June 23, 2017

Birthday in Taipei day 3: Brugge in Taipei

Pin It

This weekend was about spending time with family, so I really didn't plan ahead for any high-end dining.  I was therefore surprised to see from Gert de Mangeleer's Instagram posts that he was doing a pop-up at MUME.  I left a comment on his post, saying that I would be in Taipei this week - not expecting them to have any openings for their 3-day event.  But since I kinda know both Gert and Richie Lin, they managed to squeeze in a late seating for me tonight.

I'm a big fan of Gert's cuisine, and I was especially happy that I was able to introduce mom to it tonight.  While Taipei does get its share of guest chefs from overseas, I felt that this would be one chance to let mom see what a world-class chef from a Michelin 3-star could deliver.

Shortly after we were seated, I reaffirmed my belief that MUME isn't a place to take elderly guests.  The place is very lively and noisy - between the music, the conversations from neighboring tables, and the lack of any insulation that could absorb the sound waves.  We were having a tough time talking across the table without raising the decibel level, but c'est la vie...

The menu started with some of Gert's classic dishes from Hertog Jan, and quickly evolves to new forms using local ingredients.  Richie has spent some time showing Gert the bountiful produce of Taiwan, and apparently the menu was only finalized last night.  We weren't given a written menu until the meal was finished, so each course was introduced by the waitstaff.

Cannelloni / Flemish beef / anchovy - I recognized this instantly, as I've had something like this from Gert twice before.  Inside the crispy tube was a combination of cured Flemish beef and anchovies, and the anchovies definitely packed enough salt and almost overpowered the beef.  As usual, the exterior had been sprinkled with dried tomato powder - delivering a nice bit of acidity along with some umami.  I was inclined to assume that this was the same type of tomato powder that Gert usually uses, which comprises of 107 different types of tomatoes.  But maybe that message didn't get passed down from Gert to the people at MUME...

Crispy BBQ pork - a gorgeous-looking piece of deep-fried pork rind served as a carrier for some pork rillettes, slices of pickled cucumber, and topped with sliced of cured pork.  Our waiter told us there was "meat sauce" but couldn't explain what it was... but thankfully I can recognize rillettes with my eyes closed.  It's something I have loved for decades!  The pickled cucumber helped cut some fat with its acidity, and there was some dark sauce that I suspected was balsamic vinegar.  The fatty cured pork on top was, of course, delish.  But the most satisfying part has gotta be bitting down on a big ol' piece of pork rind!  This was pretty much just mouthfuls of (almost) nothing but pork!

Potato / vanilla / coffee / Mimolette - another dish I had last year, which kinda blew us away the first time.  Our waiter told us there was 24-month aged "Makala" cheese on top, and he spent about 30 seconds looking through his notes and still couldn't come up with the right name... because the poor guy has never seen it before.  Thankfully I knew it was shaved Mimolette.  Our waiter also didn't mention the presence of coffee, which I was able to taste despite the flavors not being as strong and fragrant as last year.  Overall the flavors here were on the strong and rich side, but falling a little short of last year's amazement level.

"La Vie en Rose" buri - we marvelled at the beauty of this dish even before the finishing touches were added.

The thin slices of raw yellowtail (鰤) were shaped into a beautiful rose, with thin slices of radish (or was it Gert's preferred kohlrabi?) in between for added crunch.   The "rose" sat on top of a bed of smoked ricotta, with thin slices of cucumber wrapped all around.  The sauce was made with Manila clams, Champagne, salmon roe, and dill oil.  The rose was clean and pure, while the surrounding sauce packed a real punch of richness.  Beautiful and delicious.  My favorite dish of the evening.

Lacquered eel with green herbs - the short-finned eel (黑鰻) was pretty firm in texture, with crunchy skin and just a hint of muddy flavors.  Came with chervil purée and black garlic purée, sugar snap peas, dill, pickled kohlrabi (?), red perilla leaves, green soy beans, and drizzled with herb oil that tasted of basil.  Very, very pretty... which I fully expect from Gert's dishes.

Amadai / pork trotter / spiced tomato broth - underneath the tilefish () with the typical crispy scales, we had onions, chorizo and red capsicum.  The stock that was poured into the bowl was made with tomato soup spiced with garam masala and a little lovage oil.

At the very bottom, there was a terrine made with pork trotter - with diced pork skin and meat.  I guess the gelée melted away after the warm stock was poured into the bowl...  An inspiration he took from going for local Taiwanese food over the last few days.

Walk through the garden of Taipei - Gert has always impressed me with his "salad", and tonight his take on gargouillou featured not the vegetables and flowers he shipped in from his garden, but local Taiwanese produce.

Looking at the list showing 37 ingredients - there were supposedly 43 in all - we tried to pick up the ingredients one by one.  I gotta say that there was still a bunch of them that I didn't recognize...  but what a special dish!

Wagyu beef / fungus / rose / ume-boshi - the Australian wagyu was served with black wood ear fungus (黑木耳) - which Gert had at Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐) - with candied cherry tomatoes, cream of rose and salted plums (梅干し), thin wafers of white mushrooms, and sprinkled with a combination of Gert's tomato powder and spices used to marinate the black fungus... which actually looked a little like Japanese shichimi (七味).

I thought it was interesting that the beef came with some diced garlic and spring onion oil.  The tomato powder naturally provided some acidity, and the other spices added some kick.

Our pre-dessert was a quenelle of almond ice cream with papaya granité.  Slurp.

Pina colada - the frozen coconut milk "snow" was sprinkled on top of the pineapple confit, spiced with chili and kumquat.

The cigares were also coconut flavored.  Sweet and crunchy.

I wasn't the least bit surprised to see a couple of familiar faces in the dining room tonight - especially Richie's sister Little Meg.  I last saw her in Bangkok back in February, and it was good to catch up in Taipei.

This was a VERY good dinner.  I was very grateful that Richie and and Gert could squeeze us in on such short notice.  As I commented on the Gaggan x DEN dinner a few months ago, it takes some serious SKILLZ for a chef to create dishes from new, local ingredients with just a couple of days' exposure.  Of course, I never had any doubt that Gert possessed skills like that, so I was very happy to have tasted dishes that he created especially for this event.  But most of all, I was incredibly happy that I could take mom here tonight.  I think she was happy, and in the end that's all that matters to me.

1 comment:

adaline said...

Beef and anchovies sounds interesting.


Related Posts with Thumbnails

TripAdvisor Travel Map