I’m betting my bottom dollar that most of you dudes and dudettes are fans of the Masterchef series.
How awesome was Heston’s Blumenthal’s week long appearance on Masterchef? I hope none of you missed out the fun-filled molecular themed episodes – with lots of liquid nitrogen, dry ice, spherications, smokes, etc. That particular episode on ‘Medieval Feast’ with the ‘vegetable patch’ reminded me that I have not blogged about my degustation dinner at Mandarin Grill + Bar in Hong Kong a couple of months ago.
Date of Visit: June 2 2013
Mandarin Grill + Bar is a 1-Michelin stared restaurant in Hong Kong synonymous for decadent dining – delicious food, sophisticated ambience, fantastic service, arty food presentation – all for HK$1,588+10% per person for the degustation. A dress code is in force. All men must wear a jacket and keep it on at all time. No torn ripped jeans even the designer ones. (Anyone remember Marc Jacobs’ kilts fiasco? He was refused entry to a restaurant because he contravened the restaurant’s dress code by wearing a ‘skirt’? It made news – and some noise!)
The gastronomy at Mandarin Grill + Bar has enough neologisms and touches of creativity to convince the most discerning food critic and yet mom would still be happy with the landings in front of her. Since I was hosting dinner for 6 on that night, I used my Samsung Note to take these quick blurry snaps and relied on my memory of the highlights of the night – so apologies for the horrible photos and sketchy food notes.
Under the guidance of the sommelier, my guest chose a Kabinett Riesling and a Nuits Saint Georges for dinner. I liked the French Burgundy, but found the German Riesling slightly too sweet as I refer drier varietals.
With our wines ordered, menus collected and everyone at the table comfortably settled, the waiters brought out a potted olive bonsai plant. A bit puzzling at first until the waiter said to imagine eating the spherifed olives under the olive tree. Visual aid is said to evoke our memory center in our brains which works by enhancing the flavour receptors in our taste buds hence making the corresponding food taste better. To be honest, I cannot remember how the spherified olives tasted like… The key of making ‘olives out of olives’ is to find olives that have a great quality juice that tastes great, here is a link of a tutorial by Ferran Adrian.
The melt-in-your-mouth gougères rolled in parmesan cheese (presented in a Mandarin tin box) and olive gougères on the other hand, were heavenly, I distinctively remember the sweet buttery aroma of cheeses in the crumbly gougères.
The warm soft breads were fresh out of the oven. A trolley of 5 types of olive oils were wheeled to our table. The waitress explained in detail the flavours and nuances of each type of oil hailing from different countries. I think I chose the French, although in hindsight, I should have chosen ‘Lambda’ from Greece, the world’s most expensive olive oil (read here)
The presentation of a Flower Pot for each of the diners marks the 1st course. It was accompanied by the ceremonial watering of the plant with a tea infusion from a watering-can! Inside the Flower pot was a small garden patch of herbs and sous-vided root vegetables stuck in a creamy concoction and edible soil. This was quite similar to the Masterchef contests’ vegetable garden whereby they used egg mayonnaise (for earth), topped with chopped-up dried olives and nuts for make-believe edible soil. I am not sure whether the same ingredients were used for the pot, but the pot was exceptionally divine – a bit too heavy and filling though.
Salmon and Caviar
I am assuming that the caviar was of the sustainable farmed varietal. Because I nipped off to the Ladies (there was an attendant stationed there to hand me a hand towel after I had washed my hands), I didn’t realise that we had to share a tin between 2 people. I only realised later when I had a good half of it. I think there was lobster boursin under the bed of caviar. It was very delicious. My apologies to my guest, but since she had recently attended a lavish wedding reception, she told me, that she has had enough of her share from the humongous bowl of caviar that is so de rigueur in Hong Kong society weddings nowadays.
The hedonistic salmons came out in style, smoking on a bed of herbs/hay. This is smoked-cured-salmon-heaven and very good!
5 slices of tender juicy beef arranged in a circle around different types of mushrooms, (and a piece of dehydrated mushroom) on a heavy timber board- the waiter gave us a tall-tale of “cows roaming in the woods”. Really? We all thought that the story-line could be improved with “deers roaming in the forest”. Whoever heard of cows in woods anyway? This came accompanied with mash potatoes and spinach
By the time, the cheese trolley rolled over. We were stuffed and had to wait for 20 minutes to digest before we can proceed any further.
We were served 17 types of Cheeses. Again, each piece of cheese was explained in detail by the cheese sommelier. We had some crackers, honey and pastes to go with our cheeses.
I had a Light Bulb for dessert! Really?! Yup, the light bulb was made of spun sugar and filled with coconut foam and paired with a quenelle of mango ice cream and a chocolate filament for extra panache.
The grand finale was the petit fours.
This is melt-in-your-mouth chocolate truffles presented on Mandarin Oriental’s signature edible chocolate ‘madolins’. I tried to scrap some chocolate bits off to try, but it was rock-solid hard. Better not risk a trip to the dentist, right? I should have asked for a doggie-bag too…
All-in-all a fantastic 4-hours dinner. A bit Downton Abbey-ish, served in full silver service.
I might have missed the Art Basel 2013 and the special menu designed in conjunction with it, but nevertheless, there is always next year. Here is a link to the astoundingly specially created menu here *Food Porn*