Eating ‘Dirt’ at Asia’s #1 Resto! @ Narisawa

Date of Visit: February 25 2013

A spot of experimental French-Japanese dining à la Narisawa-style. Reservations was too easy – hop online, fill in your details, pick your date and remember to reconfirm a week before.

The resto is in a up-market suburb of Aoyama, very easy to find. Since we were early, we checked out the hood. Walking around the suburban vernacular of precast concrete, we spotted design firms and GA Japan masterpieces. Continue reading

Just An Average Nick @RyuGin Tokyo

Date of Visit: February 26 2013 (Early Spring Menu)

In stark contrast to its offshoot’s glamorous location in Hong Kong (my review here), Nihonryori RyuGin‘s location in Tokyo is more subdued, in a residential back street off Roppongi. Roppongi was a sleezy area frequented by American GIs in the 60s before Mr Mori took the punt to redevelop the area and almost went under during the Japanese Asset Bubble. Lucky for him, his gamble paid off and now Roppongi is a thriving metropolis in Tokyo.

With an impressive string of accolades, namely 3 Michelin stars and being in S. Pellegrino’s List of World’s Top 50 Restaurants (determined by the water the restaurant sells, methinks), booking for a degustation dinner at RyuGin is very strict – starting at 11:30am on the 1st of the preceding month. However, if you are a late diner, you may be able to book in for their à la carte after 9:30pm. Continue reading

Liberty Private Works

(A scheduled post from the Chica currently on a month-long luncheon in Japan)

Date of Visit: February 18 2013

I booked Liberty Private Works (LPW) a month before I arrived Hong Kong. Booking was super-easy as it’s all done via online booking and the restaurant will email you with confirmation, followed up by 2 more phone confirmations – the week before and on the day. Getting a seating on your prefered date is a different matter. I did a Google search and found that this is the Top Restaurant in Hong Kong. The seats are very coverted since the establishment is operated in the ‘private kitchen style’, i.e. limited seating of around 26 persons per night organised in 2 seatings – 7:30pm and 8:30pm.

The menu is a set degustation menu costing $HK800+10%. Wine pairing will set you back further for HK$680+10%. We opted for a bottle of Spanish red instead. The wine list is very well curated with New World wines as well as the Old Worlds, I would suggest you to peruse the wine list online before you go for dinner – if you prefer reds, choose a lighter style wines (my 2-cents)

Chefs at work...Plating up with precision... and utmost concentration

Chefs at work…Plating up with precision… and utmost concentration

Munching on the lavash with guacalmole dips while waiting for the 8:30pm start

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Lavash with Guacamole

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The highly prized truffle in the glass cake-stand

AMUSE BOUCHE: Octopus terrine, balsamic (black dots) & pepper (red dots) reductions, cute circular cabbage leaf, cheese croquette, triangular pepper. Very delectable…

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Amuse Bouche of Octpus Terrine

ONE (Seafood): The chef suggested that we start from the left with the frozen grape and finish on the right. The espelette gave a spicy kick that lingers. After eating the last frozen grapes, I can really feel the espelette kicking in, warming my belly

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Tuna, Sea urchin, Espelette, Rice

Close up of the sea urchin and tuna. Can you see the caviar and gold leaf? The puff rice was very crunchy and tasted slightly vanillin… some childhood memories perhaps – munching on puff-rice crackers, anyone?

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TWO (Seafood): This course came on a very hot stone-slate plate. Because I’m allegic to shellfish, I got 2 pieces of the pumpkin ravioli instead of the lobster. (The lobster was apparently quite chewy and tough). The foam is coconut reduction. There was a suprise in store – I found a piece of seaweed under all the trappings. I love the green endame and yellow sago beads

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Lobster, Chorizo, Pumpkin, Coconut

THREE (Seafood): What beautiful presentation! Ponzu jelly in cubes, dots of yogurt, fennel, tiny nectarine bits, sous vide salmon and sweet oyster

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Salmon, Oyster, Nectarine, Fennel Yogurt

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Mine – but without the oyster

FOUR: This is a rather difficult dish to make, since the egg is poached inside the ravioli. Boy-O-Boy, delicious! I stuck the warm baguette to break the egg and wipe down the plate to soak up all the yolk and sauces – let’s spare the dishwasher boy the trouble, I say…

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Egg, Truffle, Parmesan, Caviar

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Spear the egg with the baguette

FIVE: The foam is from the essense of ham and fowl. There’s chargrilled brussel sprout leaves, daikon, thick ‘vegemitey’ truffles sauce

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Guinea Hen, Winter Black Truffle, Iberico Ham, Pear

Pulled fowl under the ham

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What’s under the Ham?

SIX: This is a fun dish. It kind of reminds me of my breakfast muesli with coco nibs. Venison is cooked in 2 ways: Venison steak cooked medium-rare and venison sausage. There’s a mint inside the sausage – another suprise? Cute! The pickled onion compliments the cherries, one whets the appetite, the other sweetens it.
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Venison, Cherry, Cocoa, Muesli

SEVEN (Dessert): THIS IS THE HIGHLIGHT!!

Each dessert plate is done very artistically and not one looked the same!

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Korean Strawberry, Tomato, Mascarpone, Rosemary

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Tomato with a suprise stuffing inside (not telling) and basil seeds

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Closer look

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Ice-cream, mochi with condensed milk filling

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The final product – crackling of liquid nitrogen

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EIGHT: Taking the Cantonese spin with fried milk – and healthful bee pollen and honey to soothe the body… interesting. The fried milk was very ceamy and milky which I absolutely loved

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Fried Milk, Saffron, Manuka Honey, Bee Pollen

PETIT FOURS: The clock is striking midnight and I have to catch the last MTR back to the dark-side… All-in-all, a very fun, interesting and tasty experience. Yes, I will be back! Most defo!

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Petit Fours: Mini Madelaines

 

Quay Restaurant

Wow! After 3 years of dreaming the famous Snow Egg from MasterChef, I finally got to savour it! Did Peter Gilmore float my boat? Read on!
*******

Date of Visit: January 23, 2013

The Quay Restaurant at Circular Quay is No.29th in S.Pellegrino’s World Top 50 Restaurant (2012). It is the only Australasian restaurant included in the ranking. To get a table at Quay for a party of 2 to 4 would need at least 3 months reservation, however, because we are a party of over 5 people, we got a table with relative ease.

Since we entertaining guests from overseas, we look for location and accolades. What is a more iconic setting than the night time views over the waters of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge? Fret not, the cruise liner parked at the Overseas Terminal usually sets sail around 6:30pm – but do enquire when you make reservation.

The decor of the restaurant is nothing to gush home. Blue carpet, mirrors on the ceiling and walls. The bar looked rather nice, except when I looked closer, it’s just a drinks prep area. AnywaZ, I was given the honour to choose the wine for the table. Since I’m an adventurous drinker, I chose a white and a red varietal from Portugal:
2010 Dona Paterna (Alvarinho), Vinho Verde A$80 – floral varietal akin to sav blanc but with more weight
2006 Niepoort Vertente (D.O.C Douro), Douro Valley A$128 – light chocolate cherry, smooth with some age

I am very pleased with my choosing. I must say that the wine list is very good and easy to navigate, perfectly structured with international selections in magnums and half bottles too.

Our table decided on the 4-course dinner menu (A$165).

FIRST UP

Amuse bouche was goat’s curd, tomato, crunchy fennel seed – my taste bud is getting tickled… loving the texture…mmm… looks like the stage is set for a rather fine meal.

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Amuse Bouche

Just being a country bumpkin here, got to take pics of everything including butter and salt for the bread! LOL

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ONE

My choice of salad did not disappoint. See how beautifully it was presented? Sweet juicy cherries, tangy beets and smooth creaminess of the creme fraiche are beautifully balanced with savoury ‘toffeeish’ crunchy croutons

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Salad of preserved wild cherries,
albino and chioggia beetroots, radish, crème fraîche, violets

Beautiful presentation

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Fragrant poached chicken,
white radish, sea scallops, smoked eggplant cream, pea blossoms

Bugs Bunny’s Delight

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Carrot seedlings, white lentils,
almonds, Reggiano emulsion, cumin, daylilies, Job’s tears, coriander flowers

TWO

This is where service falls short… 3 persons at our table (including me) ordered squid without thinking that the squid will be replaced by scampi tonight. We thought that it was only for the tasting menu. So a mistake was made when the waiter who took the order did not clarify with us again that squid is also off the 4-course menu when we ordered ‘squid’ (and I had also informed the waiter than I am allergic to shellfish!). In my opinion, a restaurant of this calibre, should simply reprint the menu. How much does an A6 reflex paper cost?

Back to the story…When the replacement scampi arrived, I could immediately smell that it’s crustacean which I am highly allergic to. (And if I can smell crustacean, it only means that it is not fresh, that’s how sensitive my nose is!) A little disagreement ensued with the waiter who brought out the dishes…yadda..yadda… to cut the story short, the waiter should have just removed the plate and not argue with the client! Duh?!

Picture of the wrong order: My source told me that the scampi was ‘mushy’ no ‘crunchy freshness’

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Scampi, squid ink custard, society garlic, pink turnips

I’m happy with my replacement. It looks fancy. Puffed quinoa and nuts on the thinly sliced squail (master knife-work here). The brioche came across as dry. Since I can never ever taste truffles no many how many times I have tried, it is perplexing to me why truffles are so highly regarded.

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Coturnix quail, farro, hazelnuts, quinoa,
steamed truffle brioche, egg yolk confit, Vin Jaune cream

THREE

Look at the tiny onions! Too cute to eat. But the rice in broth was a tad too salty for me

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Korean green rice,
mountain spinach, barletta onions, green radish
asparagus, chestnut mushrooms

Dining source’s comment on the lamb was that it was sinewy and not ‘that great’

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Suffolk lamb loin,
eggplant skin and olive purée, sheeps milk crème fraîche,
fresh and preserved flowers

Looks like a chocolate cake. Dining source’s comment was that the beef was bland. Oh well… course THREE was only so-so.

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Poached Rangers Valley beef,
bitter chocolate black pudding,
morel, ezekiel crumbs, shaved mushrooms

FOUR

Dessert time! This is THE moment!

Eight texture chocolate cake is the latest signature dessert of Quay. The 8th texture was actually the hot choc sauce served at the table. (Note it melting in the middle). It was a very rich and powerful – me likey!

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Eight texture chocolate cake

What it looks like in cross-section. Check out the DIY video here.

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Eight texture chocolate cake

This is the moment I have been waiting for! MY Snow Egg arriveth! Apparently, they change the flavours seasonally. They have done jackfruit and guava previously. The process of making the Snow Egg is highly technical. Ice-cream inside lightly poached meringue and encrusted with very thin caramel, resting on cherry granita with bits of dehydrated coconut. Check out the DIY video here

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Cherry and coconut snow egg

What was my verdict of the Snow Egg? I liked the presentation but apart from the cherry and coconut granita, I couldn’t remember what was the flavour of the supposed yolk, and whether it should be ice-cream or cream since it was a sludge when I cracked open the egg.

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Cherry and coconut snow egg

I saw people from the next table having the ‘Jersey cream, salted caramel, prunes, walnuts, ethereal sheets’, also on the dessert menu. The presentation looked ‘deconstructive’ with the sheets wedging into the cream and sorts. I’m sure it must be delish too!

Finally, some chocky with our nightcap

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Petit Fours – extra A$10 with coffee/ tea

So, did Peter Gilmore float my boat? Needless to say, the presentations rocked and the techniques involved in the desserts could not be faulted. Unfortunately, for the main meals, there are other places that offers better. If I am coming back, it will definitely be for the desserts.

Degustation menu (updated)

Degustation menu

Degustation menu

FYI and comparison sake, do check out Andy Hayler’s review here.

Quay on Urbanspoon