DIN­ING

With the open­ing of URBANI TRUF­FLE BAR & RESTAU­RANT, Bangkok wel­comes the ar­rival of the city’s first truf­fle-fo­cused, fine din­ing es­tab­lish­ment. reena hall­berg dis­cov­ers what makes these fungi the di­a­monds of the kitchen Pho­tog­ra­phy : kaan suchanin

Prestige (Thailand) - - CONTENTS -

Earthly Trea­sures

what is it about truf­fles that makes them so cov­eted? Is it their deep musky aroma and earthy flavours that have the abil­ity to en­hance any dish they are added to? Or the fact that they are rare, and their scarce­ness leads to de­sire? These thoughts cross my mind as I ride the el­e­va­tor up to the 39th floor of the Sathorn Square build­ing to Urbani Truf­fle Bar & Restau­rant, the flag­ship es­tab­lish­ment of the world’s largest truf­fle pur­veyor, Urbani Tartufi.

Since its in­cep­tion in 1850, the Urbani brand has be­come a trusted name in the truf­fle busi­ness, for sourc­ing and pro­cess­ing one of the world’s most ex­pen­sive food prod­ucts. Now run by the six­th­gen­er­a­tion, the fam­ily-owned com­pany is ven­er­ated the world over for prized fungi, of­ten con­sid­ered the jewel of Ital­ian gas­tron­omy.

The stylish restau­rant is di­vided into sev­eral sec­tions, each with stun­ning vis­tas of the city. The bar area, lo­cated clos­est to the en­trance, is a chic mélange of onyx glossy mar­ble bar top, a cel­lar car­ry­ing over 250 cu­rated French and Ital­ian wines, pre­mium spir­its and Ital­ian beer, as well as a sec­tion with Urbani’s pre­mium truf­fle­based prod­ucts such as oil, chips and choco­lates – all made with or­gan­i­cally-farmed in­gre­di­ents. A se­lec­tion of oys­ters, caviar and truf­fle sushi is avail­able for din­ers to en­joy at the bar with a vin­tage of their choice.

Fur­ther in­side, the sprawl­ing din­ing area wraps it­self around an open kitchen counter, where we get a glimpse of ex­ec­u­tive chef Gon­zalo Ruis and his team work­ing on cre­at­ing haute cui­sine with sea­sonal truf­fles. The restau­rant also fea­tures a pri­vate din­ing area, suit­able for events and cel­e­bra­tions.

The restau­rant cur­rently presents two, five­course and seven-course set menus – each course with two op­tions – and an à la carte list of op­tions that changes in ac­cor­dance with the sea­son.

“Given the brand’s rich her­itage, it was nat­u­ral for them to open a restau­rant,” ex­plains Roberto Ugolini, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Urbani, as we par­take in a spoon­ful of a tomato jelly cap­rese salad, dot­ted with moz­zarella cheese; the amuse bouche for the evening.

Roberto in­forms that this project has been a dream for Olga Urbani, the truf­fle heiress who is in­tent on di­ver­si­fy­ing the brand’s port­fo­lio.

In 2016, Urbani for­ayed into the US with the open­ing of Truf­fle Lab NYC, a hotspot for culi­nary events and tast­ing room for truf­fle lovers and food en­thu­si­asts. In ad­di­tion

to launch­ing a fine din­ing out­let in Phuket later this year, plans to open restau­rants in se­lect cities around Asia and in St. Peters­burg, Rus­sia are in the pipe­line, as well as a mu­seum, where vis­i­tors can learn about the his­tory of the fam­ily, while sam­pling food and drinks from an on­site bar and restau­rant.

“Truf­fles have been quite pop­u­lar in the US and Europe, and its only trend­ing now in Asia. Peo­ple know a lit­tle bit and are cu­ri­ous about the taste,” Roberto says. Just then we get to try our first course and sam­ple Urbani’s famed black truf­fle in the form of homemade truf­fled foie gras ter­rine, which ar­rives en­sconced in a pis­ta­chio crum­ble

and served along­side pis­ta­chio ice cream. Even though the sum­mer truf­fle we try with this dish is sub­tle and less fra­grant com­pared to its win­ter coun­ter­part, it is still rich and woodsy in aroma with light hazel­nut un­der­tones, leav­ing a last­ing im­pact on our palates.

Next, we in­dulge in ag­nolotti of wagyu-truf­fled ragout with a rich truf­fle béar­naise sauce. The com­bi­na­tion and flavours of all the in­gre­di­ents re­sults in a dish so divine, that the only word es­cap­ing my din­ing com­pan­ion’s mouth is ‘wow’.

For our third course, we en­joy a de­lec­ta­ble serv­ing of pan-roasted Span­ish seabass fil­let with roasted pump­kin squash, chorizo and al­mond cro­quette and tomato con­casse with a hint of gin­ger. At first, the dish may seem com­plex with its mul­ti­ple flavour pro­files, but Chef Gon­zalo thought­fully pairs all of the in­gre­di­ents while al­low­ing the del­i­cate flavours of the fish to shine. This is haute cui­sine at its finest.

For our main course, we treat our senses to a stel­lar of­fer­ing of lamb ten­der­loin. The lamb – pre­pared sous-vide and in­fused with herbs – is served along­side mi­cro greens and truf­fle rel­ish. The sub­tle smokey flavours of the lamb pairs beau­ti­fully with the earthy pun­gency of the truf­fles.

For our fi­nal course, Chef Gon­zalo pulls out all the stops to present a deca­dent serv­ing of a dome-shaped tiramisu, per­me­ated with white truf­fle scent served on a bed of liq­uid ni­tro­gen­in­fused bis­cotti crum­bles – a de­light­ful fi­nale to a very mem­o­rable feast.

PAN-ROASTED SEABASS

TRUF­FLE FOIE GRAS TER­RINE

AG­NOLOTTI AL TARTUFO

WHITE TRUF­FLE TIRAMISU

CHEF GON­ZALO RUIS

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