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The fourth and final chapter of “Chefs' Satellite Spots”, the series of articles published by Fine Dining Lovers on alternative restaurants run by or owned by acclaimed chefs now focuses on Asia and Oceania, two of the most prominent continents in the food world, where some of the best chefs are creating a new and invigorating scene.
If both of them have always been known for their ancient, traditional recipes and ingredients, today they may be some of the places where gastronomy seems to reinvent itself more and more – thanks to cooks and restaurateurs willing to update and re-create concepts, respecting their roots.
In Bangkok, where Asia's #1 restaurant is located, according to the acclaimed list of 50 Best, chef Gaggan Anand, who holds the position, is dedicated to renovating the city scene, bringing broader concepts to the restaurants he decided to invest in: this is the case of the Mihara Tofuten, a tofu-based business opened in Sathorn's hip neighborhood.
In Russia, chef Vladimir Mukhin explores the flavors of every corner of the country and has helped to update the local gastronomy - he is a partner in a local group that runs dozens of restaurants in Moscow, Sochi, and Astana.
Now, check out the far east restaurants in our last episode of “Chefs' Satellite Spots”, and start planning a visit to these places with a renowned chef signature.
Chef Behind it. Gaggan Anand
Type of cuisine. A tofu-focused omakase-style eatery
Opened in. 2018
An Indian chef running a tofu-focused restaurant in Thailand’s capital sounds a little odd, but when you find out that Gaggan Anand is the guy behind it, it suddenly seems to make sense. Gaggan has become known for pushing the boundaries of his hometown culinary, creating his own trademark Asian cuisine in creative dishes – such as his signatures Yogurt Explosion and Lobster Dosa.
As a savvy restaurant investor, Gaggan has bet in new talents including twin chefs Matias and Thomas Sühring, from the eponymous restaurant (No.13 in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants last year), and young Indian chef Garima Arora, who used to be his right hand at his stellar Gaggan, and who now runs the modern Indian restaurant Gaa.
More recently, he also teamed up with some partners (including Takeshi Fukuyama of La Maison de La Nature Goh, with whom he intends to open a new restaurant in Japan in 2020) to set up an omakase-style tofu restaurant in Bangkok’s Sathorn neighborhood. Gaggan first met Mihara, a tofu-specialized eatery in Fukuoka, and made up his mind to take the concept to Bangkok, the city where he is building his restaurant empire.
It’s a long omakase/tasting menu that serves many variations of tofu, such as a yuki tofu in a bento box, zaru tofu (a tofu aged in a traditional bamboo basket, fried and topped with jam and mitake) and momen tofu, a light version of the bean curd.
But there are also other ingredients, like the A5 Hokkaido wagyu steak and tongue, served with Mihara's soy milk and mashed potatos, and the grilled managatsuo fish in miso sauce. The recipes are served according to the ingredients arriving from Japan - the freshness is what determines the menu. The tofu is also delivered daily from the Mihara factory in Fukuoka.
The tofu is the main star even in the desserts, such as the tofu ice cream with peach jam and the blancmange, a Japanese pudding with tofu, ginger and an espresso. A proof that the bean curd is quite versatile – and world-wide desired.
Chef behind it. Vladimir Mukhin
Type of cuisine. Chef’s special for exclusive guests
Opened in. 2017
It is no exaggeration to say that chef Vladimir Mukhin is in the vanguard of a new wave of young Russian culinary talents. He was one of the pioneers in putting his local cuisine in the spotlight of the high gastronomic scene.
For seven long decades, Soviet domain stifled the development of Russia's gastronomic tradition - the grand cultural heritage that remained until 1917, with the Bolsheviks. Now, young local chefs are trying to recover the ground.
With his White Rabbit, Mukhim placed Moscow in the route of dozens of foodies and taste hunters across the world and began a Russian revolution by embracing the country's culinary traditions. Mukhim is part of the White Rabbit Family group (with more than a dozen restaurants spread around Moscow, Sochi, and Astana), in which he is a partner and brand manager, and also oversees all the menus.
One of them is the exclusive Chef's Table, so-called the first Russian chef's table restaurant with a focus on tasting menus, where gastronomic dinners, wine tastings and closed events happen in the chamber of this 18th century mansion, designed for only sixteen guests at a time, in Moscow.
The menu changes every week, depending on the chef who is in charge of the kitchen - the best cooks of the White Rabbit Family and other restaurants in Moscow and St. Petersburg, create their own menu. There is only one sitting row, where the guests are very close to the chef’s performance.
Under his tutelage, Mukhim commands a menu named Russian Evolution, which serves dishes such as caviar of sea urchin and sea-buckthornc, grape leaves with tomatoes and corned beef, and staked honey and green gooseberry. Other chefs such as Anatoly Kazakov (from Selfie), Artem Losev (from Mushrooms restaurant) and Vasily Zaitsev (from Chicha) also cook here, showing their work to an exclusive audience.
Chef behind it: Peter Gilmore
Type of cuisine. Australian farm-to-table with a chef’s signature.
Opened in. 2015
Born and bred in Sydney, Australian chef Peter Gilmore helped create a modern local culinary by making his restaurant, Quay, one of the best of Oceania. Gilmore has become known for his food inspired by nature and his rigorous cuisine. He was one of the pioneers to embrace heirloom varieties of vegetables, and rescue traditional local flavors.
In 2015, he and his associates at the Fink Group decided to reopen the Bennelong restaurant in the iconic Sydney Opera House, giving new culinary directions to one of the city's largest postcards. From the beginning, the restaurant has won several acollades and has taken the title for "Best New Restaurant" according to the Australian Restaurant Awards. The group has also other restaurants such as OTTO, Firedoor and The Bridge Room.
The menu is created by Gilmore together with his head chef Rob Cockerill, inspired by conversations with local farmers, fishermen, breeders and suppliers to showcase pristine Australian produce from all over the country.
“It’s a two way process: we’re responding to what’s in season and the best of what producers are bringing us, but on another level, we are planning menus a season or two ahead, working hand-in-glove with our producers to develop ingredients tailored to our menus”, as Gilmore explains.
Serving à la carte options – from which one can choose from a two- or three-course menu – to snacks at the casual seating area in The Circle dining room, Bennelong is a place to please all tastes. The menu highlights local ingredients such as Tasmanian truffles, feijoas, a green fruit also known as pineapple guava, and the famous pig from Macleay Valley.
The restaurant also counts on a bar located exactely under the Opera House’s shell for signature cocktails and a Cured & Cultured cuisine, ideal for a bite to eat over a glass of Australian wine. They have more than 180 of the country’s favourite and small-scale wine labels. It’s the best stop for a pre or post-performance meal – with the spectacular view over the Harbour Bridge.
Mr and Mrs Bund
Chef behind it: Paul Pairet
Type of cuisine. Modern French classics with world’s accents
Opened in. 2015
Chef Paul Pairet could also be known as the ambassador of French cuisine in China: few cooks have been so important to spread the cuisine française in the eastern country as he.
But if Pairet has helped shape the fine dining scene in Shanghai with his avant-garde multi-sensory restaurant Ultraviolet, he now wants to show that he can go beyond and present fresh new concepts to the Chinese people – without, however, leaving behind his roots.
Mr and Mrs Bund is his attempt to recreate a modern French eatery in a more entertaining way – for his guests and for himself. “We riff on classics, we dish up comfort cuisine, and we serve it just like you would Sunday night dinner”, says the restaurant presentation.
It's a straightforward, comfort menu focusing on French classics (expect foie gras and frites) but with some accents here and there, like in the ribs in teriyaki sauce with orange reduction and garlic chips or the gazpacho with tomato and anchovies.
The sections are organized by the main ingredient in each dish, such as “potato” or “beef”, for example, to guide the guests through the very large menu. Pairet uses his boundless creativity to impress his guests also in his platings, such as the steamed jumbo shrimp sitting in a citrus sauce inside a glass jar.
The lively decor also helps to create a cheerful atmosphere, as well as the fact that Mr and Mrs Bund is one of the Shanghai's first late-night dining restaurants - which means the bustling room is always crowded until late at night.