Tuesday, June 23, 2015

StreetXO - 05/23/2015

Calle Serrano, 52
28001 Madrid Spain
+34 915 31 98 84

In the States, the term Asian Fusion is something of a dirty word in most culinary circles, conjuring images of the bad old days in the '80s and '90s. But in Spain, wunderkind Chef David Muñoz has raised fusion to an art form. His fine dining restaurant DiverXO recently got its third Michelin Star and to my surprise, is the only 3-star restaurant in Madrid. Unable to score a seat to the temple of Latin-Asian fusion, we contented ourselves with a visit to StreetXO his more casual joint situated at the top floor of El Corte Inglés, high-end department store.

Raquelita - Vodka, Crema de Coco, Maracuyá, Limoncillo
StreetXO offers a very impressive array of contemporary cocktails to accompany their food. Unable to pick from the many tantalizing choices, we finally asked our server to surprise us. The Raquelita turned out to be an Asian riff on a White Russian with lemongrass, coconut cream, and passion fruit in place of coffee. The creamy sweet cocktail even came with a chaser of tangy passion fruit meringue.

Laksa Singapore con Carabineros a la Llama de Robata - Crema de Coco, Shitake y Pasta de Huevo
My girlfriend developed quite a fondness for Laksa from her ex-pat days so this was definitely a must order. We were presented with two prawns that were quickly bathed in a golden bisque-esque that oozed char, acidity and spice. The prawns were equally impressive, prized deep sea Carabineros, their flesh was translucent and silky while the head was filled with decadent offal-tinged saline.

Codorniz Royal "Kentucky Style" y Frita en Tempura - Condimento de Sésamo y Pimienta Szechuan, Ponzu Cítrica
Next up was a deep-fried quail served with a ponzu spiked with Szechuan peppercorns. On its own the bird is quite the treat, firm and moist quail covered in a thin crispy shell. The sauce adds a piquant numbness and slight pungency that I enjoyed though only in small doses.

Pulpo Charsiu (Barbacoa China) con Pasta de Gamba Fermentada y Chiles Dulces - Padthai Cremoso de Tintas, Ginger y Polvo de Gamba Seca
Octopus char siu? Yes, please! The pulpo was paired with a touch of hoisin and sweet chili. The combination had familiar char siu elements that played very well with the inherent smokiness of the octopus. The accompanying squid ink noodles were appropriately dense and seasoned with shrimp paste. The funky umami heft of the noodles was deftly balanced by the sprigs of fresh dill.

"Chili Crab" - Pimentón, Chipotles, Palo Cortado, Mantou
Next up was a pretty faithful rendition of the popular Singaporean Chili Crab. The crab itself plays second fiddle to the thick chili sauce. This version paired cayenne and chipotle for a smokier heat with a touch of palo cortado sherry. As enjoyable as the crab was, the best part of the dish was the mantou beautifully golden on the outside with an light airy center this was undoubtedly the best mantou I've ever eaten far outstripping the traditional bland steamed buns.

Navajas al Humo de Aceite de Oliva y Carbón - Ponzu de Shiso y Crema de Coco
Razor clams are a relatively rare treat back home but surprisingly plentiful in Spain. Sadly this smoked preparation a bit lacking in both snap and flavor; errors that were further compounded by the coconut cream which was heavy handed both in sweetness and the thick creamy texture.

Sepitas el Miso-Carbón - Jugo de Kimchi Coreano y Huevo Frito, Mini Sardinas Japonesas Extracruijentes
The cuttlefish itself is perfectly cooked but serves as little more than a textural element. The flavor came from the fried egg and the even more deep-fried sardines, with a kimchi sauce the whole affair in a pungently spicy bow.

Costilla de Raya y Hojas de Banana + Sambal Indonesio de Pasta de Crustaceos - Spicy-Salmorejo-Cremoso-Picante, Pan de Gambas
At this point we were bursting full, but seeing the table next to us tuck into the skate we couldn't help ourselves. Despite the gluttonous excess, this proved to be a great choice. The skate displayed a multifaceted texture flaky meaty strands wrapped in a glutinous succulence. The banana leaf imparted a heady savory char to the meat while the sauce added a healthy kick to the mix.

I have to say, I had my doubts about StreetXO. The "fusion" stigma, the urban-hipster vibe, and its location in a mall had me worried, but the bold, lusty flavors effectively married the best from Asian and Latin cuisine with a healthy dose of funky iconoclasm thrown in. Add to that the impeccable cooking techniques and I found myself agonizing over just how good the three-star version must be. After gorging ourselves at StreetXO, a visit to DiverXO is an absolute must for me and my girlfriend next time we are in the neighborhood.

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