Chef Takashi Kimura cleverly injects a touch of Japanese into French winter cuisine, writes Tan Bee Hong
A COLD chill continues to blanket France in late January and early February, with temperatures hovering around 5 °Celsius. No wonder Cilantro’s executive chef, Takashi Kimura, decided to hold a special French Winter Ingredients Celebration recently.
This is the first of six specially curated culinary evenings as part of the restaurant’s 20th anniversary. The year-long special menus will be held every two months, and next on the list will be the Japanese Ingredients Celebration on March 30 with dishes including Takemoko & Scallop Carpaccio, Beignet of Abalone, Grilled Sakuramasu, Warm Hitachi Beef and Ezo Venison.
Takashi’s signature French fare tinged with Japanese influence has kept regular customers coming back over the last 17 years that he has helmed the kitchen.
Recently refurbished, Cilantro now includes Yuu@Cilantro, a pop-up kitchen set in a private dining space on the lower ground level where the bar is located. Here, one can host private, intimate meals without mingling with the other customers.
After we were seated, we were offered a bread basket with two types of crusty breads and half a soft, buttery brioche. We also got a piece of liver pate and a saucer of creamy soft butter bursting with the earthy aroma of truffles. It was so easy to keep reaching out for more bread and I had to keep reminding myself of the six-course menu to come.
But before that, we were served a freshly shucked oyster, with all its briny flavours.
The first course was Brittany Scallop, served with caviar and cream in a scallop shell the size of a teacup saucer. The huge scallop had been cut up for easy eating. Just scooped a bit and add some caviar and cream for a lip-smacking treat.
We moved on to Buckwheat Taglionlini. The pasta was topped with a generous portion of freshly shaved black truffles and a raw egg yolk which added a silky, creamy texture.
The Meuniere of Cauliflower also came with freshly shaved truffles. The cauliflower was done three ways: Roasted, steamed and sliced into raw slivers. This way, we could taste the subtle differences between the three. I liked the roasted best.
The fourth course was Brittany Blue Lobster & Turbot with tempura sweet potato. The lobster is from the northwesternmost region of Brittany in France. I thought I’d prefer the crustacean to the fish but surprisingly, the white fish fillet was equally delicious, in a more subtle way, and did a merry dance with the lobster reduction sauce.
TAKE A PAUSE
Takashi then offered Strawberry Granite, with its sharp, tangy taste to cleanse our palates in readiness for the main course, a leg of Pyrenees Milk-Fed Lamb. These lambs only suckle on ewe’s milk for up to 42 days, so you can detect that delicate milky flavour in the meat.
A waiter showed us the roasted whole leg, which was just about the length of an adult forearm. It was then brought back to the kitchen for carving and plating. Cut into big nuggets, the lamb was served with soft, creamy mashed potato and a dollop of hot mustard which lent a sharp, pungent flavour. The meat was amazingly tender and sensuously succulent.
Dessert was Honey Ice Cream with chopped walnuts and crusty toast. Scattered over this were shredded Perigord truffles and bits of broken Roquefort cheese. The ripe blue cheese lent a sharp, salty tang that boosted the sweetness of the ice cream. This ended the meal on such an exquisite note that I declined the offer of coffee or tea, preferring instead to let the blue cheese and truffles continue their dance on my palate all the way home.
(no pork served)
Address Micasa All-Suite Hotel, 368-B Jalan Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur
Tel 03-2179 8082
HOURS Lunch: Friday only (Noon to 2pm). Dinner: Monday to Saturday (6pm to 10.30pm). Closed Sunday.
FOOD French with a touch of Japanese
PROMOTION The Special Curated Evening is held on a Friday every two months. On these days, there’s an All-Day Dining Promotion including Executive Friday Lunch and the Special Curated Evening at RM850 nett.
PAY RM650 nett. No corkage for wines from country on promotion.
MOOD Elegant chic
I SAY ...Must try