Friday, November 2, 2012

Michel Portos' Culinary Tour de Force (Or How I Feast on Michelin Star Goodness)

Who would've thought that I would get the chance to encounter a two-michelin star gastronomic experience here in the heart of Jakarta? It was only a month ago when I tweeted michelin star one-o-one, and voila, here I am. I guess the stars are aligned right this time between me, Mandarin Oriental, and Michel Portos.

Being crowned recently as Gault & Millau chef of the year, Chef Michel has been renowned for his bold, creative and irresistible dishes. And that is exactly what he delivers through all 6-courses in the degustation dinner. 

Starting with Seared Foie Gras in Moroccan Flavor, for me it was a palate teaser that comes with diverse purposes. One is to trigger all five sensory of sweet, sour, salty, spicy, and umami. Two is to make a statement that celebrates Chef Michel's take on cooking philosophy. A theme that I'll eventually find in most of his dishes. 

"For food to be delicious, beautiful and balanced. It's the balance of flavor and texture; not to mix all the ingredients together to have one single blended taste. It's very important to be able to taste every single ingredient you have on the plate." (Michel Portos in SCMP, 2011)

The savory foie gras, blended with the unexpected slices of dates, argon oil, coriander and balsamic vinegar make one complete dish. Not stopping at that, Chef Michel continued to pace along with the main courses. 

Seared Foie Gras in Moroccan Flavor

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Black Truffel that tremendously pleasing to the taste buds, especially the sweet toothed. Al dente even with such a light skin, and did I mention the truffle? Splendid! 

Warm Salad of Squid with Tomato Confites, Serrano Ham & Balsamico Vinaigrette. Expect a major opposing taste from the ravioli. I found the ham was very close to my liking, while not with the squid and balsamico. Those with sour tendency would enjoy this more I suppose. 

Seabass Inspiration of My Way Back from Hongkong was a step down of pace. Very smooth well cooked fish. Not too dry. And surprisingly a beautiful take on Asian especially coming from a french chef. Some Asian tongues might opt for a little more boldness though. 

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Black Truffle

Warm Salad of Squid with Tomato, Ham, & Balsamic Vinaigrette
Seabass Inspiration of My Way Back from Hongkong

The highlight of the night was probably the Lamb Cutlets with Minute of Curried Jus & Coconut Reduction. Back on the pace and my personal favorite. It has everything I look for in a dish. Well seasoned medium meat, and the fact that it was a jus instead of sauce made all the difference. Chef Michel take a detailed proportion on flavor with the addition of coconut & ginton herbs. It awakens my memory of Will Meyrick's Indian cuisine that I had last week. I'm all smileful with this plate. 

Lamb Cutlet with Curried Jus & Coconut Reduction

Coming down to the finale, I knew its gonna be interesting. Why? Because we have two desserts to savor. Made with the courtesy of pastry chef Sebastien Bertin, we had Chocolate and Raspberry with Scrum of Fresh Thyme and Apple Celery with Speculos Biscuit. The first one was very pleasing to the eye. It took a different view on chocolate as they infused it sour. I enjoyed the berry sorbet as a standalone dish, but found it a little too bold when eaten together with the layer of chocolate. The second one was rather playful and experimental. I jump to it right away from the very thought of having apple and celery on the same plate. It turned out as my favorite of the two. Have the ball of apple, dip it in the celery juice, and munch it all together with the biscuit. Intense mix of flavor & texture. 

Chocolate & Raspberry with Scrum of Fresh Thyme

Apple Celery with Speculos Biscuit

At this point, I regret for not taking my bottle of Margaret River and Late Picked Traminer. It would make a good pair to the seabass and the desserts. No worries though, as a great companion made the evening twice as delightful. Conversations goes wild from the real french kiss to the love of potatoes. It dawned on me once again what Raj Abat said that a meal is not just on the tongue, but a whole sum of the experience. 

I thank Mia, Malinda, Jen, Jenifer, & Ellyna for the great company. Four hours of dinner wouldn't be as delightful without you. Plus, it was great being the only male on the table (I just realized that after writing the previous sentence). 

Until our next michelin (or potato tasting), 

Fellexandro Ruby
Food Storyteller & Photographer

Snack on my tweets & instagram @Wanderbites

Degustation lunch & dinner is still available until 3rd of November. For more details and reservation: 

Mandarin Hotel Jakarta
Jl. MH. Thamrin No. 1
Ph: 021-2993-8888
Twitter: @mo_jakarta


  1. The pic of "Chocolate and Raspberry with Scrum of Fresh Thyme", I feel like I can literally touch and feel the texture of the dessert; it pops out just before my eyes from my screen. how did u do sorcery like this? :)

  2. definitely something u didn't wanna miss! *drooling*

  3. Gila Rubs, did we eat the same things? Your photos all turn out divine with capital D! OMG...hehe. Emang ga salah, an expert can always capture the best out of any settings! ;)

    1. HAHAHA. lebaaaay. We had the same thing of course. Its just the use of flash. Nothing special. Hehe.


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