Eating the seasons is the cornerstone of French savoir-vivre and at Odette, a champion of artisan ingredients, French chef-patron Julien Royer and his sous chefs, Levin Lau and Adam Wan, pay particular attention to giving diners a taste of in-season produce, be it black truffles from Manjimup, Australia, from June to September, or German white asparagus from April to June, or the prized “Taiyo no Tamago” mangoes from Miyazaki Perfecture, Japan, for a sweet taste of Japanese spring-summer time.
As we speak, Odette’s menu is segueing from spring into summer and the German white asparagus still reigns supreme. Royer serves a half stalk of the plump Spargel crowned with Oscietra caviar alongside tongues of Bafun uni, potato crisps and discs of crotons in a creamy potato leek broth decorated with purple chive flowers. To lighten the impact of the creamy broth, Royer melds it with dashi and while its scent is faint, it does its job of elevating the umami of the broth without so much as cloying the palate.
Poivrade artichoke, at its prime in spring to summer, is matched with succulent lobes of Irish lobster and served at the table with cupidon tomatoes (semi-confit tomatoes with preserved lemon, thyme, bay leaf, garlic, sugar, salt and extra virgin olive oil) in a hearty brew of bouillabase. While the small purple artichoke of Provence plays a mere supporting role, its mildly sweet and earthy flavour is perfectly counterpointed against the richness of the stewed fish broth with a hint of acidity from the tomatoes. It’s comfort food with a dose of refinement.
And then there is Royer’s new addition to the menu. Bijou blocks of melt-in-the-mouth foie gras crowned with a slice of baby Hokkaido abalone and a morsel of smoked eel balancing atop, the wobbly towers arriving in a shallow bath of ethereal smoked eel dashi. The combination, brought together with a whisper of refreshment from the yuzu, is intoxicating.
A meal by Royer is never complete without his signature poultry dish and the savoury 10-day aged Bresse duck breast paired with sweet beetroot puree and pickled cherries does not disappoint. But what makes this a standout is the accompanying cup of duck liver parfait and the side of confit of duck leg with girolle mushrooms.
If you’re lucky, the meal may conclude with a spring-summer treat of prized Miyazaki mangoes that recently fetched US$3,675 a pair. A thick slice of the mango is confidently matched with a scoop of coconut ice cream and a tiny mango tart with a base of banana cream topped with kaffir lime-dusted mango pearls. Odette’s new pastry chef, Lijing Yang Vijay exercises restraint in her use of sugar in this dessert, masterfully elevating the natural aroma and sweetness of the mango to its full potential.
If kaiseki dining has a modern French sibling, we reckon Odette would be it.