GOOD things come in small packages and this aptly describes British chef Ryan Clift’s brand of cuisine.
Usually presiding over his own restaurant, Tippling Club in Singapore, Clift was in town recently at the Mandarin Grill in Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur as guest chef for a special three-day-only gourmet escape of epic proportions.
Well known for his modern molecular food, Clift’s focus is on innovative dishes that demonstrate skill, creativity and technique without compromising on flavour.
While many of his dishes feature elements of Asia, Clift said he does not believe in food trends.
“I don’t really follow them – I never have, and I never will.
“It’s not so much about fusion cuisine, but rather about borrowing some influences and offering diners something they are familiar with in a new way,” he said during dinner.
With nine courses to indulge in, the meal was a feast for the senses.
We started off with four appetisers comprising bite-sized snacks to whet the appetite.
From the Charred-Smoked Red Peppers with Soy Wasabi Sauce; Tom Yam Curry Mousse with Coriander Tempura and Grated Coconut; Prawn Crackers with Green Pea Powder and Garlic Aioli to the Tomato Basil Gazpacho, each had us in ecstasy and yearning for just one more bite.
We still had eight more dishes to look forward to.
Next up was the Kingfish Carpaccio, paired with Japanese Yamagata Masamune Junmai sake.
The fish, prepared sous-vide with seaweed and black radish and thinly sliced, had a stunning mosaic pattern.
It was finished off with a garnish of cucumber, refreshing yuzu-cucumber sorbet, black radish, rice crackers and micro herbs.
The saltiness of the fish was offset by the sake which was smooth, crisp and dry.
This was a well thought out dish with every element meticulously chosen and prepared.
One of Clift’s signature dishes was the Razor Clams with Purple Brittany Garlic Soup with Parsley Puree and Parsley Tuilee.
This was paired with the Pazo de Barrantes Albarino 2013, a Spanish white wine with a fruity and floral finish.
The aromatic wine helped cut through the meatiness of the clams so that the flavour profiles were revealed in each spoonful.
We then moved on to the Foie Gras with Apple Textures and Gaufrette Biscuit.
I loved how the silky foie gras mousse was paired with tart apples instead of sauteed or caramelised sweet fruits.
The crunch of the biscuitte gave the dish plenty of texture.
This was paired with a beautiful effervescent German Dr Loosen Riesling Kabinett 2013.
The slight injection of carbon dioxide into the bottle was able to break through the thickness of the foie gras.
One of the favourites of the night was the Snapper with Green Curry, Tom Kha Veloute and Black Puff Rice.
A hallmarkof modernist cooking, the tom kha was treated as foam which allowed diners to feel the different textures in their mouth but still retaining its tartness.
We washed this down with a glass of crisp South Australia Penfolds Riesling 2014.
We finished off our savoury courses with the Salmon with Nuka Vegetables, Nori and Cinnamon Dashi and the Toriyama Wagyu with Horseradish Burrata, Japanese Fruit Tomato and Pickled Artichoke.
Accompanying both dishes were the Hervé Souhaut Domaine Romaneaux-Destezet 2011 from France and New Zealand Shingle Peak Pinot Noir 2013, respectively.
While you may think we could not possibly have another morsel by this point, the best was yet to come.
For dessert, lush blackberries took centre stage in Clift’s Blackberry Financier where the slightly tart fruit was offset by dollops of yoghurt and sweet lychee and celery granita.
What would a dish that took over a year to develop taste like? A taste of heaven, of course.
The confection of Textured Milk may look simple but Clift said it took him numerous tries to get the dessert right.
The minimalistic presentation highlights the sago with coconut milk, yogurt sorbet, macadamia nut milk marshmallow, eggless almond milk meringue and crispy lactose.
MANDARIN GRILL, Lobby Level, Mandarin Oriental, Kuala Lumpur, KL City Centre, Kuala Lumpur. (Tel: 03-2330 8797/ 8798). Business hours: Noon to 2.30pm; 7pm to 10.30pm, daily. Pork-free.
This is the writer’s personal observation and is not an endorsement by StarMetro.