Even within a very good chef’s or restaurant’s repertoire there are standouts. Similarly, not all vintages for wines are created equal. Here are our picks of some of the best things that we’ve eaten or drunk in recent times.
A dessert at Appetite’s chef’s table
If you haven’t already heard – one of the most engaging chef’s tables in recent times is at Appetite, the multi-concept space run by the same guys behind Nouri. Dishes are born of intensive research, anthro-cultural commonalities, or sometimes just a pure focus on flavour. This Kandinsky-esque dessert, matter-of-factly called Things That Go Well Together, collects a laundry list of components that all work in any permutation and combination. It’s like Michel Bras’ gargouillou, rendered in dessert form – a central rocher of blood orange ice cream sitting in vanilla cream space, orbited by herb oils, pate de fruit, puffed grains, diced fruit, and nuts. Each spoonful is a different experience, and immediate proof that it did, well, all go well together.
Curry Debal at Kin
Traditionally made with leftover meats from Christmas by Eurasian families, chef Damian d’Silva’s curry debal at restaurant Kin ups the ante with a whole smoked pork knuckle. This does two things: giving the gravy a pleasant smokiness (the more homely iteration being a liquid-smoke flavour from cocktail sausages or supermarket ham) ; and lending the dish a lip-sticking richness thanks to the ample fat and gelatin from the knuckle. Throw in the combination of well-balanced spices and a vinergary lilt and you’ve got a curry that will inspire the consumption of much rice.
Dashi and soup from Kappo Shunsui
As the primary building block of all Japanese cuisine, dashi is paramount – and is thus given particular attention at Kappo Shunsui. Distilled water is further treated with binchotan, while Hokkaido kombu is cold-infused in the water overnight. Finally, katsuobushi from Kagoshima is syphon-brewed a la minute, resulting in a clean but intense broth. Said dashi goes into one of the best soups we’ve had all year, with umami-packed abalone, fresh wakame, and earthy, succulent bamboo shoots.
(Related: Wines from Thailand? Yes please)
Pan-seared amadai (red tilefish) at Waku Ghin
A good example of working parts that come together perfectly: amadai with shatteringly-crisp scales and meltingly-tender flesh sits in a dashi that’s lightly perfumed by the smokiness of grilled Japanese eggplant. Maitake mushrooms and mizuna both respectively provide a meatiness and a crisp freshness.
Vin de Constance 2017
One of the most prized sweet wines of the world meets a great vintage. Made from late-harvested Muscat de Frontignan, South African estate Klein Constantia’s 2017 Vin de Constance is a triumph of purity – but also plenty of phenolic complexity and a staggeringly long finish. Most importantly, there’s balance – a good acidity to temper an alluring sweetness. One for the cellars, but also a joy to drink young thanks to incredible freshness. Tasted against the 2011, 2014, 2015, and 2016 vintages – the 2015 stands out with an oily, exceptionally rich character.
Red bean soup with 50-year-old dried mandarin peel from Shang Palace
Chances are, you’ve never had red bean soup like this before. To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Shang Palace is offering red bean soup with an ingredient worth its weight (and possibly even more) in gold: decades-aged tangerine peel. Like a fine wine, years of being stored away rounds out any sharpness in the dried peel. Meanwhile, its citrus aromas are intensified, while an almost incense-like complexity develops – both of which are evident in the red bean soup. As a thank-you to guests for the years of patronage, Shang Palace is selling a bowl for just $5.