Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Strand Restaurant elevates Yangon culinary art

High culinary art has reached dizzy heights at the elegant Strand Restaurant, where dishes billowing plumes of liquid nitrogen just real right amid the marble floors and dazzling chandeliers.

But the new ‘Farm to Table’ menus are more than flashy gimmicks. They have substance—local substance—with Executive Chef Christian Martena scouring the countryside for the best farms and fisheries.

The result is four-course or six-course highly creative tasting menus using Myanmar’s best seafood, meat and organic fruit and vegetables, infused with the chef’s signature Mediterranean style.

Crab Tartar smoked in Hickory Wood. (Supplied)

The inaugural dish comes in the form of tapioca crackers, an amuse bouche that teases the first proper: crab tartar smoked in hickory wood presented in a glass bowl and shrouded in clouds of molecular magic (the liquid nitrogen part). Cold-diced cucumber tasting not unlike skinned grapes bathed in gazpacho and lemon zest accompanies the tartar. Like all the courses, it’s paired with a selected glass of red or white.

Italian Martena was trained in European Michelin-starred kitchens and established an acclaimed restaurant in Bangkok. An experienced practitioner of molecular gastronomy, he cooks the egg in its shell in a water bath at 63 degrees Celsius for an hour and positions it as the star of the second course, with lurid asparagus mousse and crispy bacon in supporting roles.

The short wait between the courses can be spent dipping into the breadbasket and appreciating the fruit of a well-received renovation. Yangon’s most iconic hotel is laden with classy touches for those willing to look; black and gold lacquer panels from Bagan, a high vaulted ceiling, an overall polished, stylish look.

Former guests such as Orson Welles would doubtlessly enjoy the aesthetics. In fact, you could put money on the director enjoying the next course too; Martena’s tortellini stuffed with shellfish fumet and served with king prawns and droplets of basil emulsion.

Then came braised octopus and tender squid served with “ink” and baby carrot, baby zucchini, and wasabi flower. Local institution Sharkey’s has expanded its provisions to the Strand from just vegetables and flowers to chicken and eggs.

Mango and Coconut Explosion. (Supplied)

Sharkey’s chicken with green peas, lentil, and chicken jus comprised the next course, and the tasting menu finished with a “mango and coconut explosion” presented in a sugary eggshell that the diner cracks.

The four-course ‘Farm to Table’ tasting menu is priced at US$38 per person, plus tax and service, and the six-course ‘Farm to Table’ tasting menu is priced at US$58 per person, plus tax and service. They are available each Friday evening.

For bookings, please email [email protected] or call (95) 9770091104.

On Saturday, January 27, chef Christian Martena will be joined by Michelin-starred guest chef Sylvain Royer for a special ‘Four Hands’ gastronomic dinner. A six-courses tasting menu will be available featuring a fusion of Italian and French flavors with a modern twist. US$88 per person | Limited seats available.

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