An amaz­ing jour­ney of taste

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Taste - By SUZANNE LAZAROO star2@thes­tar.com.my The 2017 Hen­nessy XO Odyssey runs from Tues­day to Aug 15, and is RM888 per guest. For reser­va­tions, call 03-7731 0502 or 012-223 2991.

THIS is an Odyssey for the ages, in­deed.

It’s that time again, when Co­gnac-lov­ing bon vi­vants em­bark on a jour­ney of taste, stop­ping in at var­i­ous ports of call – the far­away seas off Ja­pan, home to melt­ingly sweet botan ebi and del­i­cate snow crab ... or per­haps a fan­tas­tic farm on our own home shores, rais­ing or­ganic fowls of leg­end.

In other words – it’s time for the Hen­nessy XO Odyssey. A seven-course gas­tro­nomic jour­ney, with the Co­gnac served in var­i­ous in­car­na­tions at ev­ery step, to show­case its many facets – neat, over ice, with a splash of wa­ter, cool or warm. And then paired with fine cui­sine to el­e­vate the en­tire ex­pe­ri­ence.

With the Odyssey now in its sec­ond year, the chef helm­ing the epi­curean ship for 2017 is Dar­ren Chin, the chef-owner of DC Restau­rant, in Ta­man Tun Dr Is­mail, Kuala Lumpur.

If you don’t al­ready think that Chin is one of the best and most cere­bral chefs in the coun­try, the Odyssey should con­vince; ev­ery el­e­ment on his plate is a tightly-plot­ted chess move, a build­ing block in a dish greater than the sum of its parts.

He’s an ex­pe­ri­enced pro­po­nent of ap­ply­ing clas­sic French tech­nique to a daz­zling, ex­cit­ing ar­ray of in­gre­di­ents and sen­si­bil­i­ties, and is strin­gent when it comes to sourc­ing the best pro­duce.

Each course in the meal is ti­tled with the nu­ance the dish will help to elicit from the Co­gnac. The ex­pe­ri­ence be­gins with a play on Sweet Notes, with creamy botan ebi ac­com­pa­nied by the umamirich heir­loom tomato gran­ite and flecked with touches of konbu, chilli and cit­rus fresh­ness from a touch of grape­fruit foam.

For this course, the Hen­nessy XO is served on the rocks, notes of honey and can­died cit­rus creep­ing to the fore. “The botan ebi draws out the sweet­ness of the Co­gnac,” said Chin, at a spe­cial me­dia pre­view. “But ev­ery course is de­signed to show­case its ver­sa­til­ity.”

The Spicy Edge is prob­a­bly my favourite – snow crab pre­sented in two acts. The del­i­cacy of the crus­tacean ne­ces­si­tates both care­ful thought and gen­tle han­dling, and both are ap­par­ent in the pre­sen­ta­tion.

Part one is a broth of snow crab and prawn, with hints of herbs from DC Restau­rant’s own gar­den. Briny and fresh, a meld of land and sea. And then part two ar­rives, a gen­er­ous mound of silky snow crab strands with white as­para­gus and com­plex cu­lantro nam jim (a com­plex Thai dip­ping sauce), cra­dled in whis­per-thin slices of freshly-shaved sum­mer truf­fles.

The Co­gnac is served with a splash of wa­ter this time, and re­veals fra­grant, spiky pep­per notes, play­ing against its sig­na­ture rich round­ness.

End­ing with a Choco­late Lull, Chin serves an ice cream made with Ara­bica cof­fee, spiced hairy bananas with the ser­pen­tine pas­try coils of Moroc­can m’hen­cha, con­ceal­ing spice, nuts and cit­rus, and a lemon chan­tilly. The night ends with a glass of Hen­nessy XO neat, its weight com­fort­ingly silky on the tongue, with dark choco­late notes mak­ing their pres­ence felt.

These are just a few of the won­ders of the gas­tro­nomic world that await. Mathieu Du­chemin, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Moet Hen­nessy Di­a­geo has the fi­nal word: “Each drop of Hen­nesy XO is an odyssey in it­self,” he said.

Worlds within worlds, and quite the last word on gas­tro­nomic in­ter­tex­tu­al­ity.

Botan ebi with heir­loom tomato gran­ite, konbu, lemon basil and chilli oil, paired with Hen­nessy XO on the rocks.

Chin, in the el­e­gant con­fines of DC Restau­rant. — Pho­tos: Moet Hen­nessy Di­a­geo

Sum­mer truf­fle slices hide a pre­cious se­cret – silky strands of snow crab, white as­para­gus and cu­lantro nam jim.

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