WYNN-ING STREAK

In­te­grated re­sorts like Wynn Ma­cau and Wynn Palace of­fer a high level of gas­tron­omy, thanks to stel­lar chefs who are mak­ing a splash in the re­gional food scene. By Jes­sica Chan

Epicure - - CONTENTS -

The new foodie des­ti­na­tion: Wynn Ma­cau and Wynn Palace

When it comes to nam­ing Asian cities with the buzzi­est gas­tron­omy scene, Tokyo, Sin­ga­pore and Hong Kong come to mind but not Ma­cau. My culi­nary knowl­edge of the coun­try – Por­tuguese egg tarts, pork chop buns and

minchee – was pal­try.

The former Por­tuguese colony is not only home to a 400-year-old Chi­nese-por­tuguese cui­sine but also a com­mu­nity of plugged-in chefs who are con­stantly chal­leng­ing the bound­aries of the kitchen. It’s shap­ing up to be the quin­tes­sen­tial ad­dress for gourmets, be it ca­sual eater­ies or fine din­ing restau­rants. The lat­ter is a fix­ture of Ma­cau’s culi­nary scene, thanks to a suc­ces­sion of mega-re­sorts open­ing one af­ter an­other. Just this year, MGM Co­tai launched with Mauro Co­la­greco as well as Mor­pheus with Alain Du­casse and Pierre Hermé. It’s timely for bon vi­vants to make the pil­grim­age to find out what the buzz is all about. That, of course, is re­fer­ring to the lo­ca­tion of 2018 and 2019’s Asia’s 50 Best Restau­rants cer­e­mony, Wynn Ma­cau and Wynn Palace.

Sto­ried feasts

Walk­ing into Golden Flower, Wynn Ma­cau’s two Miche­lin-starred Chi­nese restau­rant, begged the ques­tion: had I trav­elled back to the Qing Dy­nasty? Al­lur­ing flo­ral cen­tre­pieces per­fume the hall­way while ex­quis­ite porce­lain line the shelves. A tea som­me­lier dain­tily pours out yinzhen bai­hao (sil­ver nee­dle white tea) from Fu­jian be­fore sur­mis­ing in Can­tonese that I nose its honey-like aroma, as ex­ec­u­tive chef Liu Guo Zhu lays down a bit­ter melon that’s been fash­ioned into a pe­ony (al­beit a green one). The in­tri­ca­cies of his knife­work, a hall­mark of a master Chi­nese chef, is ev­i­dent with ev­ery crunch of the pa­per-thin slices.

Liu is a bril­liant chef and not just be­cause he had over 40 years of culi­nary ex­pe­ri­ence in one of the most elite kitchens (the Bei­jing Ho­tel) for re­gional Chi­nese fare. It’s his pol­ished ex­e­cu­tion of the elu­sive aris­to­cratic Tan cui­sine. His star dish is the Stewed Fish Maw with Crab Claw in Supreme Chicken Broth, where fish maw is soaked in oil to cre­ate a fluffy, por­ous car­riage for a broth (of jin­hua huotiu, yuan bei and old hen) that’s both sweet yet savoury, light yet rich.

Over at Mizumi, the wea­ri­est of trav­ellers leave with a smile on their faces, thanks to master sushi chef Hideki Fu­jikawa. His bub­bly per­son­al­ity and mas­tery of Edo­mae-style sushi trumps the lan­guage bar­rier. The Tsuyahime rice grains (from Ya­m­a­gata pre­fec­ture) are kept at body tem­per­a­ture to al­low the seafood (or meat) to shine. Par­tic­u­larly mem­o­rable was the bonito, smoked à la minute with sakura wood. It was hard to put down my camera to cap­ture its im­mac­u­late pre­sen­ta­tion, but Fu­jikawa was adamant I savour it within 30 sec­onds of serv­ing.

The next wave

Wing Lei Palace has been teem­ing with ex­pec­tant din­ners since the ar­rival of Tam Kwok Fung in July. The il­lus­tri­ous chef had al­ready brought Jade Dragon two Miche­lin stars and the no. 28 spot on Asia’s 50 Best Restau­rants in 2018. Tam had in­stalled a cus­tom-built oven just for his roast meats. Sweet suc­cu­lent sliv­ers of goose thigh are wrapped in gelati­nous fat that’s jux­ta­posed against the crisp skin; it’s served with noth­ing else and is per­fect. Yet, Tam is far from sat­is­fied and humbly says, “It’s still a work in progress.”

It won’t sur­prise me to find ex­ec­u­tive chef Min Kim of Wynn Palace’s Mizumi on next year’s award list. Kim mar­ries his fer­vent de­vo­tion to omote­nashi and washoku for one of the most spec­tac­u­lar kaiseki meals I’ve ever had. Ev­ery dish was an art piece. A server would present the in­gre­di­ents in its raw (or live) form be­fore the dish. The one course that had ev­ery­one clam­our­ing for more? The shime (fi­nale) of char­coal-grilled Ky­oto fresh­wa­ter eel. What im­pressed wasn’t so much how fresh it was, but how Kim spends hours metic­u­lously pick­ing out over 300 small bones and slow-grilling the eel skin side down for a crisp tex­ture.

Over at SW Steak­house, the an­i­ma­tron­ics adds the­atrics to the meal, but the star of the show re­mains the prime dry-aged cuts; the Rangers Val­ley Black An­gus from Glen Innes is a crowd­favourite. Of the sides avail­able, make a bee­line for the Roasted Bone Mar­row with Bour­bon Braised Wagyu Ox­tail. The bar­rel-aged cock­tails by prop­erty mixol­o­gist Ti­mothy Ching are a hid­den gem. I’ve heard lit­tle of the cock­tail scene of Ma­cau, but his ne­groni and Wing Lei Old Fash­ioned, of bour­bon and stout re­duc­tion at Wing Lei Bar, eas­ily found a fan in me.

Stars align

If you need an­other rea­son to book your next flight, the Wynn Guest Chef se­ries ranks high. It’s an on­go­ing event where award­win­ning chefs and bar­tenders will guest shift at any of Wynn’s restau­rants and bars. What makes it spe­cial it that they will com­bine their sig­na­ture style with the es­tab­lish­ment’s.

A prime ex­am­ple? Hong Kong chef Alvin Le­ung. While known for his eclec­tic cre­ations at Bo In­no­va­tion, he im­pressed with a more re­fined take on his and Wing Lei Palace’s Can­tonese cui­sine. I tasted his cheung fun with A4 Saga Wagyu beef and first press su­pe­rior soy – his take on the Hong Kong snack – as well as a beau­ti­fully as­sem­bled har mi ver­mi­celli with wild Kiti­mat queen spot prawn, served with a brack­ish burnt leek ash pow­der to achieve wok hei. What bowled me over was the “Bo” chicken rice which was pre­sented as a risotto. Rather than shav­ings of Parmi­giana Reg­giano, he opted for sun-dried abalone and air-dried foie gras for that un­de­ni­able umami. Ev­ery dish was a com­plete cere­bral ex­pe­ri­ence.

Wing lei Bar, Wynn Palace

At Golden Flower, a tea som­me­lier pre­pares prized leaves sourced from var­i­ous re­gions of China to go along with ex­ec­u­tive chef Liu's Tan cui­sine. Mizumi Burger of uni, fatty tuna and crab by chef Hideki Fu­jikawa at the two Miche­lin-starred Mizumi.

Stewed Fish Maw with Crab Claw in Supreme Chicken Broth from Golden Flower.

Char­coal-grilled Ja­panese Eel from Ky­oto at Mizumi, Wynn Palace Ex­ec­u­tive chef Tam Kwok Fung Af­ter months of ex­per­i­ment­ing with his cus­tom-built oven, ex­ec­u­tive chef Tam Kwok Fung is ready to un­veil his fa­mous roast goose at Wing Lei Palace, Wynn Palace.

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