Seasons also change at Kinu by Takagi, in more ways than one. The Japanese fine-dining venue at the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok welcomes its new resident chef, Norihisa Maeda, this autumn season. The two Michelin-starred chef faces the lockdown challenge head-on, coming up with not just a new seasonal menu to celebrate the season that doesn’t even exist in Thailand, but also ways to serve the celebrated multi-course “Kaiseki” away from its cosy home nestled inside Lord Jim, and onto the tables of the hotel suites.
The In-suite Dining Experience was not a new concept at the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok. Last year’s lockdown saw the hospitality establishment serving the French fine-dining courses from Le Normandie in its suites. With Le Normandie undergoing a renovation, Kinu takes turns to delight fans of Japanese cuisine with its exquisite culinary experience with a luxury privacy, strict health and sanitary procedure and a mesmerising view of Chao Phraya river.
Diners can choose between four-course lunch or eight-course dinner, both crafted from ingredients that highlight the spirit of the season, as designated by head chef Takagi, while keeping its signatures to delight die-hard fans, from steamed abalone served with abalone liver sauce as well as the unique, sumptuous miso ice-cream.
So, for this season, how does head chef Takagi and chef Norihisa Maeda bring a taste of the season of mist and mellow fruitfulness to the table? Quite literally, you could say — pumpkins and sweet potatoes sliced into the shape of an orange-coloured maple leaf, a bit of real leaves, and lots of seasonal mushrooms, that is. The menu isn’t full-blown autumn, but instead an attempt to capture a fleeting moment in late summer and early autumn — some warm, but light and gentle dishes that somewhat fit perfectly with a rainy evening in Bangkok.
The eight-course menu starts with an appetiser of tofu served with tomatoes, asparagus, cucumber, Hokkaido sea urchin and caviar, with the tofu being made with both soy and sesame, giving it both a unique, savoury scent and chewy texture. The richness of sea urchin is balanced by the lightness of texture, giving you not just a fantastic flavour, but a sensorial pleasure. The second, the Wanmori, features Conger eel and matsutake mushrooms as key ingredients. The eels are fried before being steamed, giving it a solid texture that those who usually dislike the mushy softness of steamed fish would find enjoyable. The dish is served with dried mullet roe in Kinu’s signature exclusive dashi soup, with the yuzu peels and onions giving the soup an extra layer of taste.
The Tsukuri, or sashimi of daily catch, needs no explanation except for the fact that it leaves you craving for more. The Hassun, or a selection of small dishes, features a slow-cooked scallop and broccoli served with tosazu vinegar jelly, O-toro sushi, sweet potato cake, grilled seasonal fish, grilled tottori wagyu beef with egg yolk sauce and crispy sweet potato chips and ginkgo nuts. Among these, the scallop and the wagyu are delectable, with the zesty flavour of the tosazu vinegar jelly being a good palate cleanser and a refreshing pleasure.
The course continues with the signature abalone for the steamed dish or Aizakana. Kinu’s mainstay is given a seasonal touch with mushrooms and pumpkin for an even more gooey texture while the sophisticated flavour of the abalone liver remains there to be loved. The exclusive dashi soup of Kinu always shines the brightest in the tempura dish, the Takaiwase, where the crispy lotus root with shrimp paste and eggplant served with chrysanthemum and dashi sauce truly evoke the cool autumn breeze. The final dish, Shokuji, featuring autumn salmon and salmon roe to be enjoyed with Nagoya red miso soup, is an unexpected finish. But considering how the sequence of the menu plays with a balance between dishes that feel warm and cool, ending the course with fatty meat and miso isn’t a bad choice after all. You feel full, satisfactory, and being left wanting only dessert to bring you to a calming end of the course. And mind you, the dessert at Kinu never disappoints! The unique, one-of-a-kind miso ice-cream is here, with sake panna cotta and sake jelly bringing you an authentic taste of Japanese cuisine you couldn’t find anywhere else but at Kinu by Takagi.
The four-course lunch menu u is priced at THB 3,200++ per person, and THB 6,800++ per person for the eight-course dinner. For reservations and more information, please call Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok at 660 2659 9000 or email [email protected] www.mandarinoriental.com/bangkok