April 20, 2019

10 days in 3 cities day 8: 25 more emojis

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It was gonna be another long night.  Dinner was due to start at 9:30 p.m., so naturally we started our evening 8ish at Wet, Vladi's new baby next door.  My friend has finally realized his dream of being the owner of a bongwater natural wine bar, and in spite of all the shit I give him about his bongwater, I am really, really happy for him.  I even brought him a special bottle of bongwater from home.

I've seen many people post about Wet, so I am well-aware that one enters through a space designed to look like graffiti-filled toilet.  As luck would have it, our Thai restauranteur friend from lunch was also here, so we asked him to join us at the table Vladi reserved for us upstairs.

I knew that Vladi would want to show me some of his treasures, but I also warned him that The Dining Austrian isn't a fan of bongwater... so I was pretty curious what he would do.

2008 Marguet Sapience - this is a brut nature, so I wasn't surprised at the high acidity.  The nose was nice and caramelized.

2016 François Rousset-Martin Cuvée du Professeur Sous-Roche - very oxidized and caramelized on the nose, a little beeswax, but kinda flat on the palate.  Meh.

2015 Muster Sgaminegg - kinda fruity on the nose, almost like pineapple.  Lots of acidity here.

Our local friend isn't having dinner with us, so he ordered a bowl of curry to go along with drinks. He very kindly shared a few spoonfuls with us so that we could have a taste. Pretty damn tasty for sure. Meanwhile, the girls behind me ordered a bowl of noodles, and the smell kept drifting in my direction and making me hungry...

It was time to move to dinner, so we went downstairs and through the passage away linking Wet to Gaggan.  I've been sitting in the Lab during the last couple of visits, so it's been a while since I was last seated at the chef's table looking into the kitchen.

Vladi picked out a few bottles for us, and thankfully we started with something that wasn't bongwater...  I was also happy to see that the restaurant serves water filtered with Nordaq - which is much, much more environmentally-friendly than selling imported bottle water.

2013 David Léclapart Coteaux Champenois Trépail Blanc - a little pungent with mineral notes.

A little 🍊citrus - mandarin sorbet sandwiched between yuzu (柚子) meringue.  Really nice fragrance from the mandarin, and love the sweetness.  Very refreshing start to dinner, and as our sommelier said, it's like a welcome drink.

Yogurt 💥 explosions - classic.  A tribute to Gaggan's time at elBulli, but he made it unique with the salty and acidic yogurt.  I still love eating this bite after all this time.

Oh and we have videos of A - the charming maître d' - feeding this to a few people at the table...

What did u 👅 lick? - here we go again... The classic tune from KISS started blaring from portable speakers, and we were instructed to lift the plate to our faces and... LICK IT UP!

Tonight I think we've got chili, mushroom, and mango along with flowers and herbs.

2014 Georges Noëllat Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Chaumes - decent amount of fruit on the nose, with nice forest notes.

Chili 🌶 egg nest - tomorrow is Easter Sunday, so it's only appropriate that we've got some Easter eggs for dinner.  It looks like a quail egg on a bird's nest, but that's the new presentation of pani puri.  I still absolutely love this dish, as one bites down on the white chocolate shell and there is a gush of liquid with coriander, cumin, chili, and other spices.

Idly sambar 🍚 breakfast - still enjoy this south Indian breakfast as much as the first time I had it 3 years ago.  That light and airy sponge cake as idly is topped with sambhar foam and curry leaf.

Bombay bhel 🥪 sandwich - the tamarind chutney in the middle was more acidic than expected, and the texture was certainly like chutney.

Egg tart 🥚 ghewar - the northern Indian ghewar has been topped with a layer of scrambled eggs, garlic, and onion... then brûlée on top like those Portuguese or Macanese pasteis.  It did tasted like sweet scrambled eggs with Indian spices.  Pretty nice.

We were told that it was too big to take it in one bite.  I beg to differ... and so would A.

Charcoal 🌑 pyaz kachori - a new version of the charcoal emoji...

Not the same filling as before.  No longer fish and potato like a croquetta, but spicy onion I believe.

The last five bites came on irregularly-shaped ceramic plates, and they fit like pieces of a puzzle to form the map of India.

White asparagus 🍦 no it's cauliflower - the asparagus-shaped white chocolate contained cauliflower purée, with a hint of spice.

Cheese 🥖 porcini pav - this pav looked somewhat familiar, as I first tasted a version of it last year at the GohGanDen collaboration.

The filling was made with porcini, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and Gouda.

Eggplant 🍆 pomegranate sundae - instead of nori (海苔) being used for the hand rolls, it was actually smoky eggplant.  We still had mango filling, but now there's also ginger.  Topped with Indian pomegranate seeds and finger lime caviar.

Puchka liver 🍷 mulled wine - the rice cracker shell contained creamy foie gras mousse inside seasoned with cloves.  I took the challenge and ate it in one bite, and that meant the whole mouthful tasted a little too salty.  It did remind me of mulled wine, though...

Sea urchin 🌊 hay ice cream - the hay ice cream came in a tube made of green apple, topped with Japanese green sea urchin (馬糞雲丹) from Hokkaido with a few flakes of fleur de sel, and garnished with what seemed to be apple purée and sansho leaves (木の芽).

The flavors from sea urchin were, of course, wonderful.  We've also got interesting acidity from the green apple, a hint of saltiness from the salt which brought out the sweetness of the sea urchin, and of course the fragrance from sansho leaves.  A delicious mouthful, and taken in one bite as A suggested.

2016 Clos des vignes du Maynes Mâcon Cruzille Aragonite - flinty, much riper on the nose than expected but with sharp acidity.

Otoro 🍣 sushi tribute - this little thing really 'WOW'ed me the first time I had it, and I listed it as one of my favorite dishes from 2017, but the feeling wasn't quite the same tonight.  The fatty tuna belly was a lot thinner tonight, so texture-wise there was already a huge difference.  It's still draped over a dashi (出汁) meringue, and you've still got yuzu zest shavings, a kombu (昆布) sauce, and a little dab of ginger gel.

This was Gaggan's tribute to Amano-san at Tenzushi (天寿司) in Fukuoka, but my friend the Tenzushi regular wasn't so impressed.  As for me, tonight I wasn't so taken with the citrus flavors, either.

Winter carrots 🥕 pepper soup - black carrots, cumin, and black salt.  This was very savory with lots of cumin and a bit of heat.  I loved this as it instantly warmed the body and felt comforting.

River prawn 🦐 balchao - tiger prawn from the south of Thailand.  The sauce was fruity with some acidity, so we wondered whether there was tamarind in there - although a true Goan balchaão would be tomato-based.  It was beautiful and also got some heat.  The powder on the side was actually more spicy.

Scallops 🥥 cold curry - YASSS!!! Another dish I love from Gaggan.  I really love the combination, with the coconut milk emulsion, chili oil, curry leaf oil, ginger... and now we've got sea grapes and a tuile on the side for texture.  This was a bit more salty than I remembered, but sooooo good.

I was a little surprised that the Compatriot didn't care for this.  I guess he felt that the sweetness of the raw scallops from Hokkaido had been overpowered by the curry flavors.  Hey, next time I'm taking his portion...

As an aside, this was the first course tonight which required utensils.  Previously everything could be picked up using one's fingers.

Tibetan momo 🥟 pork vindaloo - this looked a little different from the version I had last year, but a very tasty bite.  The wrapper was still done with Indian black garlic.  Nice spicy kick with acidity in the broth.

Lamb chop 🍋 lemon chili - the lamb chop has always been really good, and I was so, soooo happy to have it again.  Tonight this was marinated in green masala and cooked sous vide (as always), then you've got some lemon zest shavings.  On the side was a little bit of chili and yuzu purée, so it's somewhat akin to yuzukosho (柚子胡椒).

Just look at that!  Enough of that tasty fat, with those beautiful chili and spices.

It was suggested that we take this in one bite, so we asked our Japanese server for a demonstration...  She did not oblige us...

2006 Werlitsch Ex Vero III - a hint of toast, honey, and marmalade.  Very ripe on the palate.

Sea bass 🔥 Bengali paturi - Thai sea bass rubbed with Bengali mustard curry with chili and coriander, wrapped in cedar paper inside banana leaf.  Then the whole package is torched to release the aromatics.

Tonight the fish tasted a little more muddy. 

2010 Ponsot Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru Cuvée des Alouettes - leather and stewed fruit notes.  A little tannic.

Grandmas egg spinach 🌟 my Death Star - so finally it was my turn to try out the "Death Star"... We were asked to mix the egg yolk into the spinach curry, then spoon basmati rice into the mixture.  Yum.

This rose 🌹 has no thorns - I was surprised that they didn't play "Every Rose has its Thorn" by Poison.  The red rose was made with beetroot while the white rose - for those of us who don't like beetroot - was made with daikon (大根).

Achu murukku 🍓 strawberry yogurt - tonight the crunchy rose cookies were filled with a jam made with Amaou (あまおう) strawberries, which were soooo tasty and sweet.  The yogurt ice cream helped bring some acidity to the mix.  What a wonderful (one) bite!

Ying yang salt ☯️ pepper popcorn - the cookie was pretty dense and savory with salted caramel, and the pepper ice cream delivered a hint of heat.

Dark Side 🌈 of the Moon - I've seen pictures of this dish many times and I was looking forward to this, but the reality looked slightly underwhelming... I was also a little surprised that the portable speakers were playing "Money" instead of "Brain Damage", but whatever.  The "prism" was actually a coffee sponge cake frozen in liquid nitrogen.

This was another really good meal here, and I'm glad that everyone enjoyed the experience tonight.  In fact the Compatriot was with me for my very first taste of Gaggan's cuisine at the Hong Kong pop-up in 2014.  In spite of the bongwater before dinner, it seemed that my Austrian friend enjoyed himself, too.

It was very, very late and Hello Kitty was exhausted, so I asked A for the bill.  Much to my surprise (NOT!) there was nothing inside when I opened up the check presenter.  Once again I have failed to pay for my meal here, so we left a reasonable tip and made a quick exit as the Grab driver arrived pretty quickly.  I felt bad that Vladi had to run after us to say goodbye, but we figured we'd see him again in a few hours, anyway...

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