Saturday, March 13, 2021

Calling This A Series

We made the table booking at Ando in late February just as we finished our lunch on the Boxing Day 2 months ago. With another meal in between, that made it three in as many months that we had Chef Agustin’s food at his restaurant. And first time since they got their first Michelin star. 

With the relaxed rule now allowing us to eat in the group of four at a restaurant, they were kind enough to seat us in the private room with the big table. We missed out being in the vibrant dining area with the perfect view of the open kitchen, but then we got the privacy and through the little window on the side of the room we got the front row view of the pastry station where Chef Joanna and her team was at work. 

We opted for the shorter menu (called Presentación) worrying the longer one may be a bit much after a full month of eating due to Lunar New Year celebration, but at the end we had that plus a couple other off-menu dishes that team kindly sent over. One of those additional dishes was the first course, the beef tartare with caviar. It’s such a straight forward dish but with excellent flavor to show forth, with the chopped aged Angus beef topped with Kristal caviar and chive oil garnishes. I enjoyed the nice combination of textures and the umami taste. 

Another off-menu dish followed, which we were told was something they were planning to introduce soon. Chunks of fruit tomatoes were paired with thin slices of Awayuki Ichigo strawberries (known for its unique pink color that reminded me of the sakura blossoms), both from Fukuoka, and underneath, a dash of olive oil, chive oil and the strawberry and tomato water. It’s aromatic, refreshing and salivating with a light pinch of salt and the sugar garnish being the only seasoning they put in. Reckon this is a perfect spring season starter dish.  

The raw seafood “platter” was presented in the usual fancy manner, with Carabineros (red prawns), Hobo (John Dory), Hotate (sea scallops), Taichiuo (beltfish) and Akami (tuna) being in the line-up and in this order of richness. And this time, my favorites went to the two on the richer side, that is the Taichiuo with ginger, chives, yuzu and white soy sauce, and the Tuna in a nice tender texture served with nori seaweed. After the bread service (with three different kinds paired with three different kinds of whipped butter plus the olive oil), we had the blue lobster, gently poached and served with a piece of braised daikon and a bright color sauce made with a broth with chicken and Joselito ham bone. Putting in as garnishes were the crispy white kombu, cordycep flowers and nira (garlic chives). The sauce with a milder flavor worked well with the daikon and let the lobster taste shine and I thought the different textures in the dish were well planned out too.  

There were a choice of main courses and I went for the pork shoulder. The piece of meat (from Kumamoto) was well-cooked with perfect texture, tender with the pinkish center and a bouncy bite, and served with a piece of pork sausages (prepared Argentinian style, we were told) On the side was kabocha (butternut squash) and date purees, Chinese artichokes and the meat topped with chimichurri sauce based on chef's "secret" recipe. All these components coming from different backgrounds worked well together in one dish. The finale course of Caldoso was always the favorite part of the meal here, full of flavor and comforting with the rich broth cooked with baby squids and ham. 

The pastry team has upped their game with a tray of Mignardises served after the first course of dessert, which was crème caramel with sea salt ice cream. They were not only lovely to look at but very tasty too. If we could take them all home we would. We started with a glass of pear cider then went with a bottle from Sicily. Medium bodied, bright red fruits, not a lot of tannins but with good acidity – I did like it with the dishes we had. 

More in pictures in my Flickr album:

When? February 27 2021
Where? Ando, 1/F, Somptueux Central, 52 Wellington St, Central
Menu Highlights? "Una y Otra Vez"- blue lobster, daikon, Joselito ham, nira, black pepper
2018 Eric Bordelet Poire Granit
2017 Girolamo Russo “A’Rina” Etna Rosso

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