty brown sauce. Alas, the promised "crispy sweet potatoes" were feeble threads that lay limply atop the beef. To use a baseball expression, "There goes the perfect game."
The Earth section brought additional alluring choices, like steamed sea bass (Earth??) with soy-ginger glaze, tempura pork tenderloin with sweet and sour sauce, Vietnamese roasted chicken with lemongrass-chili sauce, and a Peking duck for two carved tableside. We went with two filets of panko-breaded chicken breast, crisply fried and stacked with stir-fried vegetables in a pool of wildflower honey-lemon sauce. The contrasting of sweet and hot ingredients is something at which this kitchen excels, never losing the balance between the two. Side dishes of steamed broccoli with oyster sauce and wok-fried green beans with shiitake mushrooms, sweet chili sauce, and roasted peanuts are other Earth picks, as are a sticky rice with corn, peas, mushrooms, and coconut milk and a version of fried rice -- not too salty, not greasy in the least -- with teeny dice of barbecued pork, baby shrimp, eggs, scallions, and ginger.
Desserts are uniquely inventive, especially the "Asian study of chocolate," which dazzles with fried, frozen, hot, cold, crunchy, soft, fruity, and nutty dark and white chocolate -- woo boy! More specifically: warm chocolate cake with an oozy liquid center; cherry truffle wrapped in rice paper and quickly deep-fried; frozen white-chocolate- and-pistachio ice cream topped with an almond truffle; and a tropical fruit slaw of mango, Asian pear, pomegranate, vanilla, mint, and Thai basil in a chocolate cup. The crème brûlée sampler tosses out just as many flavors, like chocolate cashew, mango lime, vanilla jasmine, mandarin orange, and raspberry/rose tea. A trio of sorbets and a medley of tropical-fruit dim sum dish out even more intriguing tastes, and just to cover all the bases, a duo of soufflés is offered as well.
Echo, in Greek mythology, was a nymph whose unrequited love for Narcissus caused her to pine away until nothing but her voice remained. I, on the other hand, am losing my writing voice after praising Echo the restaurant in paragraph after paragraph. Judging from the difficulty in securing a reservation, it seems that other diners echo these sentiments. Let's hope FSMI's aforementioned experience prevents the sterling qualities of the place from tarnishing with time. If they can manage that, there's no reason Echo won't continue to be a resounding success resounding success resounding success.