No visit to 1-Michelin starred Au Jardin
is incomplete without sampling the Cognac & Jay Aged Duck. We were told by
the service team the Butterworth-sourced ducks are aged 6-14 days with hay,
cognac and orange, and this main course has to be pre-ordered at least two days
prior to your visit (with a supplementary charge of RM75).
Presented with some fanfare in a
specially designed case filled with smoked hay at the tableside, the delectable
duck came served alongside fig gel, figs rehydrated in balsamic, pomme purée,
and yuzu split jus. Once we had a taste of the juicy duck breast, we realise
why this speciality remains a popular mainstay. However, the Wild Caught Barracuda with
watermelon radish, konbu, cilantro root emulsion, pandan oil was the unheralded
show-stopper. The fish’s inherent sweetness was exquisite and the attendant
ingredients’ delicate flavours simply amplified it further. I wouldn’t mind a
bigger portion of it though.
Even before the Michelin Guide recognition, chef proprietor Su Kim Hock is already making waves among
fine food connoisseurs with his artisanal menu designed to showcase the
freshest local and seasonal ingredients; shining the spotlight on the culinary
traditions of Penang and Malaysia through beautifully crafted dishes.
18-seater Au Jardin is located in a quaint repurposed warehouse within the
former Hin Bus Depot in Georgetown. As we stepped into the
elegant restaurant’s little courtyard adorned with potted orchids, towering
palms and a leafy tree, we found its high ceiling let in plenty of light. After
ascending a flight of stairs, we found ourselves in a cosy dining space
outfitted with a bar and a trio of origami bird-shaped light fixtures serving as
the focal point.
Au Jardin’s menu degustation (RM388++
per person) not only adheres to Chef Kim Hock’s ‘buy local first’ philosophy,
but also showcases with aplomb his
skilful culinary expertise, artistry and inspirations drawn from his own culinary
journey and past travels.
Our lunch started with two beguiling amuse bouche: dainty nests of dehydrated glass noodles – deep-fried
to crunchy crispness – topped with lumpfish emulsion, orange mascarpone and
salmon roe, and little charcoal choux pastry balls filled with bacon and
truffle cream and crowned with a sliver of white truffle shaving on top.
Suffice to say, these left us in eager anticipation of what to expect.
Warm, crusty slices of lacto-fermented
bread came next, accompanied by house-made tomato chutney butter and curry leaf oil – a
flavoursome pairing inspired by thosai.
That paved the way for Hericium Mushroom Remoulade, a
lush and creamy monkey head mushroom broth dusted with cep powder. For textural
contrast, we savoured a diminutive boat-shaped feuille de brick (light
lacy-satiny Tunisian pastry dough) with chopped Hericium mushroom, black garlic
espuma and kaffir lime leaves.
The quenelle of Century Egg Ice Cream served atop
diced Hokkaido scallops and century egg ‘white’ was sublime. Tiny coral horn-shaped
gingerbread added a touch of playfulness to the ensemble.
For a supplementary charge of RM250, the Grand Caviar
Au Jardin lent a touch of extravagance to our lunch. Twisting open the tin lid,
we dug into the sturgeon caviar-topped picked lobster with cauliflower crémeux
using a mother of pearl spoon. It was an indulgent treat but heck, we only live
A fleeting burst of tongue-prickling heat
from the zingy Sichuan pepper emulsion hit our tastebuds when we sampled the Cured
Red Snapper Tartare with salted longan jelly and Nashi pear. The cohesive
flavours were delicate yet palate-pleasing.
We also opted for the A3 Wagyu (A5 is the
other choice) with Celeriac Purée, Jus Maison and Grain Mustard (supplementary
charge of RM280). No surprises here as the steak was on-point - it was a failsafe albeit unexciting choice.
Our faith was restored by the delicious Mussel
Parfait Beignets which dialled up the big, hearty flavour quotient. It was
a nice teaser before we segued into enjoying the ephemeral sweetness of the Braised
Topped with lumpfish roe, we found a
smoky-sweet steamed mussel tucked inside the rolled cabbage. Savoury-sweet braising
liquid dotted with parsley oil completed this splendid dish.
We adore the Magnum Sorbet – ice lollies
made from blended guava and kaffir lime leaves, sheathed in a shell of red
wine-infused coconut oil touched with sour plum powder and popping candy.
Delightfully refreshing, kudos to the chef for making such ingenious use of our
It nearly eclipsed the dessert of Over
Ripen William Pear with Madagascan Vanilla Ice Cream. Admittedly, this creative
treat was enticing in its own right, thanks to the myriad of airy-light
textures and sweet subtleties bestowed by vanilla sponge, sugarless meringue,
canalé royale and brulée.
Service was personable and attentive –
the team took time to explain each and every dish to us, and capably answered
our queries. They also anticipated and swiftly attended to our needs throughout
the lunch so we had no room for complaints.
For reservations, contact Au Jardin,
tel: 012-428 9594 or book via TableApp. Address: The Warehouse @ Hin Bus Depot, 125,
Jalan Timah, Georgetown, Penang. Business hours: Thursday, Friday,
Saturday & Sunday: 1130am – 230pm;
5pm – 10pm.
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