Taste test: Menu by three-star Michelin chef Philippe Marc
Three star recipient Chef Philippe Marc from France is in town to whip up a five-course menu and we sneak a taste. By Surekha Ragavan. Photography by Amir Rashid
Potato foam with smoked halibut and Arenkha caviar (pictured above)
The halibut is exceedingly salty but when paired with the neutrality of the potato foam, the flavours are well-balanced. The Arenkha caviar, being a substitute to typically rich caviar, is mild and slightly smoky. You won’t get the ‘pop’ as you do from real caviar but the sensation is unnecessary taking into account the strength of the halibut.
King crab and celeriac remoulade, Granny Smith apple and coral jus
Pretty as a picture, the crab starter is removed from its dreary beige shade by the vivid coral jus skillfully painted around the seafood structure. Coral jus – an emulsion of lobster stock, mustard and capers – is common in a typical Alain Ducase menu and considering Chef Philippe began his apprenticeship with the master, the jus is a justifiable addition. The crab itself is wonderfully creamy when paired with the crunchy green apple while the faraway tinge of ginger hits home.
Sea scallop topped with fine crispy dough, artichoke puree and truffles
A proud morsel of seared scallop sits in the centre, engulfed by a cloud-like foam, which we later learn is made of water, cream and Parmesan before air is whipped into it. While the foam itself provides a needed lightness to the richness of the dish, the artichoke puree is the real star here. Fruity, velvety and surprisingly sweet, we don’t remember a time when artichokes were made this dreamy.
Steamed sea bass fillet, green asparagus polenta and sweet and sour sauce
The sweet and sour sauce seemed rather dubious on the menu but in practice, the abrupt hit of vinegar in the sauce is what elevates the otherwise plain fish. The sauce – somewhat Asian in influence – is made of oyster sauce, coriander seeds, roast cinnamon, honey, ginger and apple vinegar. These strong flavours are accentuated when paired with the mild, flaking fish that rests rather luxuriously on a soft bed of polenta.
Crispy lamb cutlet, sautéed zucchini and artichokes ‘poivrade’ with caramelised onion jus
The man must like his artichokes. But unlike in the warm starter, it doesn’t steal the limelight and rightfully hands this role to the lamb. Timing is key here as the lamb is cooked not one second longer than it should, leaving a perfectly rosy middle and a tender cut on the knife. Mop the meat with the sweet caramelised onion jus and you have yourself a temporary trip to a lovely Parisian bistro. Even the bitterest of the non-dreamers would agree.
Chocolate and hazelnut pralines from Piemonte
The luxury begins with a brush of gold (dust?) along the smooth sheet of chocolate atop the praline. Lift it gently and you’ll see a sprinkling of roughly-chopped hazelnuts, neatly-squeezed chocolate ganache on mousse and lastly, a base of dark chocolate cake. Surprisingly, nothing about this dessert is decadent. Light as cotton yet rich as a king, this brilliant chocolate creation sees that the hazelnuts are rolled in caramel, providing as the only source of sweetness in this textural play.
The five-course menu is available at PRIME until Oct 27 and is priced at RM488++ (without wine) or RM598++ (with wine). For more info, see food listing.
About Chef Philippe Marc
Veteran French chef Paul Bucose once said ‘Michelin is the only guide that counts’. So when you have three stars to your name, it’s reasonable to be smug about it. But Chef Philippe Marc isn’t. As humble as a Provencal-era ratatouille, the French culinary mastermind appears to be almost shy when spoken to. Chef Philippe’s whimsical career started out with a positive appraisal from veteran three-starred legend, Alain Ducasse.
Ducasse took notice of the wonderkid and eventually offered him the position of Executive Chef at Plaza Athénée, a luxurious restaurant within the central Paris hotel that has served the likes of Grace Kelly, Jean Harlow, Michael Jackson, Oprah Winfrey and Anna Wintour. Not too shabby. Since then, the grandeur of his title doesn’t get to his head and even in the heart of Paris, freshness and quality of produce still tops Chef Philippe’s priority list. Although he specialises in classic French, a touch of science doesn’t hurt with the occasional whipping up of foam or temperature-challenging liquids.