Tummies love the leisure
The St Regis Bangkok works tasty, healthy miracles in slow cooking
New York City's healthy slow-cooking trend has arrived in Bangkok, with Leonardo Concezzi of Michelin fame introducing a "chef's table" menu of leisurely prepared food at the restaurant VIU at the St Regis hotel.
Taking his cue from the original St Regis in the Big Apple, Concezzi says slow cooking is healthier - and tastier - because it retains more nutrients and allows for a better distribution of flavours. Meat is more tender. Health-promoting enzymes don't get broken down.
He prepares for a group of visiting writers a 10-course banquet of traditional favourites with modern Asian twists, all in full view in his frenzied open kitchen. The action is fast-paced even as the chef spares time to share the philosophy behind each dish.
We begin with Spicy Salmon Seaweed Truffle Tapenade and follow with 52 Degree Sous Vide Boston Lobster with Wasabi Buffalo Mozzarella Foam. The lobster is steamed for one minute at 80 degrees, then unshelled. The meat is marinated in a mix of Madagascar vanilla, olive oil, salt and thyme and run through the sous vide vacuum at 52 degrees for seven minutes.
It ends up tasting somewhere between raw and cooked, incredibly soft and tender thanks to the sous vide process, which helps maintain the integrity of the ingredients.
Press Moulard French Duck Foie Gras comes next. The chef compresses the duck liver in a mould with a red-wine reduction layer by layer, and then brings it to vacuum before roasting it with bain-marie. Finally it's chilled with ice.
The going gets heavier with Yellow Fin Tuna & Kamichiku Kobe Pave, followed by Lasagna Raviolo in Lemon Potato Mash.
My favourite is the 58 Degree Steamed Snow Fish Infused in White Truffle Essence, which is to die for. I think slow cooking is at its best with seafood. Pork and beef have tough connective tissue that are dissolved and tenderised to the point of creaminess, but they lack that sense of freshness found in seafood cooked this way.
Other reporters prefer the Kurobuta Pork Glazed, with its custard-like consistency. The chef marinates the pork belly with shoyu and ginger for two hours, then slow-cooks it with ginger, bonito, butter, shitake, shoyu and sake at 73 degrees for no less than 40 hours! It melts in the mouth.
The dinner wraps up with Chocolate Dome, Celery Tiramisu in Valrhona Chocolate Sauce, a fun and tasty variation on the popular dessert. It looks like a grenade, but stick your fork into the dome and it crumbles and melts quickly.
Behind the slow-cooking concept is admirable care for the health and the palate can't help but be pleased, but be prepared for a longer-than-usual dining experience - at least two hours.
Easy does it
VIU is on the 12th floor of the St Regis Bangkok. Call (02) 207 7801 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.