Describing your feeling before coming to Teatro Gastroteque is like waiting eagerly for the first performance of an award-winning play or the first screening of a well-anticipated film – exciting, thrilling, and most dominant of all, high expectations-inducing. Of course the three-year gap between our last visit and now expands our expectation threshold even more.
About the aforementioned evolution in Mandif’s enterprise, so far he’s opened an Indonesian fine dining joint in Ubud, an elevated dedication to street food in Kuta, and an elusive bar. It’s quite obvious that he has his plate full at the moment, so it’s only sensible that he assigns the fantastic stage of Teatro to someone with much respected experience and accolades.
Enter the notorious chef Maxie Millian, who took the executive chef throne since 2015. A veteran in Bali’s culinary scene, chef Maxie has worked his way up since his commis days in Dubai to handling five-star kitchens in Bali, in addition to being awarded with gold and silver medals in competitions in the UK and UAE. The impressive resume – plus his infamous strong personality in the kitchen – makes us more eager to witness (and taste) his works of wonder.
ACTS 1 TO 13
Yes, you read that right. We have a degustation menu consists of 13 whopping dishes. We start with the aperitifs in the form of light but memorable bites: baby potato with rieete beef and pistachio crumbles, authentic mandu with sambal balado teri Medan filling, and a fruity beetroot panna cotta. The array is tiny, cute, and rich with interesting mix of flavours, textures and picturesque presentation – the mandu in particular is very eye-catching with its diamond-shaped dumpling wrappings. From there we go straight to the amuse bouche, the delicate and smooth mushroom soup. A few spoonful of the soup makes a perfect bridge that takes us to the mains.
If this were an actual play, the mains would be the second act, where the adventure and suspense usually happen. Five dishes are served, and boy, what an adventure this is. The first one is a simple tomato salad topped with Granny Smith apples and drizzled with white tomato consommé – just the right refreshing tone to start the entire bang and boom. Then comes our first main protein: roasted king prawn and corn fritter, served with pome sauce. Quite the clash between the prawn, savoury fritter, and the sweet sauce, but the combination works rather well.
They cool the pace down a little with yuzu sorbet, lychee, and sago pearls as a palate cleanser. Cool and sweet, this gives us another short intermission. It’s also important to get rid of all the pungent seafood flavours off before eating another protein.
The next protein is the scallop. Caramelised scallop with truffle sandwich, afruga caviar, lima gel, on asparagus puree and truffle jeux sauce. This one is so lavish and extravagant – on compositions, ingredients, as well as how it tastes. I don’t think I have ever tasted scallop that good before. We aren’t given room to breathe afterwards as the lamb comes with gnocchi, tomato fondue, nori crumble, braised onion, and rosemary jeux. Another sensational scene that makes it hard to choose our favourite.
A great play is nothing without an equally sterling and exuberant climax. Ours is a combo of chocolate and coffee: Valrhona texture, coffee spaghetti, and a scoop of mascarpone and cappuccino ice cream – decadent, posh, and a happy ending to our first ten courses.
As predicted, our expectations are answered with greatness. The dishes served are great beyond our wildest dreams, and as always, the actors of the kitchen – chefs – present a flawless ensemble. Chef Maxie joins us after the dessert to have a chat and enjoy the three migniardies and a glass of wine. His colourful character and his backstage stories make the kitchen stage spotlight shine even brighter. Maxie definitely brings in new finesse, boldness and fury into this culinary theatre. Diners can expect magnificent fire that he composes into his opera. We can’t handle an encore after the 13 acts, but we definitely won’t wait another three years for another viewing. Bravo!
Top Ten Tips from Chef Maxie
1. Learn the basic things of cooking!
2. Know your ingredients!
3. Move deliberately and with efficiency.
4. Be clean and organised.
5. Respect your brigade!
6. Ask for clarification.
7. Seasoning is key. Taste, taste, and taste.
8. Always use a good quality knife and make sure to keep it sharp.
9. Do not be afraid to break the boundaries, make something new, and explore new flavours.
10. Have fun in the kitchen, you choose to be a chef so fill your heart full of fun.
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