Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Remodeled Takumi

Recently I had the opportunity to try Chef Daisuke Mori’s cooking at his restaurant Takumi in Wanchai, which went through some slight renovations to keep the venue afresh. The restaurant, with counter-only seating tucked away on the ground floor of an apartment building, joined a handful of other places around town serving a genre of French cuisine with Japanese influence (or the other way round, depends on how you see it)


I arrived early for our lunch booking, and got the opportunity to see Chef Mori-san and his team making final preparation for the service. Most of the cooking was done in the open kitchen with both the open-fire stoves and hot plate and less than a dozen seats were available just around the kitchen counter allowing customers to get up close and personal with all the cooking action.

We went for the longer lunch option this time, with 6 courses including amuse-bouche and dessert, and we made our own choices for appetizer and main courses. To start we were served a trio of amuse-bouche bites, with sakura ebi tartare served in a small ceramic spoon, then Jerusalem artichoke espuma and crisp in a small glass, and a deep-fried wagyu beef “ravioli” which reminds me of a samosa in texture. That was followed by Sumi-ika, my choice of first course. The baby squid was given a gentle grill off the hot plate and served with a bed of spring onion cream, dabs of sea urchin/uni mousse, dried seaweed powder and dots of plum sauce. I love the complex yet harmonious taste and a good chewy bite of the squid sliced in bite-size chunks. It has a simple yet neat plating too – Chef Mori-san made it looked so effortless putting the dish together right in front of us.


Our next course was a barley risotto with morel mushrooms and lotus root foam. I remembered having something similar in our last visit and it’s very enjoyable. You just couldn’t fault the combination of the rich and creamy morel mushroom sauce mixed with the slightly crunchy barley grains. I also loved the seafood course which came next. Bamboo shoots is right in season at this time of the year and often used in traditional Kaiseki meal, but here, it’s poached and then grilled, giving it a clean but smoky flavor, contrasted with the sweet tomato coulis and a fillet of pan-fried kuromutsu, or blue fish which was also in season.

Three choices of main courses were equally attractive, and at the end we all opted for a different one. Mine was Wagyu, the signature item of the restaurant. I was amazed at how Chef Mori-san prepared the dish. The thick slab of beef tenderloin (coming from Saga prefecture) was given minimal seasoning with just a touch of salt, and was placed on top of Binchotan grill to “slow-cook” for over 30 minutes. Common knowledge called for high temperature to lock in the meat juice inside with a charred crust, but the slow-grilling did wonder to the wagyu which was super marbled with fat. It’s almost effortless to cut through the grain of the meat and it was full of meaty flavor. With excellent meat like that the side vegetables were almost like an after-thought, but the shallot purees did well to add to the flavor and neutralized the fatty taste.

Dessert was a simple one – rose ice-cream with cracked meringues, yogurt mousse and fruit coulis. Nothing too fancy but delicious nonetheless. A pity I need to rush off soon after I finished my last bite of dessert and the petit fours, but it was overall a satisfying meal - not only for the food, but just to see the chefs cooking up a storm in such cozy space and in such leisurely pace.

(Meal was by invitation and paid for by the restaurant - opinions were my own though. More pictures can be found in my Flickr album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/g4gary/albums/72157679997988722)

When? April 13 2017
Where? Takumi by Daisuke Mori, Shop 1, G/F, The Oakhill,16 Wood Road, Wan Chai
Menu Highlights? Charcoal Grilled Wagyu Tenderloin with Shallot Puree, Garlic Confit and Sucrine Lettuce
Web: http://wagyutakumi.com/


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