The dinner isn’t strictly divided into phases, but the hint that we are past the appetizer round is when sweetbreads hit the table.
This variation is crunchy fried, sitting atop noodles made by finely slicing king oyster mushrooms. It’s technically impressive, with textures thought-provoking and the flavours unique, if not earth shatteringly good. A banana molasses sauce is drizzled and the dish accented by pickled ginger.
Next up is the fish course – Tai snapper covered with apple salsa and bits of coffee. It’s sitting on a julienne of Asian pear and a tiny, flat onion tart. The sauce is some sort of red pepper, smeared using the dreaded spoon drag. The fish is fine, the apple and Asian pear flavours and textures are too similar and somewhat distracting together, and I don’t read any coffee flavour. The onion tart at the bottom was rather good and the best thing on the plate.
The-meat-that-flies dish is quail formed into a tiny medallions, surrounded by what appears and tastes like the quail skin. Sauced with nasturium yogurt and accompanied by turnip. The quail itself is tasty enough and we are left wondering how this was assembled. The sauce was fine, but the turnip was somewhat overpowering.
The entrees are clearly being served in order of heaviness and concluded by the-meat-that-walks. It’s a loin of lamb with the skin on, seared to crispy. It’s accompanied by a take on “red beans and rice” and chayote squash, which to me, tastes a lot like marinated daikon. The lamb meat itself is medium-rare and tender and a nice contrast from the super stiff and crispy skin, but there is too much subcutaneous fat for my liking.
Finally, we’re onto dessert. The first dish is named simply with a list of ingredients. Anything more, would give away some of the surprise in the dish. Buttermilk, sake, plum, cider. It’s the phase of each component that is most unexpected. The buttermilk and sake are solids, frozen with liquid nitrogen and crumbled. The plum cider is a gel and carries neutron star-like flavour density. It’s a fantastic counterpoint to the cold, smooth, icy, milky solid.
The next dessert is also described by component. Apricot, buckwheat, watermelon, green tea. Again, it’s a completely unexpected combination of states of matter here. The apricot is a gelled disc, the buckwheat is ice cream, the green tea formed into a creamy foam and the watermelon is in its standard format, i.e. solid. Eating each component is interesting, but also somewhat disconcerting. Especially the ice cream that tastes like wheat. Put together, I quickly figure out the intention – it’s a rearranged apricot crumble. This is very, very unexpected and entertaining.
The last dessert is soft chocolate, beet, long pepper and ricotta ice cream. Another dish where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The chocolate looks to be solid ribbon, but molds and melts on the spoon like some sort of icing. The beets are frozen solid and also smeared on the plate. The ricotta ice cream is an exception, as it can stand on it’s own. It makes me wonder why nobody has invented a ricotta gelato flavour. It would sell like crazy. Put together, the whole thing is sublime – both rich and refreshing and strong statement to cap off the meal.
At the end of it all, we were left with some really inventive appetizers, insane desserts and entrees that while delicious, were somewhat tame. It was an enjoyable meal nonetheless, and a rather good value (if one can fathom a $140 tasting menu in such a manner). There were eleven courses in all, with the majority of them being rather tasty and quite innovative, both in concept and execution. The entrees were somewhat disappointing only standing next to their crackpot predecessors and successors. We leave feeling full, not just from the meal, but from the full-on mind frakking molecular gastronomy experience.
I’d go again.