Monday, January 25, 2016

The Tasting Lunch by Galliot

After making two whistle stops in old town Macau for a classic cha chaan teng followed by a new artisan cafe in the morning, we hopped on a cab and headed to the City of Dreams complex in Taipa for our lunch reservation at The Tasting Room.

City of Dreams is one of the "newer" gaming complexes located in the reclaimed land off Macau now known as The Cotai Strip, with three top hotels, several floor of casino space, a large shopping mall and numerous dining outlets. Those who have been following the Michelin Guide keenly would notice they were one of the biggest winners in the current Hong Kong/Macau version of the book, with one new restaurant getting their first star, and two others got elevated into the two-star category, one of them being The Tasting Room. (we actually ended up trying all three restaurants over the weekend, more on that later)

The lunch was actually the main activity of our quick food crawl across town, thanks to our Macau friend and "guide" J's kind arrangement, and it turned out to be as fabulous as I have expected. Of course it helped when J's husband Guillaume Galliot is the head chef of the restaurant. I am sure being recognized as "friends of the chef" got us in the good book of the front-of-the-house staff team and for a number of off-menu perks delivered our way throughout the meal.

We knew we were in the good hands of Chef Guillaume even before he came out later to say hi, to the extent we didn't even bother flipping through the menu to see what's on when we were told he already thought of a few dishes for us. First to arrive was a bowl of egg and potato espuma with scores of colorful ingredients finely diced and spread on top added to the expressive flavors and texture. Of course, such combination is no longer considered that avant garde these days but we still enjoyed the spoonful of oozy egg yolks (cooked at 63 degrees Celsius if I wasn't mistaken) combined with the soft and warm aerated potato cream mixed with grated black truffles, finely-chopped chives, bacon crumbles and caramelized onions. It's rich and sweet and filled with the earthy truffle aroma.

Our second dish tasted as good as it looked. Once again, it's a classic combination of picked crab meat with dots of avocado cream, dollops of caviar, bits of cucumber and in the middle, a quenelle of granny smith sorbet. Underneath the crab meat was more cucumber in the form of jelly and all these were nicely arranged in layers in a fancy glass dome carried to us ceremoniously. Well, I personally thought the cucumber jelly was a bit too light to be noticeable (perhaps a touch of lemongrass would have helped to bring something additional?), but overall the flavor was great, especially the tartness of apple combined with the umami tastes from that of the crab and the caviar.

The soup may have been a simple dish but Chef Guillaume still managed to present it beautifully with a combination of celeriac root puree and mushroom veloute, and on top, some parmigiano-reggiano emulsion, black winter truffles and some toasted hazelnuts. It's a comforting winter soup course and the nuttiness from that of the hazelnuts was a clever touch.

The execution for the fish course was simply flawless with all the ingredients cooked perfectly and worked well together. In the middle of the deep dish lied a piece of line-caught Brittany turbot fillet which has been sous-vided to a silky, delicate texture. On top were tiny bits of couscous and cauliflower adding to the texture, and on the side, lobster bisque sauce and zucchini mash. On the rim of the dish was a little side "dish" of razor clam salad, with the quick-blanched razor clams served with bits of citrus fruits accented by some caviar. Both were tasty in their own right.

Our duck main course was an interesting one. I loved how the duck was cooked - the meat was of top-notch quality with a good gamey taste and once again cooked sous vide to the perfect done-ness. I also liked the candied almond and ginger crumbles on top for a hint of crunchy sweetness and the eggplant caviar on the side for the earthy flavor. Only thing I wasn't so sure about was the soft potato "gnocchi" on the side - they tasted fine along with the shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, just that I wasn't 100% convinced of the combination. I was looking for something crunchy rather than soft and creamy, I guess.

I admit we were too spoiled with having excellent cheeses regularly and with that in mind, while we thought the selection here may not be the best we have had, we still enjoyed the choices and in all fairness, they were excellent. My favorite one of the seven presented was the mimolette - it's not the richest type, but got good texture.

Dessert was another beautifully constructed dish and one loaded with citrus flavors. It's a bitter lemon curd "tart" with meringues, segments of blood oranges, lemon cream and a neat floral chamomile sorbet. A refreshing course consistent with the rest of our meal.

Not knowing what dishes we were getting I went blindly with a tried-and-true Chablis by a familiar winemaker, picked from their decently comprehensive wine list. Love the unmistakable minerality and the ripe stone fruit flavors on the palate. Turned out the wine worked especially well with the two seafood courses with the caviar, though I kinda regretted not going for the wine pairing option as the staff suggested.

For the longest time The Tasting Room was one restaurant that I always wanted to visit but never had the chance, and I am glad we finally made the trip to come over this time for a memorable meal. It's as good as I anticipated and true to the reputation of being one of the finest in Macau.

There are more pictures of the restaurant and the meal at my Flickr album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/g4gary/albums/72157661320073794

When? January 16 2016
Where? The Tasting Room by Galliot, Level 3, Crown Towers, City of Dreams, Macau
Menu Highlights? "Turbot, Couscous, Cauliflower, Bisque, Zucchini"
Drinks? 2011 Domaine William Fevre Chablis Premier Cru Vaillons
Web: www.cityofdreamsmacau.com/en/dining/detail/tasting-room

(Macau Food Crawl - Part 2)

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