Whose cuisine reigns supreme?
Chef Hiroyuki Sakai of “Iron Chef” fame (the one who cooked French food, as opposed to the “Chinese” and “Japanese” Iron Chefs) came to Bangkok to bring his love of delicate flavors and vegetable flans to food-loving Thais. Last night, he held the second of three dinners at Maduzi Hotel (full disclosure: my husband’s family owns this hotel, but that didn’t save me from having to shell out the 7,500++ baht like everybody else.) Needless to say, I was excited; this is the closest I will probably ever get to Iron Chef without donning a poufy wig and cape.
"Seriously, guys--is there something in my teeth?"
And Chef Sakai totally delivered. His persnickety attention to detail, illustrated by his high hygienic standards (the kitchen was cleaned after every single course), was reflected in a series of perfectly turned-out dishes despite his having to cook for 60 covers. This somehow didn’t affect the pacing of the dishes, which reached perfection at around the end of the meal.
It kicked off with a completely smooth crab flan, reminiscent in texture of Japanese chawanmushi (egg custard), paired with a deep-fried crispy scallop and wasabi sauce to cut the fattiness.
crab flan with leek and courgette soup, deep-fried scallop and wasabi sauce
A parcel of foie gras came encased in a mashed potato shell and deep-fried into a golf ball, served atop a pool of truffle sauce and topped with a parmesan tuile.
foie gras croquette with truffle sauce
Sakai’s “signature” dish turned out to be a Thai freshwater prawn tail (the Brittany langoustines shipped to the hotel for the event were unfortunately not up to snuff) wrapped in threads of blanched zucchini, braided Bottega Veneta-style over the lightly poached flesh.
Langoustine wrapped in courgette
After that, grade 9++ Wagyu beef (apparently the highest grade there is, although I don’t understand why you can’t just suck it up and say “grade 10”) was smoked in the hotel kitchen and arrived to the table wrapped in bamboo skin like a Christmas present.
Lightly smoked Wagyu beef baked in bamboo skin
Finally, a mango custard came layered with a green tea foam and accompanied by a salty chocolate crepe, garnished with a pinch of candied orange peel.
Mango blanc manger and green tea espuma with chocolate crepe
But the best part of the meal, for me at least, was a cold hors d’oeuvre initially described in a preliminary menu as a dreary-sounding “turnip mousse”. What came out of the kitchen was a beautiful mixed custard of Kabu turnip and sea urchin, topped with Alaskan king crab, abalone, fan lobster and scallop chunks, ringed by turnip rounds and topped with a dollop of caviar. It was among the best dishes I’ve had in a while.
This dish is the bomb.
Final verdict? Totally worth it, even if I have to snack on streetside noodles for the rest of the month. I mean, that’s what I’m supposed to be here for, isn’t it?