You could find yourself in Italian gastronomic heaven from January 11 to 14 at Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur, as visiting Michelin-starred executive chef Mario Cittadini presents the fruits of his travels and experience on the Mandarin Grill table.
Malaysian lovers of Italian food are in for a treat. From January 11 to 14, Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur’s Mandarin Grill is hosting Michelin-starred Chef Mario Cittadini in his sophomore presentation of carefully-curated Italian menus.
Currently executive chef at Mandarin Oriental Singapore, Chef Mario’s epicurean sense is dictated by a flair for turning everyday products into delectable fine cuisine. He is guided by the belief that ingredients and diners come before the chef and his techniques. Chef Mario’s sensitivity shines through his dishes with a playful tone that honours simplicity first and foremost, representing the skill he refined over two decades in kitchens around the world.
Following the encouraging response of his KL debut last year, the soft-spoken Tuscany native is back to excite Malaysian palates with new flavours and ingredients. Here are eight selections Chef Mario treated us to from the lunch and dinner menus available now.
Lightly cured mackerel with salsa rubra and eggplant
Easing us into his trademark Italian flair, Chef Mario's first offering was a sgombro (mackerel) ode to the beauty of simplicity. Slightly salty slices of cured fish are complemented by an eggplant dressed in tomatoes and olives, best enjoyed with mild salsa rubra to elevate flavour.
Poached Boston lobster with juices, green peas, and fermented plum vinegar
Astice is Italian for American lobster - the star of this dish. The freshness of the lobster is highlighted by its juices, in the form of a light foam that disappears as soon as it touches your tongue.
Beef tongue & foie gras terrine with beetroot and cherry
A display of Chef Mario's culinary skill, this terrine is a sparse-but-rich play on texture and composition. Small cuts of beef tongue are layered with creamy foie gras to deliver a rich flavour catered to the bold gastronomist. Served with just a drop of beetroot sauce, alongside beetroot and cherry for sweet tartness that cleanses the palate.
Lemon risotto with langoustine spezzatino
Mildly cheesy and incredibly warm, this zesty risotto must be the freshest we've tasted. Generously garnished with blended herbs and spices, it contains bits of prawn that switch up flavour and texture profiles. As far as risotto goes, this one's a winner best appreciated in small portions. It is accompanied by a delicious bite-sized langoustine (lobster), served on an airy, crunchy brioche base.
Tortelli with parmesan emulsion and black truffle caviar
Don't let the first look fool you - this triple tortelli delight is anything but light. Perfectly rolled tortelli hide an emulsified parmesan surprise which oozes out ever so slightly with every cut. This cheesy flavour is balanced by the semi-salty caviar topping the otherwise-bare dish, together delivering a classic Italian favourite with calculated modern simplicity.
Slow-braised Australian beef cheek with mushrooms and black truffle
The scent of fine black truffle invades your olfactory senses as soon as this dish is set on the table, but that's not a complaint. Colourful as it is tender, this brasato (braised) beef is served with two delicious purees - one mushroom, and one avocado-truffle. An army of tiny mushroom guard the squid-like King Oyster mushroom, guaranteeing a treat for meat and mushroom fans alike.
We've never seen anything like this creative pre-dessert, which is essentially deconstructed tiramisu disguised as caviar. This multi-textured delight is topped with 'caviar' coffee for a perfect dose of coffee taste to the sweet treat. Chef Mario aims to surprise, it seems, as you won't even notice the added pop rocks until they start dancing around in your mouth.
Warm dark chocolate tart with salted caramel and vanilla ice cream
The perfect end to our Italian culinary journey arrived in the form of this tarteletta al cioccolato, equally beautiful on the plate as on the palate. It's a masterful manipulation of flavours and textures - bitter dark chocolate with sweet salted caramel, vanilla ice cream with ground vanilla, and most noticably, the crispy-soft chocolate tart. All these are elements that convince us of Chef Mario's silently impressive skill, leaving no room for doubt on his Michelin-star recognition.
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Treat yourself and loved ones to a 3, 4-, and 5-course lunch (RM148, RM178, and RM198 per person respectively), or a 5- and 7- course dinner (RM298 and RM388 per person respectively). This Michelin-starred Italian sojourn is only available for four days, so call 03-2179 8960 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your seats now.
Photography: Gan Yew Chin