DCODE, with Chef Darren Chin at Straits Quay, Penang

One of the great gastronomy highlights of last week, was being flown into Penang for DCODE, featuring Chef Darren Chin.

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DCODE or DCODE Reserve is a gastronomic journey of sight, sound and taste. The experience is also elevated by other notions involving a well orchestrated food presentation, cocktails as an accompaniment and even coffee.

And for those of you who are foodies residing in KL, you will know, or would have heard of Chef Darren Chin, for sure.

DC Restaurant located in TTDI is a restaurant that has a reputation for being warm and intimate albeit minimalistic, but most importantly, boasts of a cuisine that’s infused with the Chef’s candid personality and character. We hoped that tonight’s dinner would be no different.

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We arrive at Straits Quay convention center, and upon entering the holding area, we were greeted by cocktails, canapes of smoked ocean trout, as well as cured beef. There were live-stations where you could witness the chefs carving your food for you, as you mingled and waited for ‘the hour’ to arrive.


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the Serengeti Stimulant

Free flow cocktails kept the guests happy and occupied before dinner began. Amongst the rather clever cocktails served that night included the African Sunrise – Amarula, mango reduction, tropical fruit blend, as well as the Serengeti Stimulant – Amarula, fresh coffee, root beer and soda.

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the African Sunrise

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Mixologists wow-ing the patrons with their creative cocktails…

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Finally the hour arrived, and 70 odd guests, streamed into the main dining hall. The setting was simple yet elegant. Two long tables in a room with a stage. Jazz Band NJU set the mood and tone for the dinner party.

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We settled into our seats quickly and waited for dinner to begin.

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Finally, the seats were filled with guests and glitterati, and dinner began.

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L – Chef Darren Chin, R- MC Josiah Muzikami

But not before a few words for the esteemed Chef himself..

Chef Chin himself is French-trained, & while his menu incorporates the foundation of this culinary background, his food isn’t conventional, old school French, per se. It’s a lot more contemporary but employing fresh, local ingredients as far as possible, and his sauces are definitely unmistakably French.

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Oysters done two ways

On the left, Lightly Poached – Uni Emulsion, Jerusalem Artichoke, Avruga Caviar and on the right, Irish Oysters Natural – Ponzu Jelly, Pickled Ginger and Seaweed Caviar. In terms of flavour, both version were as different from each other, as day and night. I loved the one on the left for its rich, creamy almost milky texture and unmistakable, briny caviar & uni aroma. I loved the one on the right, for its simplistic preparation but with complex flavours shining through – tangy ponzu, and zesty ginger lingering long after the mouthful was gone. Both preparations showcased the exquisite freshness of the oysters well. Off to a fabulous start.

 

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Perigord Black Winter Truffle with Japanese Kabocha Pumpkin and grilled local slippery lobster

A more subtle version of your regular black truffles, these shavings of Perigord Black Winter Truffle were subtle and lightly fragranced. I would have preferred more of that musky, pheromone-like aroma, no doubt, but these complemented the sweet Pumpkin flavours and bouncy succulent slippery lobster medallions adequately.

And here’s a video, to show you the reason for the stark white expanse of table cloth, without any flowers or decorations. It was to be a canvas for these mini AV presentations, before each course was served. It was a fine way to introduce each dish, we thought. Loved the French score and the le petit chef animation!

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Then came the main course.

The Tonka Bean, with 18 hour slow roasted rack of lamb. I have to say, that Chef Chin is the master of sauces. I went a little gaga over this subtle Pear puree spiced with Tonka.. served with an insanely unctous and perfectly Seared Muscovy Duck Foie Gras, I was in heaven! The bitter, aromatic 1000 day cured Tonka bean brought complex vanilla, coconut, sour cherry, clove and liquorice flavours to the dish. That alone was enough to make my night a memorable one. There was also the slow roasted lamb and Marinated Shimeiji Mushrooms, Chestnut Cream and Burnt Onion Emulsion to contend with. All equally tasty and well balanced, and if not for a rather well done lamb (I always prefer mine medium rare), it would have been perfect.

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There was enough wine pairing that night to keep any gourmand happy, and so we enjoyed course after course without much effort.

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Dessert was particularly memorable and ended the night with many sighs of appreciation from the diners who flanked me. The Cafe au Dome of Mousse au Cafe, was a creative semi sphere of Bitter Arabica Ganache, Crispy Praline Crunch, Spiced Dark Chocolate, Macerated Cherries.

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This luscious combination of chocolate and cream was smooth, bitter and sweet in the right proportions, & was deliciousness personified.

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Just had to grab a quick photo with, Chef Darren Chin after such an amazing dinner, that really showed off his culinary prowess!

All in all, a most impressive gastronomy experience with DCODE. The events of the night were well organized and flowed seamlessly. The food was immaculately well presented.  We can’t wait to try more of Chef Darren Chin’s ever evolving menu back in KL, either. This was definitely one great dinner to remember.

Add:
DCODE Party,
Straits Quay Marina Mall  
Jalan Seri Tanjung Pinang
10470 Tanjong Tokong,
Penang
Tell:+60 4-891 8000

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