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One of the greatest travesties of globalisation is the continental grouping of cuisines but in recent years, with the emphasis on ‘authentic fusions,’ five-star kitchens are seeking to bring together authenticity from different parts of the continent, especially Asia.
The perfect example of this was on show last Saturday at the Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay’s re/Asian Cuisine by Wolfgang Puck restaurant, where we stopped by to enjoy their famous Dim Sum Asian brunch.
Executive sous chef Luke Omarzu has created a 25-item shareable menu, which changes every week, with dishes from every corner of the East and South-east Asian continent. Each diner gets a choice of five dishes from the menu with extras thrown in for our palette perusal courtesy of Chef Luke and assistant restaurant director Rumena Martin.
We started with four ‘dumpling-esque’ items - potstickers with Wagyu beef, black vinegar and chili oil, Szechuan lamb dumplings with Szechuan pepper and crispy shallots, vegetable spring rolls with sweet Thai chili sauce and shitake mushroom and Szechuan ‘Dan Dan’ dumplings with organic chicken and peanut sauce.
While our vegetarian photographer enjoyed the unparalleled crispiness of the spring rolls, my carnivorous colleague and I dug into the rest. The ‘Dan Dan dumplings’ are the most popular item on the dumpling menu, and with a buttery flavour and texture, combined with a very distinct peanut taste, it was easy to see why.
The next course featured items from the ‘Land’, ‘Sea’, ‘Air’ and ‘From The Wok’ sub-menus. The crispy turnip cakes with black bean and garlic chili glaze and the ‘General Tso’ cauliflower with roasted peanuts and blackened chili gave us our dose of earthy flavours. While I am not traditionally a fan of turnips, the glaze as well as the crispy exterior giving way to a succulent core made a believer out of me.
The crispy ‘salt and pepper’ squid with red Thai curry dipping sauce and the line-caught black bass skewer with Thai chilies and sour dipping sauce took us out to sea but did not leave us adrift.
And just as food coma reared its lethargic head, the Korean fried chicken bao buns with radish kimchi and gochujang aioli, stir-fried chicken lettuce cups with bean sprouts and the chicken Yakatori with sweet soy, cilantro and citrus zest got us soaring amongst the clouds.
For our vegetarian readers, re/Asian is happy to accommodate, and we were served vegetarian lettuce cups, with eggplant instead of chicken.
When we came in, Rumena emphasised the shareable nature of each dish and while we were sceptical at first, this intentional preparation was evident in the servings.
For our main course, I went for a medium-rare Szechuan style striploin with Wok-fried greens and garlic pepper sauce (which is a larger sized portion for an additional BD7) while my colleague tried the pan seared sea bass with sweet soy, jasmine rice and Thai basil (for an additional BD5).
And straight from the wok, we were also served Hong Kong-style noodles with shitake, bean sprouts and bok choy; Shanghai-style noodles with braised beef, Hon Shimeji mushroom and Thai basil; vegetable fried rice with sweet onion and toasted sesame oil; and hand-cut Chow Fun “Crazy Noodles” with Hon Shimeji, Thai chilis and black pepper.
The steak was delectable, with a perfect pepper sear and a garlic-pepper sauce glaze on the outskirts. As Chef Luke informed us, it was a culmination of French and Chinese culinary tradition.
Of course, as we prepped the additional guest room in our bellies for dessert, a chocolate and yuzu cake with ganache montee and chocolate sorbet; a pear caramel chocolate bar with chocolate mousse, peanut cream and yuzu ice cream; a black sesame bar with sesame cake, pistachio cream and Dulcey ice cream and the chef’s special homemade sorbet and ice-cream with seasonal fresh fruit magically appeared.
I had never heard of Yuzu before but it’s one of the most wonderful pairings with chocolate. The flavour is impossible to summarise. Some say the flavour is a tangy mix of lemon, mandarin and grapefruit. Some say it’s more like peach, lemon and lime.
Basically, it’s a citrus that tastes better than all the others put together. Yuzu is popular in Japan, used in savoury dishes and desserts. Originally, Yuzu comes from China and rolled into Japan during the Tang Dynasty 1,000 years ago, where it was used for medicinal and cooking purposes. Paired with chocolate, every bite is a celestial coupling of culinary perfection.
And saved from my impeding food coma by a double espresso as well as the breath-taking view, we retired for the afternoon, with a special reserved place in our hearts and bellies for Four Seasons’ re/Asian culinary experience.
Soak in the immersive views from the 50th floor and feast on mouth-watering selections during this hugely popular brunch from 12:30pm to 3:30pm every Saturday. Priced at BD28net for food only, BD32net including soft beverages and BD36net including premium beverages. For more details, contact 17115046.
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