Date of Visit: August 24 2015
When I discovered that a 3 Michelin Star chef is opening a pop-up in Kuala Lumpur, I was very excited! Perfect timing for a birthday celebration! The pop-up is only in operation for 88 days. thus it’s called Aziamendi88👍. It occupies the Mandarin Grill at the Mandarin Oriental, KL (my review of a prior visit here).
Eneko Atxa is Spain’s youngest ever 3 Michelin Star Chef and has recently been voted 19th Top Chef in the World by San Pellegrino. Mind you, he designed the menu at the pop-up, but not the actual cook!
Well-advertised: Basque chef Eneko Atxa
Unfortunately, dinner slots on the day we wanted were booked solid, so we had lunch instead – after a lot of annoying phone calls from the restaurant to confirm our reservation, we rocked up promptly to secure our lunch at noon, to find the restaurant was not yet opened! 😁 It was also the first time I have been asked by a restaurant if I am sure about my 8-course lunch menu! Pfftt…
Whatever…Naturally, I had a high expectation of the the chef’s creativity and the MO’s service!
When we finally accessed the restaurant, we were led to a mock garden where we were served some amuse bouches before entering the main dining room. (The jungle feel of the waiting area brought memories of the now defunct ‘Rainforest Cafe’ in Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong where we used to go very often when I was little😄).
Mock-garden: Loved the sensory experience as well…smell of fresh of hay..😃
Once seated on the park bench, we were handed a 8-course Dinner Menu 😳. Caught by surprise with the mistake, I queried the waitress, apparently the 8-course dinner menu is same as 8-course lunch – so hence recycling of the dinner menu for lunch! Join the green crusades, dudes! 🌳🌳 👏
Amuse Bouches, aptly called ‘Picnic‘ on the Menu was served in the Picnic Basket while we waited. There were 3 types of amuse bouches: Anchovy Mille Feuille, Corn Toast & Caviar and Mojito Bon Bon.
We were advised to start with the Anchovy Mille Feuille: Crisp crackers sandwiched with the briny tang of anchovy paste decorated with red local pine leaves, looking cute like little butterflies. Then moving onto Corn Toast: Black corn toast with caviar, fish roe and mayonnaise whipped with sea urchin.
Anchovy Mille Feuille, Corn Toast and Caviar
For the finale, the fragile Mojito Bon Bon literally pops in the mouth giving an alcoholic rush of minty-tangy enjoyment.
Mojito Bon Bon: Can’t remember the dusting on top 😟
1: Bonsai Tree
A huge Bonsai Tree was waiting at our table, hmm… the presentation looks familiar, our minds race to Aronia Takazawa where we had the pleasure of dining in Toyko a couple of years ago. (review here)
Hanging on the tree were 3 cherry tomatoes, one for each of us. The firm tomatoes flooded our mouths with juicy sweet liquid flood. It was clever to take out the inside of the cherry tomato to replace it with a mixture of tomato and fruit juices. It was absolutely delightful! By far, the best cherry tomato I had ever tasted! 🙌
We finished off the 1st course with brown crackers with a sweet-earthy-savoury chew akin to beef jerky – ‘wood bark chip‘.
2: Truffled Egg
First the egg yolk was removed. The yolk then infused with hot truffle jus then re-injected into the original membrane, hence cooking the egg inside out. We swooped it in one mouthful, expecting a warm burst of truffled yolky flavour, but it was cold and gamey…no hint of truffles…hmmm…
More to our expectation was the steamed milk bun served from a dimsum bamboo basket. it was hot, fluffy and very delicious especially with the dense and aromatic spanish olive oil.
Steamed Milk Bun
There’s wine pairing available, but we opted to choose a bottle of red instead. We were happy with our choice of an easy to drink Tempranillo from Rueda within a reasonable price-point (RM268)
3: The Garden
Edible soil has been around for a while now, so nothing new for me. There are 2 parts to this creation: ‘Soil’ was made from dehydrated beetroots and later adorned with miniature carrot, sweet peas, tomato, cauliflower, broccoli and zucchini. ‘Earth’ was the sweet jelly tomato-orange emulsion. Very pretty presentation, which I ate gleefully with my spoon.
Earth: Tomato Jelly
Paired with the soft sweet corn bread.
4: Foie Gras Ashes from the Grill
A bit of ceremony here, first I was given a wet towel, then my place was set with a black napkin. I really loved the presentation of this course, although eating it was very messy. The frozen foie gras paste sits on top of a toasted brioche and covered with foie gras shavings possibly mixed with ashes or squid ink (my guess 😜) It was hard to eat because the brioche we hard and tough to chew. In the end I had to use the towel to wipe my face and fingers – I was really messy. 😝
Foie Gras Ashes from the Grill
Pretty… the local pine flowers made the grey lump looks like a dressed-up porcupine resting on a branch!
Accompanied with Spelt Bread.
5: Squid Noodles with its own Crunchy Juice
First came the dish with squid topped with 3 slices of pickled onions.
Then local fish roe and a croquette of squid ink and juice.
Squid ink and juice Croquettes and a teaspoonful of Local fish roe.
Then the unctuously thick broth was poured over the squid noodles.
We start with the fish roe, then move onto to squid noodles and then the croquettes. Nice dish, but the broth was too salty for me… plus it was cold.
6: Grilled Tuna, Fried Eggs, Marmitako and Flowers
I had no idea what ‘marmitako‘ was, so I googled – it’s basically a tuna pot or fish stew eaten by the fishermen in the Basque country. What we had was the modified version of a thick, salty soup.
Modified Marmitako with Tuna Sashimi and Crisp
The soup was followed by the cold grilled tuna, it was tough, salty and fishy … good thing is that it sits atop the sweet pureed cauliflower… I could use that to tone down the fishy saltiness! 😜. Although the 2 fried balls were fried egg yolks, i thought the runny centre was cauliflower pureé! Whatever… I liked the pretty pickled flower petals!
Grilled Tuna, Fried Eggs, Marmitako and Flowers
7: Lamb Shoulder, Pesto, Parmesan and Pine Nuts
The last savoury course was the very disappointing lamb shoulder sandwiched between 2 thin sheets of pastry with a micro salad garden on top. The lamb shoulder was tough, raising suspicions that it was reheated from last night’s dinner. In any regards, the liquid parmesan balls were delightful!
Lamb Shoulder, Pesto, Parmesan and Pine Nuts
8: Dulcey Chocolate and Peanut, Salted Caramel Ice-Cream
Beautifully presented – like a Japanese art! Basically a quenelle of salted caramel ice-cream that melts a bit too quickly and a peanut butter log coated in chocolate ganache dusted with some gold dust. Added to the plate, some cookie crumbs for textures and chocolate and caramel sauces for decoration.
Dulcey Chocolate and Peanut, Salted Caramel Ice-Cream
The petit fours came in a perspex box with 4 compartments filled with: marshmallow sitting on a bed of sugar ( incidentally, this was my mom’s favorite), White chocolate on white cookie crumbs, Chocolate macaron on chocolate biscuit crumbs and Dark Chocolate on coco crumbs. My favourite was the Dark chocolate praline with a sour-sweet fruity filling. 😛
Petit Fours: Marshmallow, White Chocolate, Macaron, Dark Chocolate (L to R)
The rather underwhelming 8-course food only degustation lunch was priced at RM438 (inclusive of all surcharges). There’s also food and wine pairing at MYR698.