From now till 30 October 2022, internationally acclaimed culinary powerhouse, Chef Virgilio Martínez from No. 2 World’s Best Restaurant, Central, and Pía León, No. 1 World Best Female Chef from Kjolle restaurant, and their world-class team from Peru will be taking residency at Mandala Masters in Singapore.
Inspired by the stages of elevation through Peru, MASL – Meters Above Sea Level, is a culinary exploration and celebration of Peruvian mega biodiversity and ingredients.
I was gently greeted by the calming and welcoming scent in the restaurant after the receptionist ushered my guest and I into the restaurant. To create such atmosphere, the MASL team has thoughtfully curated and prepared an incense that is burnt before the start of each service.
Diego Villagrán, the head mixologist from Central restaurant, introduced us to the main Peruvian ingredients that are featured in the tasting menu on the Central’s signature ingredient table.
This ingredient table is specially shipped from Peru to Singapore and you’ll find the same table if you visit Central restaurant in Peru.
I later found out that some of the bigger wooden tables are also brought in from Central even though I was seated at one of the white-cloth tables provided at Art restaurant, the venue that is housing MASL.
The idea is to get as close to dining at Central as possible during this 3-month residency besides bringing in the ingredients and team.
Starting with 5 Meters Below Sea Level’s ingredients: Crab, Clam and Carabinero. Exquisitely presented in their signature styles, these are as close to what you can get at Central restaurant in Lima.
To get the best of both drink pairing experiences, my guest went for the cocktail pairing, while I had the wine pairing. The refreshing and delicious cocktail pairing is created by Alonso Palomino, the co-owner and bartender at Lady Bee from Lima, Peru.
I loved that this collaboration also brings in the best of Lima from restaurant chefs to mixologists. Diners like myself who have not been to Lima yet, get to enjoy the best of Lima in Singapore during this limited-time residency.
In this 2nd course at MASL, we go 10 Meters Below Sea Level with Squid and Caviar Abalone.
Both seaweed dough crisp and cracker are made from squid broth that is surprisingly refreshing with great textures.
Going 3280 Meters Above Sea Level, this amazing bread is made from Maca Root with a special recipe created by Chef Pía León.
Accompanied with Hibiscus Uchucuta Jam and Yacob Root Yogurt Cream Spread, this course is easily one of my favorites. Head Chef
I’m glad it wasn’t served at the beginning of the meal like most restaurants would. I enjoyed it so much that the team actually gave me an extra loaf at the end of the service (I was over the moon).
Taking you 3550 Meters Above Sea Level in this course by Head Chef Bernabé Simón Padrós, this multi-color corn that is jam-packed with antioxidants is cultivated under high altitude conditions, in warm temperatures and mineral-rich soils.
This exotic-looking corn is a type of Andean Maizes that is widely produced in Peru yet rare to find in Singapore.
Together with Peruvian Kiwicha (small gluten-free seeds that high in fiber and protein), Cancha (toasted corn nut) and corn crisps, this well-known Peruvian corn is made into a stunning course that tastes beautifully earthy, comforting and subtly sweet, with a character.
Such fine food with down-to-earth and healthy ingredients changed my perspective about the world of “common” ingredients. This turns out to be one of my favourite dishes from this dining experience.
Got your attention with the Hokkaido Uni but the real 🌟 of this dish is the Spirulina for me. Perhaps some guests only care about the typical and showy ingredients like caviar, uni and the likes to make up for the “price” they pay for. And every fine dining establishment needs customers like them too. But if you are like me, a little nerdy and loves broadening your horizons through the food you eat, then keep going. How often do you get so many superfood ingredients like Spirulina, Maca Root, Peruvian Corn, Kiwicha in fine dining menu? Peru is the world’s superfood capital. Their spectacular native produce is biodiverse with cooking techniques and cultures from around the world that are brought in to the country through centuries of immigration. Even though Peru being one of the world’s top culinary destinations, Peruvian cuisine is still underrated in Singapore. MASL gives you a taste of @centralrest until you get the full experience in Peru. This course is 0 Meters Above Sea Level topped with Uni, Spirulina crisps with Scallop ceviche and tiger milk dressing underneath.
Heading up 1650 Meters Above Sea Level, this is the 6th course of the lunch menu with Peruvian Potato cooked in intense fire, cured Wagyu and Egg Yolk.
This delicious, humble potato is a treasured crop and plays an important part of Peruvian heritage.
So far, the drink pairing has been impeccable for us. My favourite pairing is this Don Melchor’s Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 that tastes very refined, elegant yet full bodied with ultra-fine tannins and a lasting finish.
I like that the wine/cocktail pairing comes with every two courses as I could take my time to enjoy the food and pairing thoroughly without getting overwhelmed by the drinks.
At 2700 Meters Above Sea Level, the Pork Belly with Cassava purée (a type of root vegetable – yucu/tapioca), is topped with a rich and earthy tuile made from Andean Mushrooms.
The cabbage on the side is spot on and goes perfectly with this course.
Even though I’m very much a seafood and meat lover, I find that restaurants that know how to treat the vegetables right tells me a lot about how meticulous and tasteful they are and MASL team has nailed it.
This last course brings us 1450 Meters Above Sea Level with main ingredients: Cacao, Hidromiel and Mango for desserts with wine and cocktail pairing. It is an elegantly sweet ending.
All in all, the dining experience at MASL is the tip of the iceberg.
Now I’m very much looking forward to my future visit to Lima, Peru to experience the Central restaurant (World’s 50 Best 2022: No. 2 Best Restaurant in the World and No. 1 Best Restaurant in Latin America) and Kjolle restaurant (No. 8 Best Restaurant in Latin America) and meeting the culinary powerhouses, Pía León (World 50 Best Female Chef) and Virgilio Martínez in person.
Mandala Masters: MASL
Date: 1 August – 30 October 2022
Address: Art Restaurant, 1 St Andrew’s Road #06-02, National Gallery Singapore, Singapore 178957
Lunch (Wed-Sun): S$320++
Optional wine or cocktail pairing: Additional S$188++
Dinner (Wed-Sun): S$448++
Optional wine or cocktail pairing: Additional S$250++
This was a hosted lunch experience, however, all opinions and comments are strictly my own.
Eunice Lim is the editor of FOODTRAVELBABE. To contact her, please email to email@example.com.
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