April 20, 2018

Where the wild things are

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We're long overdue for a catch up with Winnie the Chew and the Zhongmeister, as they had been spending time in Japan recently.  When I proposed getting together, suddenly the choice of venue became clear to my friend - she requested that we go to Uwe.

She certainly wasn't the first to make this request.  There is, apparently, a special menu that exists for me only... or so my friends believe.  But it has been quite a few months since my last visit, and Uwe made sure to remind me of it tonight.

Farmer's hands - Uwe used to serve something similar at the Krug Room and the Mandarin Grill + Bar, and he's kept his relationships with local suppliers for his vegetables.  As usual, the "first course" here is a veritable feast in and of itself.  All the vegetables were locally foraged or farmed.

Courgettes - this immediately reminded me of Chef Mingoo Kang's beautiful dish at Mingles in Seoul.  But the execution here was completely different.  The strips of courgettes tonight were a little more firm, and not translucent like they were in Seoul.  This also came on a bed of tomato salsa and chive oil, with a few drops of 25-year-old balsamico added.

Salad with smoked eggplant - nice and smoky. Pretty dark in terms of color.

Okra with spicy sweet corn purée - totally didn't expect the corn to be so spicy... but it was good!

Vine-ripened tomatoes - with rocket pesto, nasturtium, basil.

Wild tomatoes - LOOOOOVED these cute little tomatoes, which were babies of the same tomatoes above.  Really sweet and vibrant flavors that pop.  The "soil" underneath the cage was fermented shiitake mushrooms.

Carrot and breakfast radishes - with herbed butter.  Sourced from Yi O Farm on Lantau Island.

New potatoes -with Japanese mayo and shiitake soil. With a few drops of argan oil.

Escargot - smoked and pretty nice, with garlic croûtons.  There are always snails in the garden, right?

Steak tartare with foie gras terrine - pretty delish.  With wood sorrel and onion blossoms.

Bone marrow candle - with sourdough bread, as usual.  Better with a little salt on top.

White asparagus, firefly squid, caviar - as usual, Uwe gets his white asparagus from his mother in Germany.  It's still new in the season, so while these were pretty damn sweet and delicious, there was a slight tinge of bitterness.  Served with a small dollop of caviar - Kaviari Kristal, I presume - and my favorite firefly squid (蛍烏賊) from Japan.

Topped with sauce made of asparagus, Japanese cream, firefly squid heads, and chive oil.  Absolutely gorgeous.

Peas with morels - the morels were stuffed with a little bit of chicken, and on the plate we've got pea mash, peas, pea flowers, and pea tendrils.

All the elements of spring.

Hokkaido scallops - here we have a special treat from Uwe.  Back in January, I had been amazed at the size of the scallops being served at Robuchon au Dôme.  Well, these babies came from the same source.

I was so happy to see these scallops!  Look how big they were inside!  Especially the giant coral... and it would seem that mine was female.

And this time, they were cooked very simply - and served with an emulsion flavored with lemon for acidity.  The execution just about mi-cuit.  Oh and my scallop seemed to be the thickest of all.  So, sooooo happy to have this!

Homard bleu - I had seen a picture being posted on the restaurant's Instagram account today, so I suspected that we might get this tonight.  With tomato gratin and edible flowers.  If I were to be entirely honest, I found this a little disappointing.  The texture was surprisingly soft, and didn't have the bite I was looking for.

Claws with tomato sauce.  These were also very soft, almost a little mushy.

These were apparently a cross between lemon, calamansi, and lime.  Very interesting flavors, and nice when squeezing a few drops on top of the lobster.

But the most amazing part of this dish wasn't the French blue lobster.  It was, in fact, this bowl of local greens on ice.  The romaine lettuce was absolutely beautiful.  Very sweet and pure.  I would want to eat that everyday... The little green "coriander caviar" were also pretty amazing.  We know about coriander seeds as a dried spice, but these fresh, green ones were so fragrant... perhaps a little floral, but actually tasted like soap or dishwashing detergent.

Welsh lamb from Rhug Estate - we really didn't need more food by this point, but we knew we would finish with a meat course.

These lamb chops were really beautiful, with some caramelized onion purée and dill flowers on the side.  I couldn't finish the second piece...

The neck of the lamb came served with new potatoes and wild pepper leaves.  Fatty and delicious.  I wish I could have had space for more.

Lantau forest / Black Forest - Uwe laid out this spread on the table, and pointed out that the right-hand-side could be combined together to make a Black Forest cake.  The left side of the spread call came from Lantau Island.

Wild blueberries - these were so amazing!  I thought they looked like blackcurrants, but apparently these were foraged blueberries from the wild.  They didn't taste like the blueberries we know, but I would say they were closer to blueberries than blackcurrants... as the acidity wasn't there.  Popping them in my mouth and feeling the liquid centers burst was pretty fun.

Wild mulberries - I love mulberries, and so was pretty happy to have these.

Strawberries - these were also local, and pretty delish. 

Wild honey - there were two types of wild honey tonight, with this being from Lantau Island and another from Lamma Island (?).  Definitely tasted very different... with strong pollen fragrances in the latter.

Then the Black Forest part:

Japanese cherries - pretty good.

Black Forest cake - adding the Japanese cherries, Japanese whipped cream, and some chocolate leaves on top of the chocolate cake turned this into the popular dessert.  Very nice.

The Zhongmeister and I each brought a bottle, and we ordered a bottle off the very reasonably-priced wine list.

1975 Chateau Musar Blanc - obviously aged and oxidized when one looks at the amber color.  Caramelized nose with a little acetone and plenty of marmalade.  A little hot and alcoholic.  A lovely treat.

2007 Pazo Señoráns Selección de Añada - flinty, mineral, a little savory.  Toasty.  Still some freshness here with lemon citrus.

2002 Arietta H Block Hudson Vineyards - decanted for 2 hours prior to serving.  Very fragrant nose, a little floral, woodsy, almost tropical with exotic spices, coconut butter.  Absolutely beautiful after 3 hours in decanter.  Silky smooth but still got the concentration and some tannins.  Wow!

Once again, Uwe nearly succeeded in killing me with dinner.  One thing he does keep succeeding, though, is to surprise me with beautiful ingredients which he consistently turned into delicious bites.  I'm so blessed to have a good friend like him.

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