I’ve had my eye on LuMi since I started reading reviews about it (it opened in 2014). In particular, a filled pasta dish with liquid gruyere or parmesan was mentioned, which had caught everyone’s taste buds. So, I was disappointed, looking through the current menu not to find it on the menu. Ah well.
We started the evening with some very pleasant cocktails, and the space is really lovely, situated out on the wharf beyond Star City. It’s nice enough during daylight but as it becomes dark, with the lights of the city surrounding you, and the clever suspended lights above you, it has a very cozy atmosphere – and also fairly intimate. The restaurant doesn’t pack in too many diners, but rather than feeling exclusive and stuffy, it feels casual yet elegant.
It’s a requirement to have the eight-course degustation, though you can specify dietary issues (one of our table opted for vegetarian, to avoid the fish) and there were various add-ons; James and I split six oysters (delicious!). Ah, and most of us did matching wines, an excellent selection of mostly Italian wines, but with a side trip to Germany and Japan. They were generous pours.
There was also a generous serving of snacks, various tasty and delicious bites, including a sort of frozen parmesan mouthful, which served notice of one of the themes of the restaurant: the chef likes cool and cold things, possibly with a granita or frozen item. Interesting. I don’t know if I’ve come across that before. After the snacks was a lovely bit of bonito tuna, and then suddenly the evening got even better.
The oxheart tomato tartare was memorable and beautiful, quite like a steak tartare in fact, there was some technique of drying the tomato just enough to give it a great bite, and then chopped finely and served on crème fraiche with sancho pepper. Another notice served: interesting food ahead.
Then: my wishes were granted. Agnolotti with porcini mushroom and rye dashi turned out to be either the dish I’d heard of or a modern incarnation. Like a Western version of the Shanghai soup dumpling, the moment you break open the pasta wrapping, a rich, warm liquid fills your mouth. It was both rich and delicate, unusual and wonderfully delicious. We were all blown away.
The taglioline with scorpion fish and capsicum was a nice little dish as well, where you could taste the bite of the fresh pasta, and the combo of flavours and textures were lovely.
The wagyu was also a huge standout. A modest strip of the most perfectly cured and cooked steak (apparently three days cured in a pastrami style, I think). Some grilled or BBQed tiny peppers alongside. Incredible. Mark liked his vegetarian course, beetroot, which had a mysterious gelatinous covering.
For dessert, a tasty mousse or cream inside a frozen Granny Smith Apple (photo at the top of the page); it somehow represented to me the meal in general: pretty yet simple presentation, unfussy, with some mystery (what would be revealed by lifting off the top of the apple?) and then: delight.
The Douglas Fir ice cream, with raspberry and extra virgin olive oil, was served with a Japanese peach liqueur; I think it was umeshu rather than a fruit-flavoured sake.
The finish: compressed watermelon steeped in yuzu, so more of a lemon and citrus flavour than watermelon. Apparently, you can compress watermelon in a vacuum sealer; it concentrates the flavour while changing the texture. I found it amusing myself, though it wasn’t a favourite of the table.
I’ve been trying to be generous lately for some of our fancier meals, but in comparison to recent restaurants, LuMi takes the prize, and the price wasn’t much more expensive ($115 for the degustation, $80 for the matching wines). Mark said it was one of the best restaurants he’s been to lately. I’d agree (sadly admitting that it was better than any of the fine dining experiences I’d researched and booked in Buenos Aires over our Christmas holidays). With not one but a few memorable dishes, great techniques and wonderful flavours (and great service, particularly the sommelier), I was impressed and happy.
(As has happened before, I intended to only take a few photos, so as not to interrupt the lovely meal we were having, but then I got so excited about the food, I started taking photos of very course… So missing photos from the snacks and first course (and vegetarian options)… Oops)