August 12, 2019

One night from Bangkok

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This wasn't a dinner I was gonna miss.  I had practically been shouting at the top of my lungs from the table during my dinner at Chef's Table at lebua.  My old friend Vincent Thierry was delivering what I felt to be an experience worthy of the coveted 3 macarons, and I wanted all my friends to know.  I was so, so, so happy for him.

So when Maxime told me that Vincent was coming to do a 4-hands collaboration at Écriture, I wasted no time in saying 'Yes', and got myself a table for the one-day event.  I also roped in DaRC and RoRo to join us.

It amazes me how some service staff just have the ability to piss people off.  I was getting messages from Hello Kitty even before I arrived at the restaurant, telling me how they were being served by a condescending Caucasian waitstaff.  The ladies were, not surprisingly, thirsty on a hot summer night.  Knowing that DaRC and I would take care of the wine selection, they wanted to order something by the glass.  Apparently the menu only showed Champagne by the glass, and while the ladies discussed whether they wanted the fruity cocktails (read: girlie drinks) mentioned by the waitstaff, said waitstaff proceeded to suggest that the ladies could take some non-alcoholic cocktails.  Bad mistake.

Then said waitstaff did something even worse.  He was condescending when introducing the selection of Champagnes.  The ladies felt insulted, as said waitstaff spoke in a manner where he assumed that the ladies knew nothing about Champagne.  What he ended up doing was pissing off two people who drink pretty good wines on a regular basis.  And he brought back Hello Kitty's memories of the last time a French white man was being condescending to her.

I arrived to find both ladies seething, so I tried to calm things down a little.  After DaRC arrived, we were finally ready to start our meal.

The usual tater tots came to kick off dinner.

The little buckwheat cracker carried a cube of cauliflower mousse covered in nori (海苔) powder.  Topped with confit (?) of baby sardines (ちりめんじゃこ).

The potato chip came as a loop, with coriander hummus, herbs and flowers like marigold.  This was kinda nice, and I felt as if I were eating ham...

Iwashi - the raw fillets of sardines from Osaka Bay sat on top of a bed of local peas, pickled cucumbers, elderflowers, and elderflower oil, and elderflower cream.  While the sardines were delicious and the elderflowers delivered lovely floral notes, the peas were simply too raw and green.  It's a shame because had they cooked them a little more and brought out the sweetness, it would have been an awesome dish.

King crab tiramisu, marinated tandoori fruits, Marscapone cream - my initial reaction - clearly based on my hazy memory - was that this had shrunk in size on the way over from Bangkok.  But after checking my photos from a few months ago and referencing the size of the chives and chili powder, I wasn't sure I was right.  Vincent did tell me that they brought the molds from Bangkok, so I guess if anything actually shrank, it was probably my brain...

The flavors of the peppers were nice, but they seemed a little more mushy compared to Bangkok.  The Marscapone tonight did seem to deliver a bit more creaminess, and the dots and lines of coconut sauce, bell pepper sauce, and king crab bisque on the side did their job of providing additional flavors.

Caviar - here we go again... curing "Royal Cristal Caviar" from Royal Caviar Club with ham made from Rubia Galega beef.

The caviar was still salty but everything seemed more balanced tonight, even though we apparently got a bit more caviar than a 'regular' serving.  The bone marrow soufflé did a good job of balancing things with its creaminess.  This time we also had morning glory stems in addition to the leaves, so the additional crunchy texture was pretty nice.

Scottish langoustine and sweetbread lasagne, tomato and fennel confit, light shellfish emulsion - another well-known classic from Vincent that he's showing tonight.  Now with confit and fresh tomato, fennel confit, parsley encased inside the round disc of lasagne, and topped with fennel flower.  The shellfish emulsion was still nice.

Brittany turbot, lemon verbena infused violon zucchini, pistachio puree - the turbot was infused with lemon and verbena, and came with some diced avocado, lemon, and extra virgin olive oil.  We also had a purée of zucchini and fresh almonds.

Unfortunately, there was an issue with the turbot itself.  The flesh was a little bit mushy, and just didn't seem very fresh.  While it wasn't to the point of being inedible, the texture just wasn't right.  Very disappointing, and none of us finished the dish.

Kuro awabi - as usual the abalone was simmered with sake, daikon (大根) and kombu (昆布).  Very nice and springy texture.  Came on top of some eggplant caviar and tomato, and there were a couple of slices of cured Rubia Galega.  As usual we had the sauce made with abalone liver, Dijon mustard, and soy sauce.  This was very intense and delicious, but also really salty.  The "condensed" eggplant sauce seemed a bit diluted.

Challans duck fillet, sweet spices, artichoke, rocket salad and sage - imagine my surprise when I was told that my duck came with cornflakes on top... The artichokes and arthichoke purée were not a surprise.

The duck was very good.  I was a happy camper.

Cherry tatin - the tart was apparently made with two types of cherries, and came with some fresh almonds as well as... you guess it... GOLD FOIL!!!!

Very delish, even without à la mode or the sauce.

Japanese citrus - layers of chocolate biscuits with white chocolate sorbet and kumquat sorbet.

Japanese melon - much, much better than what I had a few months ago.  At least this was super ripe and sweet.

Chocolate tart - I know that waiter was trying to do his job and follow the script for the restaurant's theatrics, but as he had already pissed us off at the beginning, I got annoyed when he was trying to show off the "ooh! There's a chocolate tart inside a book!" trick.  Been there, done that.

Chocolate tart soufflé - even though we just had a chocolate tart, Maxime sent over their chocolate tart soufflé.  This was, of course, very good.

There was a suggested wine pairing, but DaRC and I decided we would just pick out a few bottles and drink what we felt like.

2006 Kongsgaard Chardonnay - opened and decanted 1 hour and 45 minutes before serving.  Lots of big toasty oak, flinty, and nice acidity on the palate.  In very good condition and very lively.

2004 Prieuré-Roch Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru - opened 2½ hours prior to serving.  This was sooooo fucking fragrant, with strawberries and leather.  So sweet with black cherry notes.  Beautiful nose.  A bit short on the finish, though.

1999 Jamet Côte-Rôtie - decanted 3 hours and 40 minutes before serving.  Very savory and mineral, with black olives, Puer tea, and smoky notes.  Probably over-decanted and breathed too long, as there wasn't enough fruit now.  A little disappointing.

This was a very long dinner... we were there for about 4 hours, and all got kinda tired. It wasn't as good as we had hoped, but then again, no pop-up ever is. I was happy to see my friend Vincent and lend him some support, and I was glad that his hotel was already working on an alternative plan for him to leave Hong Kong the next morning.

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