Din­ner with a view

At Babe, you get an un­in­ter­rupted panorama of the city sky­line and a Miche­lin-starred chef in the kitchen, writes Tan Bee Hong

New Straits Times - - Flair -

Shi­maaji Sashimi and White Konbu

GET­TING to Babe on the 11th floor of Clear­wa­ter can be a bit of mys­tery in it­self. Un­able to lo­cate the UP but­ton at the lift area, I had to ask the help­ful se­cu­rity guard for as­sis­tance. Yes, that’s how safe you will be. It’s dusk and our lit­tle group is spell­bound by the un­in­ter­rupted view of the city sky­line. When mak­ing reser­va­tions, do in­di­cate whether you pre­fer to sit in­doors or, for a re­ally fab­u­lous night view, on the pool deck which is also air-con­di­tioned.

Chicken skin crisp with liver par­fait, red wine caramelised onions and pick­led mus­tard. GET STARTED

Head­ing the kitchen at Babe is Ja­pan­born Chef Jeff Ram­sey who, at 32, earned a Miche­lin star for his mod­ernistic cook­ing style.

By his own ad­mis­sion, his forte lies in seafood but he is not fazed by meat ei­ther as he re­cently cre­ated an edgy Aus­tralian A5 wagyu menu. All the beef served at Babe come with a cer­tifi­cate of au­then­tic­ity.

While wait­ing for the food to come, I sip on a glass of Torch Gingerale (RM25). What perks up this drink is the aroma of bunga kan­tan which com­bines very well with the gin­ger and lemon.

For a more fruity flavour, there’s El­der­berry Smash, a blend of fruit with el­der­flower.

Then we nib­ble on chicken skin crisps. The crisp is the per­fect foil for bring­ing to­gether the top­pings of liver par­fait, red wine caramelised onions and pick­led mus­tard as you get to taste all the dif­fer­ent flavours and tex­tures at one go.

This is fol­lowed by Moz­zarella Ex­plo­sion with Amela To­mato (RM40) which comes with stern in­struc­tions to pop the whole white bal­loon of moz­zarella into the mouth without try­ing to cut it up.

Obe­di­ently, we do as told and are re­warded by a “pop” in the mouth that re­leases a stun­ning essence of moz­zarella tinged with basil.

Sit­ting dain­tily to one side is a quar­ter wedge of Amela To­mato, said to be the sweet­est to­mato on earth.

BabenDazs (RM35), served in lit­tle sealed boxes, is foie gras and VSOP Ice Cream, sand­wiched be­tween two wafers. It’s just the bomb. There is some­thing quite deca­dent about eat­ing foie gras frozen into ice cream — both chill­ing and thrilling ex­pe­ri­ence.

SEA DIVE

I am still smack­ing my lips when the waiter places be­fore me a cov­ered bam­boo bas­ket. He opens the cover and I get a whiff of fra­grant smoke.

In­side is the 1,000-year-old Cedar smoked Yel­low­tail Ni­giri (RM42/2pcs). The cedar dust is placed in a clam shell and

Hokkaido Don, Ja­panese rice topped with salmon roe, king crab, fresh uni

and dashi jelly

Moz­zarella Ex­plo­sion with Amela To­mato

lighted be­fore the bas­ket is brought to the ta­ble.

The smoke is just a mild whiff to en­gage your palate for the umami flavour of the Ha­machi tinged with a bit of yuzu.

I can­not de­cide if I pre­fer this or Shi­maaji and White Konbu (RM55). The fresh slices of striped horse mack­erel sashimi, shaped into a bloom­ing flower, are laced with sesame oil and then sea­weed, scal­lion and flakes of snow-like konbu, are sprin­kled over.

Or per­haps the Grilled French Royal Oys­ter (RM50/pc) is the clear win­ner. My eyes grow big at the sight of the huge mol­lusk blan­keted un­der a creamy yel­low tama miso (egg miso) sauce and a sprin­kle of chopped scal­lions. There is a faint hint of heat and citrus that spices up the raw oys­ter.

To my sur­prise, the oys­ter has been cleanly sliced across in two, mak­ing it eas­ier to eat.

Hokkaido Don (RM85) is a sat­is­fy­ing por­tion of Ja­panese rice topped with konbu pow­der, cured salmon roe, king crab and uni (sea urchin) so fresh you can prac­ti­cally smell the sea­wa­ter.

Dashi jelly on the side binds all the flavours to­gether. But if you pre­fer not to mix the in­gre­di­ents, you will still en­joy the lev­els of flavours and tex­ture sep­a­rately.

I keep the best for the last. Ram­sey’s Black Truf­fle and King Crab Chawa­mushi has rock­eted this steamed egg to gourmet lev­els.

He has poured a thick­ened sauce scented with black truf­fle over the steamed egg. To eat, scoop the egg and sauce with the chunks of crab meat; it’s so good you’ll be scrap­ing the sides of the cup and lick­ing the spoon clean.

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