Saturday, December 21, 2019

Night of Glamour

For the past few years, Michelin Gala Dinner has been one event that I am particularly excited about during the festive December. There's everything that makes this the perfect evening - the excitement, the drama, the glam, the chance to dress up, to mingle, to chit-chat and gossip, and of course, the wine and food that's served.

This year's announcement and gala dinner event was held only a week before Christmas, which added to the joyous mood - barring those disappointed with the results, I guess. Not much has changed from previous years, except this time I managed to leave work early and made it to the press conference in the afternoon when the awards were revealed. Not a lot of surprises, but I was particularly happy that Arbor got its second star - kudos to Chef Eric Raty and his team. They put us up at Grand Hyatt again for the night - this time with the corner room on the high floor so got an okay view of the hotel and fancy water fountains from across the street.

I was happy to see so many friends at the gala dinner in the evening and to catch up, and I like the sustainability theme of the event with special attention to minimize any environmental impact with what they used and served. And there's the usual program with lots of photo opportunities and musical performances at the start and towards the end.

A few dishes in the seven course menu were remarkable. We started with the cold appetizer of blue lobster and caviar from the kitchen of Alain Ducasse at Morpheus. Not so sure if the gold foil on top has anything to do with the sustainability theme but it sure added to the sense of luxury presentation in this fail-safe combination of ingredients. I had the same salmon dish (lightly smoked, coated with watercress cream) at Chef Fabrice's restaurant The Tasting Room a few months ago and was super impressed that he managed to replicate the same dish with the same level of details in an event setting which required perfect timing and absolute consistency. That's delivered way above my expectation. I also enjoyed Chef Au Yeung's dish of beef cheek and abalone from the three Michelin-starred Jade Dragon. May not be the most conventional Chinese dishes but it sure was delicious with both beef and abalone done with the right texture, topped with some white truffles for the extra aroma and for the show.

A few guest chefs from overseas made an experience in the evening with mixed results. I thought the "umami soup" from Chef Kunio Tokuoka of Kitcho Arashiyama in Kyoto was decent, with rich flavor from a meatless stock with mixed mushrooms and topped with puffed rice and edible flower petals. On the other hand, I wasn't much a fan of the steamed pork dumpling - seems like an over-do with the delicate bird's nest, sea urchins, and Alaska king crab leg that's being thrown on - or the potato, white chocolate and caviar dish towards the end (let's just take it needed an acquired taste to appreciate)

Each dish was paired with one wine and they were well-chosen. The new champagne line from Maison Mumm was great with creamy texture with a hint of toast and good acidity, working well with the first course of caviar and lobster, and I also like the Sauternes as the finale - well aged, full-bodied with a lot of honey and caramel on the palate and some Christmas spices towards the end, showing more than what the critic's score has suggested.

We finished with a stylish dessert by Pierre Herme called Ultime, with chocolate presented in various forms, served inside a "chocolate pod" made of chocolate with a quenelle of vanilla icecream. That's the work which deserves a standing ovation with the best presentation and outstanding textures and flavor. And regardless of the results, with so many challenges faced by many this year, I am sure most of us in attendance were just glad that for one night we could put those behind us momentarily, and before chefs and restaurants got their plate full again at the busiest time of the year right ahead.

(The event was by invitation. More photos in my Flickr album:

When? December 17 2019
Where? Grand Hyatt at City of Dreams, Estrada do Istmo City of Dreams, Macau
Menu Highlights? Lightly Smoked Salmon, Watercress Cream, Acidulated Beetroot
Maison Mumm RSRV Cuvee 4.5 NV
2017 Xacier Monnot Meursault "Les Chevalieres"
2017 Weingut Wittmann Riesling Trocken
2016 Chateau La Nerthe Chateauneuf-du-Pape
2016 Domain Arlaud Gevrey Chambertin
2014 Alter Ego de Palmer
1996 Chateau Rieussec
Michelin Guide:
City of Dreams:

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