Chef's Table Dinners @ Topshelf, TTDI

September 29, 2014

Topshelf has introduced beautifully composed omakase-style chef's table dinners, expected to take place once a month, on the final Sunday of every month, featuring multi-course menus exclusively crafted for one night only by chefs Chris & Gary. Make your reservations early; seating is likely to be limited to 12 persons per dinner.

These dinners are intimate affairs, ideal for folks seeking a different sort of restaurant experience. Guests are generally seated around a communal table set-up (though that's not compulsory; on request, they can obtain their own separate tables), where Chris & Gary explain each course & work shoulder-to-shoulder, performing the plating in full view of everyone.

September's introductory dinner kicked off with an amuse bouche of crispy-thin, delicate cones, deliciously stuffed with tuna sashimi marinated in soy sauce, cream & shallots, & 'planted' in aromatic coriander seeds. A texturally terrific showcase for how Chris & Gary are able to dive deeply into playful experimentation & satisfy their creative side with these special menus.

Here's a salad that comes very close to tasting like dessert, thanks to its garnishing - a thick, nectarous gel of lingonberry & an invisible spray of elderflower & extra virgin olive oil, furnishing a fruity flavour & floral fragrance to enliven the leaves & spears.

Surprises are the cornerstone of a menu of this nature; this turned out to be a magnificent wild mushroom consomme, blessed with wonderfully well-tuned nuances of herbaceous earthiness - a true treat for fans of fungi.

Topshelf's a la carte repertoire focuses on French & Italian, but the chef's table dinners stretches those boundaries. Here's a Spanish-influenced summer dish - mackerel cured with vinegar, salt & sugar; the fish is lusciously fresh, illustrating how good mackerel can actually get. This plate is piquant, not merely by way of the mackerel but through the pickled shimeji mushrooms & piquillo pepper puree too. Crowned with crunchy chorizo crumbs, with squid ink to beautifully blacken a visual feast.

Gary had a stint in Alabama awhile back, so here's some Southern-style cooking to drive away the blues: Breaded quail breast (the next best thing to fried chicken) with charred corn, accompanied by succulent-savoury confit quail thigh & mustard cream. 

Flavoursome Angus striploin on a cushion of mashed potatoes mixed with aged cheddar; maybe less memorably inventive than some of the other courses, but no less pleasurable.

Dessert's a delight; basil ice cream with berries, black sesame macaron & green tea cake. There's a lot going on with this plate (the sauces carry interesting dimensions), but the complexities work - as they do from start to finish throughout this dinner; every course is worth slowly savouring & talking about, taking us on a journey that's a testament to the skilfulness of the chefs.

The cost: RM120++ per person; add RM60++ for pairing with nicely chosen wines. Very fair bargain, all things considered. Note that the menu will probably evolve as the months go by, so what's served in September might well change in October.

The next chef's table dinner is expected to be on Sunday, October 26. Can't wait until then? Head over for Topshelf's refreshed, reinvigorated a la carte menu instead, available Monday-Saturday (the restaurant is usually closed Sundays), with possible highlights like pork belly confit, pork shoulder stew & baked halibut with celery & melon concasse.
Original introduction to Topshelf: April 12, 2012.

Topshelf @ Taman Tun Dr Ismail
61 Lorong Rahim Kajai 13, Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kuala Lumpur. Open daily, 4pm-12am. Tel: 03-7727-7277

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