January 19, 2019

Peruvian import

Pin It

I received a message a couple of months ago from Virgilio Martinez - whose cuisine I love but whose restaurants Central Restaurante and MIL I have yet to visit - asking me to block out today on my calendar.  He was coming back to Hong Kong with Pia León - who now runs her own restaurant Kjolle - to do a collaboration with Goldfinger at HAKU.  I was, of course, only too happy to have been included for this special event.

Once again, the hyperactive PR for the restaurant very kindly stuck me in Siberia, although I was in good company, being sandwiched by The Great One and Da Jam... not to mention that I was seated right in front of the action.

Bulles de Comptoir #6 La Benjamine 2.0, dégorgée le Janvier 2018 - very ripe.

Shrimp, annatto and red cactus, by Central - we have some raw langoustines together with a pink foam made with annatto seeds as well as the red flowers of the cactus - the latter having a very short season of about 20 days.  The foam was very acidic.  The quinoa on top added a nice crunch,

The finishing touches came in the form of shavings of macambo seeds - which is related to cacao.

Oxalis, by Central - oxalis leaves were boiled and the resulting liquid was reduced and dehydrated to form translucent leaves, which were a little chewy and stuck to one's teeth.  Definitely some acidity here, but not that interesting taste-wise.

Beef hearts and bee pollen, by Central - actually these were alpaca hearts, which were dried in the Andes and cured with wax.  Sliced thin and dusted with bee pollen. 

Beef tartare, by Central - with yogurt and annatto oil (hence the reddish color).  Actually nice and savory.

White corn / chicken, by HAKU - basically mini arepas, topped with shredded Japanese chicken, avocado, and sansho leaves (木の芽).  The young leaves lent their subtle citrus fragrance.

Churros / akegarashi, by HAKU - these thin, savory churros were dipped in a sauce made of alioli and akegarashi (あけがらし).  The dip came with acidity, a hint of spiciness, and plenty of umami.  Yum.

Squid / lardo, by HAKU - very fine strips of raw squid, together with lardo di Colonnata, with olive oil, salt, sudachi (酢橘) zest shavings, before finishing by shaving dried alpaca heart on top.

I could definitely taste the richness and fattiness of the lardo, which was easily distinguishable from the squid.  The gamey flavors of the alpaca heart also stood out.

Razor clams, taro, sweet cucumber and natural dye, by Central - the different vegetables were dyed with natural plant colors, and marinated during the trip over from Peru - which included a stop in Singapore.  Some of the vegetables were very starchy, and some were really crispy and crunchy.

We've got sweetness, acidity, and creaminess... along with some lovely fragrance.  The Japanese razor clams hidden inside were pretty nice. 

Warm avocado, uni and high altitude grains, by Central - the chunks of avocado came with a green sauce containing the chlorophyll from avocado leaves.  The sea urchin came with arracacha purée, while the kiwicha on top were dyed with purple corn.  Very, very good... and that's coming from a guy who's not a fan of avocados...

The langoustine broth came in a separate cup on the side of the avocado, and so a few of us ended up drinking it separately even though I think it was meant to go in with the avocado?.  Very, very yum with tons of umami.  And it's nice and comforting to have some warm broth hitting the stomach.

Native roots, Amazonian duck intense broth, wild passion fruit, by Central - a diversity of tubers including oca and a few others I couldn't figure out.  These were so full of flavors, and it almost seemed like I was eating burdock marinated in meat sauce.  Apparently the combination of duck broth and Peruvian passion fruit is pretty classic.

Oh you see those round discs where it's white in the middle with yellow and red rings outside?  That goddamn beetroot was soooo earthy I thought I was eating dirt.

The next dish was laid out and introduced, and I had duly taken a picture of it, when a call came through.  There was a particular lot of Penfolds wine I wanted at the Sotheby's auction going on today, and I had asked for a phone bid.  So I promptly ducked out to the entrance of the restaurant for the call.

Goldwasser - so imagine my surprise when I returned to my seat and found the bowl missing... and replaced by this.  After the prank he pulled last year, Goldfinger strikes again.  More gold foil.  Somehow I knew it was coming one way or another.  Now there's a giant piece of gold floating in my water.

They moved to try to take away my glass, and I chastised the move.  Last time I wasn't allowed to have my gold soft serve and I was pissed, so this time Imma drink my goldwasser, dammit!

Rice / abalone, by HAKU - inspired by the caldoso from Goldfinger's grandmother, made using Akita Komachi (秋田小町) rice, clam dashi (出汁), chicken broth, abalone liquid, and chorizo de la vera.  This was probably my favorite dish of the meal, as it was just such a homey comforting dish.  Loved the slight spicy flavors coming from the chorizo, and needless to say the abalone was pretty tender.

Mikan / granita, by HAKU - different textures of the Ehime mikan (愛媛蜜柑) along with some crumble.  Nice and refreshing.

Mucilage of theobromas family, by Central - a dessert which uses the whole of the cacao pod.  Besides using the seeds to make chocolate paste, the white mucilage surrounding the seeds were used to make an acidic gelatin.  There was also another type of paste made from copoasu, which is related to cacao.  We've also got cocoa nibs and pod as part of the dessert, so literally every part has been used.  Sprinkled on the plate was chancaca powder, which is raw sugar. 

Sweets - yuzu tart and a wagashi (和菓子) made of red beans, puffed rice, and vanilla gel.

At the end of the meal, our hosts handed out goodie bags for everyone.  They all looked identical, but Goldfinger hinted that mine was a little different from the others... I didn't believe him at first, so I took a look inside:

First we have a collection of cards from Central Restaurante, showcasing some of the indigenous ingredients used in their cuisine.

Our hosts wrote each of us a note.  Of course, mine was the only one that came with some gold foil on the wax seal...  And just look at the signature on the left!

Even my bag of dulce de leche - no doubt from the tub we were scooping from last night - came with a golden touch...

And finally... Goldfinger figured that since I love gold so much, he might as well give me some gold foil!

It was so good to see Virgilio and Pia again, and as always, tasting their cuisine is a lesson in the ecosystem and diversity of Peru.  I had to apologize - once again - for postponing my trip to Peru... as other things take precedence in 2019.  I promise I will make it there in 2020!

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails

TripAdvisor Travel Map