Dinner @ Le Mout (Taichung, Taiwan)

July 8, 2018 in French by thywhaleliciousfay

Yeah! I am finally posting the last of my Taiwan’s fine dining meals from my September 2017 and January 2018 trips. My post on Le Mout took longer (compared to my posts on RAW, MUME, RyuGin and Kitcho) because I couldn’t remember which pictures go where. Ie, I mixed up the photographs that I took of my mom’s dishes and mine. Oops.

So while I could easily find information of the fine dining scene in Taipei, I didn’t know much about Taichung’s. It was only after googling with keywords ‘fine dining’, ‘Taichung’ and ‘recommended’ that I got to learn about Le Mout. And it’s crazy of me to have forgotten Le Mout when they were on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants by S. Pellegrino from 2014 to 2017. I follow this list, you see.

But again, I couldn’t find much information of Le Mout on the internet. Especially of their menu. Thus, I dropped them an email. And in their response, I was told that they offer 3 menus:-
  - Menu creation, NT$3500
  - Menu Sensation, NT$4500
  - Menu Souvenirs, NT$6500 (For dinner and weekends only. Require 3 days advanced pre-order)

With the ‘right now’ mentality, I decided not to postpone my-dining-at-Le-Mout since I wasn’t sure when I would be back to Taiwan. Least to speak, Taichung. Thus, I replied to make dinner reservation for 2. A few more emails were exchanged as they asked for our dietary restriction, etc.

Except for the outskirts, my mom and I explored Taichung by bus. So yes, we arrived at the restaurant by bus and were welcomed to a sight of a fancy 4-storey building. We waited at the lounge before we were led to level 2.

Upon seated, the waiting staff presented us our menu (pages 1, 2, 3, 4). And because we pre-informed our dietary restriction, the waiting staff mentioned the beef main course was substituted with goose and pigeon for my Mom’s NT$4500 course and my NT$6500 course respectively.

And with that, we started our dinner with:-

  

1) Bread platter, Complimentary (above) – Taiwanese sausage bread (top, left) and macadamia-berries bread (top, right) made with honey and natural yeast. Paired with seaweed and salted butters.

2) Menu Sensation, NT$4500 comprised of:-

(A) Appetiser #1 (above) – Fermented cabbage ball and salmon.

(B) Appetiser #2 (above) – Le Mout’s take on Taiwan’s preserved turnip egg omelette (菜脯蛋). Made with with 12-years aged turnip sauce.

(C) Organic white asparagus (above) – With morels, borage.


(D) Green garden (above) – Summer vegetables, sun-dried fermented cabbage, chicken wing confit, “crema” goat cheese. Besides having the chicken stuffed with cheese, it was also served in different textures as paste and shredded meat. Really nice.

(E) Maine lobster (above) – With dill, taro and shallot.

(F) 7 day-aged goose (above) – With blazei mushroom, mustard green and rice sauce.

(G) Like “ispahan” (above) – With raspberry, rose, litchi, cacao consomme jelly.

(H) Tahiti (above) – Tropical fruits and vanilla. With an island theme, there was mango-jelly bikini, coconut-sorbet sand, handmade-choux-puff coconut tree, watermelon-flavoured-marshmallow starfish and vanilla ice cream. Too cute.

(I) Mignardise (above)

3) Menu souvenirs, NT$6500 comprised of:-

(A) Appetiser #1 (above) – A little different from my Mom’s where my fermented cabbage ball was served on dried scallop (干贝) julienness. This was interesting as it contained mousse inside too. And instead of salmon, I was served crisp roll with thick and creamy river clam puree within (top, left).


(B) Appetiser #2 (above) – Beneath the cheese foam was chopped melon, bitter gourd and scallop.

(C) “Blanc a manger” (above) – With hybrid sturgeon caviar, celery, white peppercorn, river clam. I was surprised to be tucking into a warm dish since it looked like a cold dish cause of the hybrid sturgeon caviar. Haha. With layers of river clam essence, celery purée with celery bits, meringue and white peppercorn (right at the bottom), I was impressed that the third layer of meringue maintained its foamy texture well despite the weight of the top 2 layers and after I dig my spoon into the dish. Keke.


(D) Organic white asparagus (above) – With kinmen beef, morels, borage. And the staff poured chicken broth through the hole of the bread. So to enjoy the soup, we would tear push the bread into the soup since that’s the way before we could access to taste the soup. Keke. But I was a little sad that while the original menu had beef for this, mine came meatless (since I don’t eat beef).

(E) Gourd (above) – Australian black truffle, rice noodle, salted duck egg yolk.

(F) Maine lobster (above) – With dill, taro and shallot.

  

(G) “Pigeon fermier de la drome” (above) – With sweet potato leaves, foie gras, almond, fig. Before my main was presented, the staff came up with a tray of 6 knives for me to choose from. And I went with Corsican’s Damascus U Cumpa knife with rhino horn handle. And it’s also after our dinner at Le Mout that I googled and realised the knife cost €500. Gasp.

(H) Nympheas (above) – Nympheas being a French word for water lily, this dessert was inspired by Japanese painter Claude Monet’s water lilies painting. A very refreshing dish with varying textures; Winter melon jelly, tofu pudding in jasmine tea soup. I really enjoyed this.

(I) Tahiti (above) – Tropical fruits and vanilla.

(J) Mignardise (above)

My Mom and I really enjoyed our meal at Le Mout. Now… The interior of Le Mout was very elegantly done up. So one may feel conscious of oneself especially if one do not fine-dine often. So when we entered, my mom felt a little out-of-place. My Mom is really down-to-earth and frugal. Although beside the ambience, my Mom was conscious because she didn’t want me to splurge too much. But all thanks to the really friendly and professional manager Chester, my mom eased up and that really allowed her to enjoy the meal to the fullest.

Will I recommend Le Mout? A definite yes.

However… It’s unfortunate that owner-chef Lanshu Chen would be closing down Le Mout by December 2018 after 10 years of operation. As taken from their Facebook page, head chef Lanshu is not comfortable with the changing landscape of fine dining where everyone is a mass critic with nicely edited photos on social media, chefs having to interact with public by going to stages and speak, and handling public relations. In her words, the fine dining scene has become very far from what she was inspired by in the old days of grand chef era.

It’s a great pity but it must not be easy for her to make such a decision. So while it’s a loss to the fine dining scene, I respect her decision. So if one really wants to try her cooking philosophy of ‘haute cuisine de terroir’ which marries classic French techniques with sustainable local (Taiwanese) ingredients, do dine by December 2018.

LE MOUT RESTAURANT 樂沐法式餐廳
59 Cunzhong Street, Taichung, Taiwan
+886 4 2375 3002, Website, FaceBook
Overall: 8.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Sat – Sun : 11:30 – 14:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 9
Wed – Sun : 18:00 – 22:00 (Dinner)
Value: 8
Service: 9
 
* Closed on Mon, Tues

Dinner @ Belon (Hong Kong)

July 5, 2018 in French by thywhaleliciousfay

My colleague and I happened to travel to Hong Kong during Mother’s Day weekend. So it’s no surprise that most restaurants offered special menu instead. However I, on the other hand, wanted a regular menu since I blog about my dining experiences. And just as I was struggling to find a place, I saw pictures of Belon’s signature dish pigeon pithivier on instagram.

An email was sent and they confirmed that Belon would still be offering their regular menu. With that, reservation was made for 2 for a Sunday evening. Was really glad they were opened on Sundays too.

Opened in March 2016, Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants by S. Pellegrino has already ranked the restaurant 40 on its 2018 list. As taken from Belon’s website… Belon, a neo-Parisian bistro reminiscing the food scene found in Paris’ 11th arrondissement, is led by head chef Daniel Calvert who has 10 years of experience in Michelin-starred kitchens.

And from the menu (pages 1, 2), my colleague and I ordered:-


1) Appetiser, Complimentary (above) – Cream-mustard filled gougère. This was really good. Just look at the melted cheese. My colleague and I contemplated if we should ask for seconds, but we decided not to. Don’t want to throw our faces by seeming like gluttons lah.

2) Handmade natural leavened bread, Complimentary (above)

3) Crispy asparagus with “sauce gribiche”, HKD78 (above) – My colleague and I casually mentioned we would be sharing the dishes when our orders were taken, and it was nice that the waiting staff took (serious) note of it. When our dish was served, the kitchen portioned the asparagus into 2 for our ease of eating.

4) Foie gras “au torchon” with preserved blackberries, HKD328 (above)

5) Shima aji “salade nicoise”, HKD228 (above)


6) Merguez sausage sandwich with salsa verde, HKD158 (above) – This was really good. I especially liked that the texture of the homemade sausage (made with chicken and lamb) reminded me much of luncheon meat. Compressed luncheon meet. Keke.


7) Pigeon pithivier with fig and amaretto, HKD678 (above) – What no one mentioned was that it’s a dish for 2. So it was sad because I arrived at Belon with a colleague wanting to try as many dishes as possible. But, but… We could only try just 1 main. Sob. But thankfully this didn’t disappoint. A little on the heavy side, but we were 2 happy patrons.

8) Tarte au chocolate “bernard pacaud”, HKD158 (above) – We actually expected the chocolate to be hard, but were surprised when our forks sliced through very easily. Not too bad.

I definitely recommend Belon. My colleague and I had a good time dining at the restaurant. It’s a pity there was only 2 of us because I wanted to try other dishes; Roasted chicken and millefeuille.

And it’s another pity Belon was only open for lunch service on Sundays. When we arrived at 8.30pm, I noticed the space was dimly lit. And I felt that did the interior decor little justice because I could imagine how gorgeous the space would be to dine in during the day with sun rays entering through the window and lighting up the place. But I guess with the dim lights, the restaurant transited from ‘elegant yet relaxed’ in the day to ‘romantic and seductive’ in the night.

BELON
41 Elgin Street, SoHo, Hong Kong
+852 2152 2872, Website, Facebook
Overall: 7.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Tue – Sat : 18:00 – 22:30
Ambience: 8
Sun : 12:00 – 22:30
Value: 7
Service: 7
* Closed on Mon

Dinner @ Lerouy

April 17, 2018 in French by thywhaleliciousfay

Due to my heavy traveling schedule in January and February, the earliest I could check out Lerouy with my IGGF (InstaGram GirlFriend) was March. And yes, call us kiasu because we made our reservation at least 1.5 months ahead via Chope. Keke. And to secure our online reservation, I was required to submit my credit card details.

And a little about head chef Christophe Lerouy… He was formerly the executive chef at Alma by Juan Amador. And I read that he was the chef responsible for bringing Alma its first Michelin star. But of course, he left and partnered with chef-owner Willin Low of Wild Rocket and chef-owner Gwen Lim of Patisserie G to open Lerouy in November 2017.

Remember how I mentioned (earlier in the post that) we made our reservation 1.5 months in advanced? An impromptu work trip had me needing to reschedule our dinner at the very last minute. Sob. So when my IGGF and I finally arrived at Lerouy, I couldn’t help but wonder if the unfavorable seats which we were assigned to was because of that.

The only table in the restaurant was a counter top. And because the unit which the restaurant occupied was long, the counter which was designed to stretch from one end of the room to the other meant parties seated at the two (far) ends won’t get to witness much kitchen action as that happened at the middle of the space. And yes, my IGGF and I were assigned counter-end seats. Sob.

The menu at Lerouy was simple; A piece of paper with the prices (5 courses at $98 and 7 courses at $128). And from the menu, my IGGF and I ordered:-

1) Grand, $128 comprised of:-


(A) Bread, Complimentary (above) – Sourdough with 3 types of butter. Charcoal, beetroot and natural butters. We really loved the bread.

(B) Canape #1 (above) – Pita bread with red pepper cream and shrimp (sakura ebi).

(C) Canape #2 (above) – Squid ink cracker with seafood foam, cured egg yolk, salmon roe and smoked fish hidden within the foam. I was busy taking pictures since the bread and 2 canapés were served at the same time when the staff came up to us and said we should eat this first (and fast) before the foam deflat. Oops.

(D1) Dish #1 (above) – Beef tartare topped with miso ice cream.

(D2) Dish #1 (above) – And because I don’t eat beef, I was served scallop carpaccio instead!

(E) Dish #2 (above) – Huge meaty oyster with a thin layer of lardo on top and foie gras cubes in hearty Jerusalem artichoke broth. Nice.


(F) Dish #3 (above) – Tiger prawn with yuzu gel, pistachio cream and cauliflower.

(G) Dish #4 (above) – Salt-baked cabbage, pork crackling and sauce made with garlic and pesto. And yes, with a thin layer of lardo too. Somehow, I couldn’t help but be reminded of MUME’s burnt cabbage dish. Somewhat similar (in ingredients used) but not (in taste).

(H) Dish #5 (above) – Tooth fish in vinegary squid-ink sauce and topped with vegetables and raspberry. I didn’t really like this though.

(I) Dish #6 (above) – Pigeon with chestnut crust and raspberry purée sauce. Definitely a first for my pigeon dish to be served in this manner. Wasn’t quite used to it cause the chestnut was a little too empowering.

(J) Dish #7 (above) – Passionfruit tart.

(K) Petit fours (above) – Chocolate truffle, chocolate chip, and (mini) yuzu madeleine.

Unfortunately, the meal failed to impress. And that was disappointing because I read so many raving (instagram) posts about the place prior to our dinner appointment.

First, it was our assigned seats. And by that, it’s not just about us being placed at the end. The restaurant was running at full house that night and it seemed like they may have accepted 1 too many reservation because it was way too cramped. At least at our end of the counter where my IGGF and I were literally joining the group of 5 (that’s beside us).

Food wise… It was good but not to the extent where we were blown away. I guess it didn’t help that we came to Lerouy with high expectations created from the hype. My IGGF and I also noted ingredients were repeated way too often to the extent we felt ingredients were… Recycled? An example would be the Yuzu gel. We remembered it because it was really sour. And the yuzu gel made its appearance at least twice thereafter.

But despite the above, I would not totally rule out Lerouy and say the restaurant is not worth checking out. Food was pretty affordable and service was good. My IGGF and I were surprised when head chef Lerouy popped his head out of the restaurant to say goodbye to us. Maybe give the restaurant abit more time?

LEROUY
3 Stanley Street, Singapore
6221 3639, Website, Facebook
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Fri : 12:00 – 14:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Mon – Sat : 18:30 – 21:30 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Service: 7
* Closed on Sun