The first thing I thought was where is this place as I was dropped off by my Uber. The driver said and I quote, “The restaurant is somewhere around here” which is not exactly the greatest way to drop off a passenger I do not think. In any case, it turned out that they were tucked in a little corner. Walking in, I got vibes of an open kitchen shawarma canteen and you all know how much I love a good show while eating. Now let us get to the good part… the food!
I opted for the tasting menu but I was allowed to select what I wanted. I also had some recommendations from the delightful waitress. We settled on the corn bomb, croquettes and umami eclair for the starters. The tuna salsa roja for my cold item then on to chicken wings, kebab and gyoza. They had flatbreads as well but I figured that I would pace myself and see how I was feeling at the end of these dishes.
My amuse bouche of sorts were olives on these very cute small plates with a pattern of blue crosses all over. I am not the biggest fan of olives but I decided to have one anyway. At the same time my non-alcoholic cocktail came out. It was called a sunshine sour and had nonalcoholic bourbon. It was pretty good actually with a tingling burn sensation that you would get from actual bourbon.
The first thing that came out was the croquettes. They are inspired by Portuguese cuisine but instead of meat, these are vegetarian with celeriac root and cheese. It was placed on a cream emulsion with Alba truffle as well. It was oh so gooey and decadent and yet still incredibly balanced. There was not one ingredient that outshined the other… just a magical symphony of flavors on the palate. Lovely. Sorry I forgot to take a photo.
Next up was the corn bomb. It is called a bomb because it is messy. It is three different preparations of corn with a generous helping of parmeggiano grated on top. I believe they are a corn tortilla, creamy blended corn and then a roasted piece of corn for texture. Since I am a professional eater, I barely made a mess. This dish is another fantastic win for dining. There was ever present rustic and roasted flavors and then almost a big bang, earth shattering palate awakening brought on by the cheese. I feel like these would be an amazing starter at a dinner party during cocktail hour. Delightful.
Next was the umami eclair. When I saw this, I thought, “This is far too pretty to eat”. The history here is that the brothers are pastry chefs but decided to not make a sweet eclair but instead a savory one. I think my waitress said the inner filling was mushroom but it tasted like eggplant to me. On top were cocoa nibs and prosciutto and the ever fighting dance that the two were playing was absolutely tantalizing on the palate.
I thought it was interesting that they kept on taking my mini napkin away when I placed it on the table. I wonder if there is any significance to that. Anyway, on to my cold course, the tuna. My waitress highly recommended it, saying that it was her favorite dish on the entire menu so looking forward to it. Checking back in on that mocktail by the way, it is really quite satisfying.
So the tuna actually comes out in a beautiful presentation but I was too eager listening to what it was that I forgot to take a picture before she mixed it up. It is so fragrant with the fermented tomato taking the lead followed by the olive powder. There are chilis in here which made me hesitant to take a bite but it is not hot spicy but more of that tingle burn spicy. Eating instructions were to load on a piece of toast and enjoy and that made a world of difference. Almost a differential energy if I may. This is absolutely outstanding. I feel that for people who are hesitant of raw fish, this would be a great introduction to that.
Next up, the chicken wing! It is a deboned chicken wing, stuffed with sticky rice with adobo sauce on top. It thought the sauce looked really thick, messy and sticky since I would have to eat with my finger but a wet towel was provided for when I was done so… digging in! This dish kind of messes with your mind a little bit as you are biting in expecting to get that fleshly fatty favor that is normal for a chicken wing but instead you have full flavor of a mildly sweet sticky rice with a light wrapping of chicken wing. The adobo sauce is probably the best I have ever had. It was flavorful and lightly sweet with the long lasting but not overwhelming spice at the end. A must order.
Chef / owner introduced the gyoza. The dish came to his restaurant from China by way of Russia and the preparation of steamed and baked at the same time is a funny story. The story is that his mom and his aunt were having a fight one preferring baked dumplings and the other steamed so trying to find a way to please everyone both preparations were incorporated into the dish. It is a Wagyu beef dumpling with garlic yogurt and chorizo made in-house. The chorizo takes three months to make so definitely something special. There is more flavor of the chorizo but that is because chorizo is generally a dominating flavor of sausage. However the wagyu is not lost in here. That mind blowing delicate mess of flavor is not hiding anywhere and you do not have to search hard to taste its presence. I loved the garlic yogurt as it brought everything together… basically it was the priest marrying the chorizo and wagyu.
As I was waiting for my last dish, a skewer, I reflected on the fact that when I looked at the menu and saw there was no alcohol my mind said, “this is going to be a long two hours”. Now thirty minutes to the end of my time here, I did not miss it one bit. Honestly, I feel alcohol would have taken away from the balance of flavors achieved here.
For the final kebab, it comes from Syria. There exists, a traditional dish of beef with sour cherry. Now this restaurant has a different rendition where it takes that dish and modernizes it a little bit with pine nuts, cinnamon and a dusting of something that I’m not sure of. I appreciate that the ground Wagyu is crunchy on the outside while still moist on the inside. The sour cherry is present but the win for this dish is definitely the cinnamon. You really cannot go wrong with cinnamon which is why I call it the cheating spice. Nonetheless an amazing way to end my meal.
So that was my dining experience at Orfali brothers. I do believe that they are worth a visit so do book your flights friends.
Nos vemos pronto (Studying my Spanish… How did I do?)