June 5, 2016

Macau Michelin tour 2016: six trolleys, 3 stars

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So we've come to the most-anticipated meal on this leg of the tour.  We even chose to skip breakfast to conserve precious stomach space for it.  Because lunch at Robuchon au Dôme can last for more than four hours, and it an be one's only meal of the day - given the amount of food and calories one can consume.

Similar to my last visit, I asked the PR team at Hotel Lisboa to help me secure the smaller of their two private rooms.  Wanting to put as much time as possible between lunch and dinner, we arrived before doors opened at 12:00 p.m., and were the first customers to walk into the restaurant.

Chef Julien Tongourian has settled into his position here for more than half a year, and we can see his influence reflected in the menu as some of the signature dishes from Chef Francky Semblat have now been replaced, while the same dishes are now showing up at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Shanghai.

As we had plans for dinner, I was accused of behaving like the Soup Nazi when I forbade everyone from taking the 5-course Menu Gourmet.  The Great One had never come to Robuchon in Macau and not taken the 5-course menu... but today she would grudgingly agree to take the 4-course Menu Plaisir.

First order of business is, of course, the bread trolley.  It's not as tall as they used to stack it up, but there's still a good variety to choose from.  We ended up getting two baskets of mixed selection.

Naturally, the next trolley to be rolled in was the butter trolley.  Yes, there is a butter trolley.  Two large mounds of butter from Jean-Yves Bordier in Brittany.

And this was the Great One's turn to play Soup Nazi.  We were only allowed to take the salted butter.  So our waitress took two dinner spoons and scraped the butter off.  Unfortunately, though, she didn't seem skillful enough... and we ended up with these measly, skinny swirls instead of the thicker versions we are used to getting.

La cerise: cherry gazpacho with frozen ricotta and pistachio flakes - this has become a familiar amuse bouche by now.

The ricotta frozen with liquid nitrogen was sprinkled onto the gazpacho, giving it a bit of richness and softening the acidity at the same time.

Once again, the chef has sent us an extra amuse bouche... and it is again the classic deep-fried New Zealand scampi with basil oil dip.  This has always been beautiful in its simplicity.

The langoustine underneath the thin, deep-fried wrapper was so, so succulent and delicious!  One is almost tempted to enjoy it as is, with just the basil leaf providing some additional fragrance.  The basil oil was incredibly intense, and should be used in moderation for fear of covering up the natural flavors of the langoustine.

Le caviar «Grand Cru de l'Impératrice» : Imperial caviar, king crab, lobster jelly, and cauliflower cream - I ordered this extra dish since I realized that I've never had it.  This was Francky's creation and had just been taken off the à la carte menu, but the kitchen was very gracious to do a special order for me.

This wasn't just a beautiful dish to behold, but very, very delicious, too.  The salty flavors of the caviar; the umami of the lobster jelly; the sweet and savory flavors of the king crab; and the sweet and smooth cauliflower cream... all came together to delight the diner's palate.

L'œuf de poule : crispy soft-boiled egg with white asparagus, black garlic emulsion and shiso leaves - the white asparagus was seasoned with a lot of piment d'Espelette, so it actually had a pretty spicy kick.  The black garlic emulsion was pretty strong in terms of flavor.

The Yamanashi (山梨) egg with the runny yolk was encased in a loose kataifi shell, and I just love the crunchy texture.

Les crustachés : shellfish bisque with crispy shrimp and Espelette pepper - loved this bisque, which was also seasoned with a good amount of piment d'Espelette for a spicy palate.  Besides shreds of shellfish, there were also salmon roe as well as chunks of tomato.  The shrimp balls coated in crispy rice, though, weren't that tasty.

Le black cod : black cod with Malabar black pepper sauce, bok choy and coconut foam - I've always passed up this dish whenever it showed up on the menu at a Robuchon outlet, because I always felt it was ordinary and would deliver no surprises.  But today I finally decided to give it a try.  The quality of the cod itself was certainly evident in the succulent texture as well as the flavors.  I wasn't at all surprised that this tasted like a saikyoyaki (西京焼き).  The coconut foam was pretty mild and was mostly overpowered by the sauce.

Everyone got a little scoop of the famous Robuchon mashed potatoes, which was as delicious as always.  But I restrained myself and only took about a quarter of my portion...

After our main course, it was time for the cheese trolley to be rolled in...  I decided to share a few pieces with Hello Kitty.

Brillat-Savarin fermier - this is a cheese I would never get tired of eating.  Soooo creamy and melt-in-your-mouth, with good amount of salt and some acidity on the back.

Petit Fiancé de Pyrénées - pretty stinky and gamey.

Mimolette, 36 months - mmmm so nice... that depth of flavors.

Époisses de Bourgogne au lait cru - from Gaugry.  This was very ripe and turned out to be really strong and really bitter.  Not enjoyable at all...

Next to arrive was our pre-dessert.  This was vanilla ice cream with dark chocolate crunchy pearls, topped with cranberry mousse, along with a ball of Armagnac crème brûlée encased in cacao gélée.  I loved the combination of flavors here, with acidity balancing out the sweetness.

The dessert trolley came next...

...and the ice cream trolley came at the same time.

I was pretty restrained, and just nibbled while I shared a few items with the others...

Basil sorbet - this was highly aromatic and delicious, although I thought I tasted some tomato consommé.

Strawberry tart - unfortunately the strawberries weren't very ripe or sweet.

Mango mousse - it's hard for me to pass up anything made with mango...  Here it's got a passion fruit outer coat, a caramel center, and a cake bottom.

Opéra - this was absolutely beautiful, with the coffee flavors rising above the bitter dark chocolate.

The sixth and last trolley came in bearing the mignardises, and again I thought I showed sufficient restraint...

The cherry kirsch was very, very delicious.

The chocolate and hazelnut lollipop was made with dried apricot.

Finally, a canelé to finish.

But we shan't forget to take our coffee, if only to have the chance to savor that caramel!

We took it easy in terms of wine today, and shared only 1 bottle among the 5 of us...

2012 Guigal Condrieu La Doriane - what a beautiful wine!  Nutty, floral, honey notes, with a good amount of ripeness on the palate.  Everything I expected.

Another fantastic lunch, which actually took longer than our last visit in spite of the fact that we took 1 course less today. It was raining pretty hard at this, and we ended up watching the rain flow down the curved windows of the "dome" from inside the restaurant.  Dinner is in a couple of hours, and we're thankful that we'll be joined by "fresh" mouths who are eager to eat!

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