September 24, 2011

The must in Taichung

Pin It

The reputation of Le Moût, a fine dining French restaurant in Taichung, is well-known to foodies in Taiwan.  It has been held up like a shining star for almost as long as it's been open.  I have heard about it for quite some time, but never found the opportunity to visit due to the location... and it didn't seem to make sense to make detours in the past during my short stays in Taipei.

Things have changed recently, of course, and when my friend J kindly invited me to join him - on a rare occasion when he is back in Taiwan - I didn't hesitate to say "yes".  I booked my ticket on the Taiwan High Speed Rail, found myself a room in a hotel, and off I went.

I checked into Hotel One again, as it's the only choice in town for me...  After taking a little nap and walking around a little, J picked me up and gave me a tour of his gigantic house.  Very nicely done, and I can only imagine what a place like this would cost in Taipei...

We walked the couple of blocks between J's house and the restaurant, and I was surprised by the decor.  I'll admit I haven't spent too much time reading up on the place, so I kinda thought it would be a quaint little place... was I wrong!  The multi-story restaurant was decked out in grand fashion, more classical than modern, with lots of chandeliers dotting the space.  Quite a fortune was spent, apparently...

The bread selection was pretty decent, with various dried fruits and nuts (such as hazelnuts) baked into some of the breads.  The butter, however, was a disgrace.  So what if you took Échiré and d'Isigny and molded them into little squares with your logo?  The fact that you decided to leave the butter out at room temperature until it's gone all soft and gooey tells me that you really don't care about butter.

I took the pricier of the two set menus, and made a substitution for main course:

The aperitif came as a trio of bites:
Beetroot with cream of blue cheese - the blue cheese's strong flavors overpowered the beetroot, but the baby sprouts on top added a fresh and cleansing element.

Cheese puff - exerting pressure released the liquid center, with the fragrance of truffles filling the mouth.

Honeydew melon soup - served warm with a bit of (olive?) oil and bits of crunchy nuts.

Torresella Prosecco - we were served small pours as an aperitif.  Lovely, tropical and fruity with nectarines and minerals.

The amuse-bouche was green sea urchin (馬糞雲丹) served on top of a pile of mushy potatoes, with potato foam infused with Sherry vinegar and sprinkled with truffles and perilla (紫蘇) leaves.  This was alright.  The acidity of the vinegar cut the richness of the foam, although as usual I'm not of a fan of the potatoes... and it actually reminded me of the Japanese potato salad...

2008 Leflaive Mâcon-Verzé - recommended by the sommelier.  Big, toasty nose of minerals, loads of beautiful and lovely butter.  Pretty ripe.  Drank very well.

Caviar Osetra prestige, virgin crab and vichyssoise - honestly the osetra is a little wasted... The virgin mud crab (處女蟳) was not bad, and there was a layer of green apple jelly at the bottom, whose acidity balanced out the richness of the vichyssoise.  Very nice.

Gillardeau grilled with seaweed butter, silkie hen's egg and bacon cappuccino - initially I was worried that grilling something as good as a Gillardeau oyster would be a complete waste.  Thankfully that didn't turn out to be the case.  The oyster was still delicious, although it lost a little bit of its luster due to the cooking process.  I didn't quite taste the seaweed butter, which was supposed to be from Brittany (Bordier?)  There was a layer of bitter gourd brunoise in the bowl, which were crunchy, refreshing without being too bitter.  A local black chicken egg cooked at 65 degrees contained yolk that was reddish orange, with a viscous consistency that was absolutely yummy.  Diced bacon and bacon foam helped complete the "bacon and eggs" combo.  Slurp!

1985 Hospices de Beaune Mazis-Chambertin Cuvée Madeleine-Collignon par Bouchard - my contribution for the evening, and the third bottle I opened in recent months.  Again this was opened earlier but not decanted at the sommelier's suggestion.  Chilled in a bucket to lower the temperature.  Served around 2 hours after opening.  Nose seemed very slightly cooked with pruny notes.  Definitely some fruit but didn't get much sweetness coming out.  A little mushroom.  The wine drank OK, but not at the level of the previous two bottles.  Perhaps it's still suffering from bottle shock, having traveled from Taipei to Taichung today and from Hong Kong to Taipei 2 weeks ago...

Duck foie gras glazed, spice bread and grilled shallot - yes, this was one of those rare occasions when I felt the Canadian foie was too fatty and rich... It was nicely accompanied by some cherries, but I didn't understand the presence of raw shallots.  Nor did I "get" why the chef chose to put so many soy beans on the plate, as I didn't think they went well with the foie.  The grilled shallot was nice, and the paper-thin wafers of tofu skin baked with sugar was certainly interesting.

I did think, though, that the execution of the foie was pretty decent...

Sorbet, peach and verbena - pretty nice.  The verbena was a nice touch.

Bresse chicken in vin jaune with morel custard and asparagus - kinda disappointing.  While the meat itself was succulent and tender, what happened to the skin?!  Why was it soft and chewy, instead of being crispy and to-die-for?!  I could care less for the layer of black truffles stuffed between the skin and the meat, just gimme my crispy skin!  The custard of egg and morels was pretty decent, with the lovely fragrance of morels.  The layer of finely chopped asparagus was over-seasoned, and I honestly didn't know what to make of the crumbling biscuit supposedly made with morels...

2002 Désiré Petit Arbois Pupillin - this vin jaune was served by the sommelier together with my Bresse chicken.  Quite fragrant, a little nutty, mossy and medicinal.

Ile flottante "L'Amour", rose, raspberry and ginger - Hmmmm... I didn't see this as an île flottante at all... The problem is with the stupid dome top, which shouldn't have been there.  The meringue was supposed to sit on top of a single raspberry compote, with diced lychees sitting on top of a lychee, ginger and rose sorbet.  Unfortunately the meringue ended up getting stuck to the top, and when I first removed the top I had no idea the meringue was even there...  There was some lychee jelly on the side, with raspberry coulis, rose petals and pistachio.

In terms of taste this was pretty good, and reminds me somewhat of Pierre Hermé's famed Ispahan - with a little extra kick from the ginger.

2003 Charmes des Vignots - this Sauternes was served by the sommelier with our desserts.  Classic nose of acetone, orange rind and honey.  Pretty sweet on the nose and palate.

Mignardises - not bad at all...

A wonderful evening.  The food was lovely and the company was superb.  J was extremely generous and ended up treating me to dinner - a favor I need to return next time.  I can see why the restaurant has gotten a lot of attention over the last few years.  It's too bad that it's a bit of a trek for me, or I would definitely come here more often...

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails

TripAdvisor Travel Map