Sunday, March 19, 2023

Fine Dining in the Basement

The setting of Artifact may not fit the usual definition of "fine dining" - diners literally sat across an open kitchen/bar in the area amongst other food stalls inside the new Basehall 2 complex at the basement of Jardine House, but I was impressed with the dishes presented by Chef Sato Kiyoshi and his team at a dinner there recently. 

While the set-up were vaguely reminiscent to the casual Japanese yatai stall, the food was befittingly posh and polished, based on the concept of combining seasonal ingredients from Japan and luxurious caviar prepared in a contemporary, fusion cooking style.

We first started with some "small bites" served in a colorful sphere-shaped lacquer jubako box, and inside were three different bite-sized canapes paired with caviar. The piece of buri was served with Kaluga hybrid caviar, followed by Polmard beef tartar served in a crispy pastry roll and Imperial Ossetra caviar, and finally, the "takoyaki", or minced cuttlefish ball served with rakkyo onions. All beautifully plated and I liked the beef tatar the most, pairing the rich flavor from the land (beef) to that of the sea (caviar) perfectly. 

From the appearance, I would have mistaken our next course of scallop as lychee with the same rounded shape and color. It's mildly seasoned to go with the contrasting flavor of superior sturgeon caviar, daikon, apple and dashi jelly underneath. 

The carabineros course kicked up a notch in terms of richness, with Baerii Caviar on the side, along with a miso cream sauce, Ichigo strawberries, slightly charred orange and dots of seaweed-infused oil in the center. I also enjoyed the the piece of kinmedai (golden eye snapper) fillet which was pan-seared and served with fish-broth beurre blanc underneath, plus baby kabu and other root vegetables.

Not so much of a surprise with the wagyu done fusion style but it was well-executed. The piece of Kumamoto beef tenderloin was seared and served with sauteed maitake mushrooms, black garlic and kabu puree, soy and meat jus reduction and grated black truffles on top. The addition of kogomi (ostrich fern) was a nice touch as we are in the middle of traditional Japanese sansai (mountain vegetable) season and that brought a hint of earthy flavor to balance the fatty meat. The bowl of rice that served along with our main dish was amazing too with ikura (salmon roes) and soy cured-egg yolk on top. It was full of umami flavor and satisfying. 

The dessert courses were very elaborate, starting with yogurt espuma with yuzu and kiku (chrysanthemum) garnish, then one with milk and honey presented in various textures and forms (honey tuile, caramel cream, ginger ice-cream). All of which were super tasty. Wines were picked for us too and I liked their selection. My favorite was the bottle of Austrian Gruner Veltliner - with refreshing apple and plum on the palate and good acidity. 

(Meal was by invitation) 

When? February 28 2023
Where? Artifact, Basehall 2, LG/F, Jardine House, 1 Connaught Place, Central
Menu Highlights? Kinmedai, Kabu, Yuzu
Champagne R.H. Coutier Cuvee Tradition Grand Cru NV
2018 Joseph Mellot Le Troncsec Pouilly-Fume AOC
2018 Laurenz V. Charming Gruner Veltliner Reserve, Kamptal, Austria
2020 Bread & Butter Chardonnay, Napa Valley
2016 Domaine Clarendon Grenache Old Vines Grenache, Clarendon Hills, Australia

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