October 20, 2018

Eat at Morpheus: dragon or durian?

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We abandoned our original plans of grabbing a sandwich and visiting our favorite shop cat so that we could spend a little more time in our nice suite at the Morpheus.  A nap sounded like a good idea, and I probably should have caught some zzzz instead of working on the blog.

Soon it was cocktail hour, and we regrouped at Voyages by Alain Ducasse.  A couple of drink carts were rolled in front of us as we were offered some of the signature drinks.  I took the kalamansi negroni since negroni is often my drink of choice, but while there was certainly citrus fragrance here, the scent of calamansi was so faint that it took me a long time to convince myself that it was, in fact, calamansi...

I spotted a bottle of Monkey 47 during our tour earlier, so I suggested that Hello Kitty get herself a gin and tonic made with Monkey 47.  Curiously, we were told that it was unavailable... so Hello Kitty took one with Tanqueray N° Ten instead, since that bottle was on one of the carts.

There were also a few different nibbles offered while we sipped our drinks.

I wasn't interested in having a second drink here, so I watched with amusement as g4gary ordered up a lychee royal Bellini made with the Alain Ducasse-branded Champagne (actually made by Lanson).  I use the word "with amusement" because, much to my surprise, my friend didn't consider Bellini a "girlie drink".  That got a few chuckles around the table...

Dinner was at Yí (天頤) a few floors above.  We had a look around a little earlier, and took note of the curved enclosures inspired by the scales of dragons.  I do wonder, though, how many people have thought about the Esplanade durians in Singapore when looking at these?

The kitchen is helmed by Angelo Wong (黃贊奇), whose last gig was as the Sous Chef at Howard's Gourmet (好酒好蔡) in Hong Kong.  They are apparently serving an omakase menu, which was why we were handed this at the dinner table - a menu that told us pretty much nothing...

We started with some white tea that was cold brewed, and I realized that everyone's glass had a different animal from the Chinese zodiac.

Our amuse bouches came in the form of a deep-fried rice cake topped with what we were told to be Iranian caviar (which would be the first time I've been served Iranian caviar in recent memory), and surf clam (北寄貝) with some Sichuan-style sauce.  Surprisingly the strong flavors of the caviar actually worked well with the greasy but tasty rice cake.  Unfortunately I found some sand in the surf clams.

Steamed bird's nest dumplings with superior glaze and guanciale ham dust (晶瑩燕窩球) - the wrapper of the dome was made with bamboo piths (竹笙), and a thick, starchy glaze seasoned with superior stock was applied on top.  We were told that the crumble on the side was made of iberico (ham)...

Wrapped inside was a generous portion of bird's nest.  This was very nice, if you happen to like bird's nest.

Hot and sour fish maw soup (酸辣金香魚肚羹) - the fish maw came with some bite, and was served with crunchy bamboo shoots as well as what seemed like wensi tofu (文思豆腐).  Apparently lemon juice was used in place of vinegar for acidity.  Pretty nice.

Crispy almonds crab claw (杏香鮮拆蟹鉗) - this was a thingy of beauty.  I was so fascinated by this that I took a number of pictures from different angles, trying to capture the best look.  Like the scales of a dragon, the crab claw was covered in thin wafers of almonds.  Absolutely stunning!

The meaty crab claw was wrapped in a layer of shrimp paste.  This was very, very good... and the almond 'scales' delivered a wonderful crunch as well as nice fragrance.  I'm not sure that the citrus honey dipping sauce was even necessary, but that was nice, too.

Stir-fried bamboo shrimp, topped with Tasmania truffle, braised rock rice with night bush flower (油泡黑松露花竹蝦配夜香花岩米) - I don't think I've ever had "rock rice"(岩米) before... and it's apparently not a grain but the seeds of a type of wild grass/plant which grows in rock crevices on a mountain along the Nepalese/Tibetan border (our server told us it was a type of algae).  It was certainly soft and a little chewy... Here it's been mixed with some truffle sauce, and served with some young asparagus, Tonkin jasmine buds, as well as two bamboo shrimps.

Roasted lemongrass pigeon (香茅燒妙齡鴿) - these pigeons were about 21 days' old and very, very tasty.  In fact I asked Chef Angelo later why it was that we only got to have half a pigeon each.... instead of a whole bird.  They also came smoked with lemongrass, which was something new to me.  Oh and that lemongrass fragrance was wonderful.

Steamed Japanese tomato with quinoa and vegetables, purple sweet potato purée (紅袍靚裟) - so... normally this comes with a beetroot purée, but the organizer has taken note of my disdain for it and swapped it with purple sweet potato.  While this counted as the vegetable course, the tomato was stuffed with ginkgo nuts, corn, and sweet potato...etc.  Curious that I didn't detect any quinoa.

Homemade rice noodle with soy braised pork belly, eggs, pork ears and bean curd (自家製滷水粿汁) - I was very surprised to see kway chap (粿汁) at a fine dining restaurant, but it's something that I do love.  We've got fatty pork, pig's ears, and pig intestines (apparently from Japan, although someone who visited yesterday was told they were ibérico) along with tofu all braised in masterstock (滷水).  These were, of course, accompanied by broad rice flat noodles (粿條) in a bowl of starchy broth, along with a soft-boiled Japanese egg.

This was very, very delicious... and I was very happy to slurp down the bowl of noodles towards the end of this meal.

Deconstructed mango sago crispy bean curd mille-feuille with mango mousse, coconut sorbet, fresh pomelo (香芒腐皮酥配椰汁雪葩) - this was like a deconstructed 楊枝甘露, and while I enjoyed the coconut sorbet and thought the mango mousse was OK, for some reason the first few bites of the crispy tofu skin delivered some bitterness.  So in the end I wasn't such a big fan.

This tea was poured on a trolley tableside, and there was some gimmicky dry ice presentation.  I gotta say, though, that while the serving vessel is pretty, I found it annoying to drink from it.

Petits fours - there was a bite-sized cheesecake with a blueberry on top, as well as a puff with wolfberries and osmanthus.

I was tempted to BYO tonight but decided against it.  Thankfully our hosts kindly provided some vino...

2013 Domaine Leflaive Bourgogne Blanc - rather high acidity, with a little lemon marmalade.

2015 Lécheneaut Gevrey-Chambertin - nice and floral nose, with fragrant dried herbs.  Structure is there and the palate was more masculine.  Perhaps a little simple.

A very nice dinner with a couple of stellar dishes, and I was completely stuffed at the end... and not just because of all the popcorn and peanuts...

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