The meal started with 4 different ‘snacks’. The first one was crispy chicken skin and crunchy tapioca flavored with Japanese sardines. They tasted SO GOOD on its own but even better dipped in the hazelnut and carrot emulsion. The tapioca crisp is a real winner – I wish I could bring a jar of it home and eat the whole thing in front of the TV.
The last ‘snack’ was anti-climactic. Cubes of aloe vera flesh marinated in sugar syrup and lemon peel, topped with thinly sliced fennel. I thought it was interesting as I’ve never seen aloe vera being used in a fine dining menu before. An A for texture but a C for flavor – it didn’t taste bad but it didn’t really taste like anything either.
As much as I love food, I hate to admit that I’m not very courageous when it comes to eating unusual animals or its various parts (e.g. pig’s trotter, any kind of liver except goose, frogs, turtles, etc.). BUT this course was an exception. Underneath that juicy lobster was 2 pieces of extremely crispy duck tongue. To the side is lobster brain – amazingly buttery brain, like a ball of fat that just melts in your mouth. Thin slices of apples and a dollop of apple puree nicely complements the warm lobster broth that permeates the entire dish.
Shima (striped) ebi cured in salt with pumpkinseed oil, clam juice and beach herbs. I’m a big fan of sweet ebi so I really wish I could say that I liked this dish, but it was all a bit too fishy for me. But my dinner companion A loved it, so to his each his own, I guess.
Next to the lobsters and the yam skin snack, this was the other total STANDOUT of the night – Iberico pork grilled in charcoal and served with rapeseed oil and black garlic puree. The pork was pink and tender with just the right fat content. You could smell and taste the smokiness from the charcoal – amazing. The best part though was the black garlic. You can’t see it in the picture but there is a mound of it underneath the greens. It is sticky, black like tar but SWEET, sort of reminds me of syrup-y aged balsamic vinegar. Who knew garlic could taste like that?! This was my favorite course of the night and I would go back to FiftyThree just to have it again.
Green pepper panna cotta with cereal flakes and dried strawberries. The server then takes out a mini-fire hydrant-like contraption and out comes pink goo that quickly bubbled and fizzled. We were told to dig in right away before everything turned into a puddle of pink soup. The foam was interesting and tasted like strawberry-flavored Sprite, but the panna cotta I didn’t enjoy at all. The green pepper flavor and the zing from the Balinese long pepper that was sprinkled all over were a bit off for me.
Chocolate parfait with shreds of dried coconut and mango, plated with mango sorbet and fresh mangosteen. You don’t often see chocolate being paired with tropical fruits. I loved the mangosteen and the dried mango.
Gin and tonic gums – alcoholic silicone implant version of gummy bears – this one is definitely not child’s play. The server told us to put it on our tounges and to chew on it when the taste gets too strong. I held mine in there for a good 5 seconds before it got unbearably bitter and I had to spit it out. Very interesting meal finisher - never had anything like it before, but I much prefer traditional petit fours.
To those who are considering going to FiftyThree, I would say yes! definitely try it! I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. I wouldn’t give ALL the courses a thumbs up, but the majority of it I liked, a few even blew me away, and the others that I didn’t love so much, I would still applaud for the creativity. In general, I think the desserts paled in comparison to the savory courses. By the way, a lot of reviewers bashing FiftyThree seem to have gone there for lunch and not dinner – something to consider. For those who have come out saying they hate this place, I say give it another chance and email ahead to get a copy of the menu and alter ingredients you may not like (yes, the Chef emailed me personally on a few questions I had on the menu).
Would I go back? Most definitely.