Friday, October 29, 2021

The Full Experience

When we came to Ando for lunch with a few friends who were first time visitors to the restaurant, I asked Julien and Agustin, manager and chef, to "show them the full Ando experience". Well, they did exactly that, and putting us in the comfortable private room with a view of the kitchen certainly made this a good start too. 

And we left just about everything in the fine hands of the Ando team (except the wine which we picked from their menu ourselves), and they again delivered above our expectation. This time we began with the pair of tartlets – I like the slight hint of sweetness in the one filled with chickpea puree and topped with Iberico ham. The familiar (and super delicious) beef tartare was next, topped with Manchego cheese foam and plenty of Kristal caviar, and underneath it was avocado puree seasoned with yuzu-kosho. I love the beef (from Argentina of course) with a nice bouncy bite and rich meaty flavor. 

Next was a perfect summer course - in a deep dish was a few pieces of Spanish small prawns, served with ribbons of celtuce and a yellow pepper sauce. The clean and refreshing taste of the prawns worked well with the equally refreshing bell pepper with a hint of grassy flavor. The lovely quintet of “raw seafood selection” was always enjoyable and an integral part of their menu these days, and this time my favorite was the hirame served with a ginger-infused soy sauce. The flavor combination was just on the mark. 

Chef Agustin then brought us something not yet on the menu for a sneak preview, with the seared Hokkaido scallops served with pumpkin puree and long beans. And what set aside this dish was the miso sauce underneath. The double whammy of sweetness from that of the miso and pumpkin was a surprise, and that paired well with the scallops for the lovely seasonal taste. Going back to the menu course with the piece of seabass served with romesco sauce and piquillo peppers, olives and sundried tomatoes on the side – we had a similar version last time, but with the firmer seabass there’s more of a smoky flavor.

Our main was beef and mushroom – dry-aged Hereford beef charcoal grilled and served with a piece of oyster mushrooms and more assorted mushrooms on the side. And then there were more mushrooms – I knew what’s coming when Julien showed up with a wooden box. We approached the annual white truffle season and they decided to shower us slices of this prized ingredient on top of the dish. Still early in the season with the white truffles milder in aroma and probably a few more weeks too early from its peak, but one can’t still go wrong with that and I appreciate the generous touch. 

Must have been the first time I didn’t ask for a second serving of the Caldoso rice, this time served with the Brittany blue lobster – it was great but I was so stuffed by then. But of course, that didn’t stop us from getting the full dessert courses, including the maple syrup ice-cream “cake” with coffee glaze, the new item on the menu, and the gorgeous range of mignardises – I love the mochi wrapped mango the most this time. 

Started with the bottle of champagne poured by Carlito their new sommelier – medium to full bodied, very bubbly, faint floral aroma, ripe stone fruits, good yeasty notes. Not everyday when we came across wines from Slovakia, so we decided to go for a pinot noir from Strekov 1075 winery. Medium-bodied, straight forward red fruits, typical cold-weather pinot, hint of earthiness underneath and seems to open up towards the end. 

More photos here:

When? October 9 2021
Where?  Ando, 1/F, Somptueux Central, 52 Wellington St, Central
Menu Highlights? Risas del Jardin - Charcoaled dry-aged Hereford beef, mushroom, yuzu kosho, white truffles
Champagne Charles Dufour Bulles de Comptoir #9 Tradition MV (Disgorged Jan 2021)
2019 Strekov 1075 Pinot Noir, Nitra, Slovakia

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