Sunday, September 5, 2021

Spoiled by Chef

We felt we are always spoiled by Chef Agustin and his team at Ando whenever we dined there, with the only problem being getting a table at this busy restaurant is becoming increasingly challenging. Well, we managed to get a lunch booking a few weeks ago - just the two of us on a Saturday for no particular occasion. We opted for the shorter of the two set menus available for lunch service (bearing in mind we had an early dinner planned) but at the end, we had a few additional dishes on top of that and we were properly stuffed.

The team made small variations to the dishes from time to time and based on seasonal ingredients, but they largely followed the similar order, with each dish telling a story of Chef's personal culinary journey. That began with a pair of nibbles, including the duck breast monaka and mushroom tartlet, served alongside with a palate cleanser of vinaigrette jelly with zucchini brunoise. Beef tartare was our official first course, with chopped aged Argentinian beef served as tartare in a deep dish with yuzu kosho, manchego espuma and kristal caviar on top, with a nice combination of rich flavors and a refreshing touch. We had this before at the restaurant but feels like they have made little twists to it, this time with a slightly lighter texture and added acidity.

Next was the prawn, also from Argentina, just gently cured to highlight its original flavor, and on the side was the rich basil sauce for the contrasting taste, and radish, lemon zest and scallions as garnish. "Partir", the course with five different raw seafood served on a hexagonal earthenware plate, has become a signature at the restaurant, but they did vary the choice of seafood and preparation. This time I did enjoy the karei (flounder), normally a fish with mild flavor but it's dressed with vinaigrette and a touch of jalepeno for the kick. 

After the elaborative bread course (which they started using sourdough from a local bakery as opposed to importing from Spain as they did before), Chef Agustin dropped by our table holding the whole Hokkaido kinki fish on a wooden board. Then he carved into individual plates in front of us to serve. One can't ask for a better grilled fish anywhere, with the skin perfectly crisped and the meat just done with the most delicate texture and fatty taste. On the side was the equally delightful piquillo pepper and the rich romesco sauce. 

Quail was another new dish that we tried for the first time, and the combination of corn and pumpkin sauce added to the Latin American flair which made it interesting. "Sin Lola" is another of Ando's signature that I fear Chef Agustin was not able to take out from the menu ever, and this time, our casserole of caldoso rice was served with Brittany blue lobster and chistorra - clearly he gave us an "upgrade" which we didn't mind. I always asked for a refill for this course (who wouldn't?) but this time I had to ask for a bigger one - wait, did I mention about our early dinner plan? 

Luckily, the dessert was a light one this time but delicious as usual, with a mini meringue sphere filled with kyoho grape and yogurt and served with mango sauce underneath, and afterwards it's the petit fours served ceremoniously from a wooden box. 

Went with a pair of glasses this time. Always good with a Krug to start, and then it's the natural wine from Germany from their extensive by-glass wine menu. Crisp and medium bodied, some minerals, ripe lemon and grassy on the palate. 

More photos:

When? August 7 2021
Where? Ando, 1/F, Somptueux Central, 52 Wellington St, Central
Menu Highlights? Hokkaido Kinki Fish, Piquillo Pepper, Romesco Sauce
Krug Grande Cuvee 168eme Edition Brut MV
2019 Bianka & Daniel Schmitt Parzellas Weissburgunder, Rhinehessen Germany

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