I've been receiving complaints. I haven't been to see one of my favorite chefs in a while, and he's not shy about letting me know that he hasn't been gettin' the love from me. After attempts at a December visit fell through, I waited until Uwe Opocensky returned from his trip to the US to book myself a table at the Mandarin Grill + Bar.
As usual, I didn't bother ordering. I just let Uwe know in advance that I was coming, and he knew that he would have carte blanche to throw at me whatever he felt like. The only comment I made to Uwe before dinner started were that "I don't do fish sperm" and "we're not as hungry as you think we are". After all, just about every single visit I've paid Uwe in the last 3 years has resulted in my stomach almost bursting while still in the restaurant.
Fermented sourdough sticks with pickled onions and flowers - crunchy and pretty.
There were also plenty of condiments to go with the caviar, but a little different from the "traditional" way they are served:
Seeing that there were no utensils on the table, I wasted no time in posted a picture online with the caption "no fork use"... When I finally got around to asking the staff, though, I was told there we were meant to use our hands to grab the vines in order to lift the langoustine off the plate.
The venison was very gamey, and my friend had a little trouble stomaching it. I, on the other hand, love gamey meats... and the chocolate really worked well to soften the blow of rare game. But there was no doubt that this was a heavy dish, and certainly not "vegetarian" and light!
You can kinda see the chunks of smoky duck confit and foie gras beneath the top layer of chicken mousse. Very tasty, and the duck jus came with coriander seeds and coriander pesto.
Unfortunately, here is where I hit a wall... I have had soooo much food by this point that I found myself unable to take any more. For someone who never says "No" to pork fat, I found myself feeling a tiny bit nauseated at the taste of it. I just had to stop before disaster strikes, so I left part of the pork on my plate. I didn't even touch the "light mashed potatoes" served on the side.
After complaining to Uwe that his efforts to "do me in" was on the cusp of success, he quickly changed tact and sent out only one dessert instead of two...
P.S. At the end of the evening, as I was seconds from leaving the restaurant with a big smile on my face, my phone rang with the news that grandma passed away at the grand old age of 101 (and a half). It was not a complete surprise as her condition had deteriorated pretty sharply in the last few months, but I am thankful that her departure was not the result of some long and painful illness. She had lived a long and good life, and continues to live on in my memories. I'm a little sad that I did not get to see her while I was back in Taipei just a few days ago, but at least I got to celebrate her life at her 100th birthday a couple of years ago.