I have always been fascinated with molecular gastronomy. I even hoped to witness and dine at one Hong Kong restaurant, featured in BBC food network. I seriously did try to squeeze in a date with hubby when we vacay in Hong Kong, just didn't happen for some reason.
Alas! When I thought all hope was lost and that the closest thing to see culinary magic is on Master Chef's competition, featuring Heston Blumenthal, a chance to go up-close and personal to the sorcery presented itself.
Umai in Nihonggo means delicious, that's according to fellow blogger Grace of www.sandierpastures.com, a fluent speaker of the language. The dishes are indeed delicious. Take away all the science hoopla that goes with it, Umai dishes are yummy-licious. From the dishes that went through some magic spells to a simple steamed dumpling, they were all beautifully prepared. They are concoctions that anyone will appreciate.
It's one thing to include theatrics in food preparation, it's another to keep each morsel off the plate... Umai's molecular tapas are just that. Delicious morsels.
The Oberoi Hotel's location is a little tricky for the time being due to construction going on. I still managed to find it through the saving voice of google map. My goodness! That was the first time I have ever trusted a strange voice, blindly. I just couldn't miss this chance to try out Umai and meet Chef Jeff Ramsey and see The Oberoi Hotel for the first time. The night was filled with a whole lot of firsts and adventure of all sorts.
As I entered the hotel, I saw Chef Ramsey's photo along with what's on offer at Umai until the 8th of November. I thought to myself, "this is definitely going to be a sold-out". (It is, by the way. I just tried to book yesterday morning and unfortunately all tables were already taken with a waiting list for the whole event. So glad I managed to attend the menu tasting event. However, the hopeful that I am still got my name enlisted for the waiting list.)
While Umai team was prepping, we happily settled in the bar next door. It's like Christmas time before you open gifts, the excitement and curiosity were palpable. When we can finally enter the restaurant, I gazed at everything like a little child. Everything was still pristine, no experiment occurred yet. The place embodies the Japanese theme but with a modern twist. Simple setting with all the kitchen tech available today.
Chef Dirk Haltenhof, Executive Chef at The Oberoi, Dubai said: ‘I first met Chef Ramsey in Tokyo in 2007 when he had just opened the Molecular Tapas Bar at the Mandarin Oriental. He calls himself a culinary engineer and I am also an engineer by trade and now a chef so it was true a meeting of minds. We have worked together on several special culinary events before, and I can promise our guests they are in for a once in a lifetime experience.’
First off was the Caramel Corn. A process that resembles a Breaking Bad episode. I was wide-eye the whole time. The mousse came out of the nozzle held by Chef Chie, straight onto a freezing cold spoon submerged into the nitro. Once the mousse was frozen, Chef Ramsey took it, passed it through silk-thin layer of caramel to coat it. It then dropped into a popcorn powder for the finishing touches. Voila! A one-bite light-as-a-feather popcorn covered puff that has no resounding crunch but a lasting flavour in your mouth.
Then the Meat and Potatoes. It was pita bread filled with potato mousse, topped with perfectly sliced wagyu beef. Once you bite on it, you really taste that forkful of steak and mashed potato with the addition of the crunch of pita.
On the same plate was a ceasar salad, find it if you please. The plate then means consists of the starter and the main. I'm thinking, lunacy! There's no way those small buttons will fool me into thinking it's a salad... but it did!
The one on top is a sort of crouton-ish texture, the one at the bottom is a frozen concoction, cold to the bite while the flakes surrounding it is parmegianno regiano. I closed my eyes and just got myself lost in the flavours and my oh my it is a definite ceasar salad! I opened my eyes and pooof! Reality set in, that craziness is really small... I wanted more but I won't dare ask since I knew there are so many to taste after it.
The look of, Errrm-those-were-slices-of-citrus-fruits-and-I-believe-there-is-only-one-way-of-eating-them-at-their-state look.
It was sweet! Citrusy sweet! Like a candy. It was so good that nobody cared if the liquid were dripping, we indulged like a kid. I finished my whole plate in a jeef. I saw some even taking other's fruits.
It was a crazy sight, a fun-tastic one.
Some started suspecting that they probably injected the fruit with some molecular thing, composed of sugary sweet substance and what-not. I was just so naive that I really didn't think about it that way.
Sour becomes sweet and other taste becomes something else. Our taste buds were practically screwed for two hours :P
Then we were asked to try our vinos and coffee ... eeeew! Safe to say, the booze stopped the minute we had dessert.
I came home telling my two boys about the whole lab-like kitchen I have just been and the miracle fruit and even demonstrated how the effect was, I munched on the nearest lemon I can find. They were so thrilled!
Come brushing of teeth and I wasn't thrilled anymore. My teeth was so sensitive from all the citrus that I had a long time trying to finish.
Albeit the pain, it was a wonderful night, happy crowd, it was FUN more than anything. An essential thing that we all need in our busy lives. Definitely memorable.