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Image 1: www.domrestaurante.com.br Chef: Alex Atala
Former DJ Alex trained as a chef in Belgium, France, and Italy. He then decided to return home and explore the local produce, incorporating his culinary heritage into his cuisine.
Image 2: There are chefs who believe that all the ingredients the world has to offer have been discovered, but that certainly was not the case with Chef Atala who has access to 2000 sq. km rainforest of the Amazon! This restaurant can be construed as the pioneer of modern Brazilian gastronomy.
Image 3: An extremely high ceiling dining room with an 18-feet wooden door!
Image 4: For those who were wondering, D.O.M. stands for Dominus Optimo Maximo meaning "the best and the greatest". How very befitting.
Image 5: We had the D.O.M. Tasting Menu, 8 course + cheese + 2 desserts, for about USD$170. The receptionist of the restaurant was very friendly and tried her best to translate most of the ingredients to us for each course.
Image 6: Dipping for bread: Fresh cheese, Garlic puree, Butter
Image 7: They also provided us with a Brazilian salted butter. It was soft and creamy!
Image 8: The menu started off with his signature dish, "Citrus green tomato gel with Amazonian herb and flower". It was a colourful and refreshing starter showcasing various flavours from the Amazon like wild coriander seeds, Peruvian corn, and various aromatic herbs. The citrus jelly underneath was quite mild, not distracting the flavours of the unique ingredients.
Image 9: Laying on top of a crunchy paper of palm hearts were carpaccio of sea scallop with citronella oil, seaweed purée, local herbs, and pear sticks. The freshness of the moist scallops and the pear's fruity sweetness, combined with the flavours from the exotic herbs and the crunchiness from the palm heart - What a fabulous course!
Image 10: Covered with salmon roe and tapioca marinated in rice vinaigrette...
Image 11: ... was an oyster in brioche crust. We were not sure about this course as our palate was dominated by vinegar! The soaked crust became very gluey and the gummy tapioca wasn't pleasant either! We couldn't even feel nor taste the oyster!
Image 12: Toasted black rice in Brazilian nut milk with green vegetables. Very interesting rice texture - crispy on the outside but slightly sticky inside, which reminded us of Chinese purple sticky rice. Some of the seeds from the vegetables gave us a tingling sensation on our tongue, although we were not quite sure which one it was. An intriguing dish!
Image 13: Fillet of ray and smoked arracacha with broccoli and peanut foam. Arrachcha is a Brazilian root vegetable similar to sweet potato.
Image 14: This course was all about okra, also known as lady's finger. Roasted okra resting in an okra consommé along with some chopped okra and an okra crisp garnish. Another good course!
Image 15: A concentrated veal jus with tucupi and Amazonian herbs. Tucupi is a sauce extracted from wild manioc root which is boiled for hours in order to eliminate poison as it contains cyanide!
Image 16: Our server then poured over an intense wild mushroom bisque. Wow, it was like taking flavours from thousands of mushrooms and packing them into this airy soup. Mixing in the savoury veal stock with tucupi from the bottom added a deep, and quite an addictive, flavour to the dish! Oh my god, tasty, very tasty!
Image 17: Perfectly braised veal shank accompanied with samp, topped with a thin slice of lardo and chives. Samp is similar to porridge, but made with the soft inner part of corn kernels, and is often served with meat. The fork tender veal had a great depth of taste but the samp wasn't my cup of tea.
Image 18: Our cheese course was delivered by a server playing with this aligot in the air while walking towards our table!
Image 19: It was a melted cheese blended with mashed potato to form this elastic texture. This aligot was made with two kinds of local cheese. In all honesty, the aligot we had in Michel Bras was better. The texture was perfect but probably the cheese made the difference.
Image 20: Dessert time! Starting from the left, an exotic fruit with jelly texture similar to snow fungus. Then a delicate lemon banana ravioli, and a priprioca-scented milk pudding. Priprioca is a plant unique to the Amazon only.
Image 21: The final course of the night -- resting on salty dark chocolate sauce was a peanut cake topped with whiskey sorbet. The chocolate had a hint of Indian curry flavour that our server denied and disagreed, only to be corrected after consulting the chef! Bitter sorbet, sweet cake, curry chocolate! Hmmm, a very weird dessert to finish the meal!
I enjoyed the flavours from each dish, with the wild mushroom bisque with veal stock being my favourite. And it is always good to taste some new ingredients. Overall, a great experience of Amazonian flavours and definitely merits a revisit!