Andō: Solid, but lacks wow factor (8.3)

Head Chef Agustin Balbi was born in Argentina, but spent time exploring culinary techniques in Japan. One could easily tell the latter’s influence by his focus on attentively adorned small plates, substantial use of raw fish and seafood delicacies as well as the combination of common South American and Japanese ingredients. The Argentinian character, however, was downplayed, at least with the dishes presented on our visit. Perhaps there was more of a mediterranean touch.

The food is certainly high-end and fresh, and the interior décor of the restaurant minimalistic yet impressively sleek. You won’t go wrong booking the place for a meal with your business partner or date, but if you are quite the mindful type about dining and restaurants, and had high expectations before entering the restaurant–which I imagine you would, then reality may pale just somewhat in comparison to the hype and sumptuous façade of the place. Again, like I said, the food was solid, and there was nothing to complain about, but other than one standout dish the remainder really failed to impress us in any meaningful way.

And while Chef Agustin was superb hospitality from the floor was a mixed bag, so all in all a place that we were fine about visiting, but would not be looking to actively return.

A trio of sashimi, jamon and a savory soup-drink to start.

Amaebi, leche de tigre, razor clams, coriander
More artistic than impressive, I would say. The amaebi is certainly fresh, and the sour-savory leche de tigre an appetite kick, but somehow I felt a bit underwhelmed, because the experience didn’t seem to stand out from most other Peruvian ceviches I’ve had.

Aji amarillo, Hokkaido snow crab, ginger, lemon
Similarly, this was somewhat underwhelming. I felt the condiments overpowered the sweet delicacy of the shredded snow crab. Perhaps if the crab meat was not shredded so thin, this would have worked better.

Hand-dived sea scallop, carrot, miso, black olive
Solid. One of the better dishes.

Quail, humita, parsnip puree, baby cabbage
Hearty, savory, and aromatic. Flavor and balance for this dish were pretty spot-on.

Selection of bread from Bakehouse with El mil del Poaig olive oil
El mil del Poaig olive oil is one of the world’s most rarefied olive oils with olives that are handpicked from trees over a thousand years old on the Eastern coast of Spain. The flavor is fruity and aromatic. The whole ritual and awareness of what we’re savoring certainly elevates the experience, but in my own humble opinion its flavor was only marginally distinguishable from other solid olive oils, at least for someone who isn’t an expert taster. I would add, however, that the sourdough from Bakehouse is literally unbeatable. The brioche was naturally also a welcome intrusion to the meal, if you can hold yourself back from finishing all of it before the rice comes.

Caldoso rice, blue lobster, chistorra
This was an absolute delight. The balance of flavors, aroma and textures was perfection to me. If anything, this left the strongest impression as to the overall experience at Andō.

Japanese flan, hibiki whisky, sea salt ice cream
Not big on desserts but the flan was definitely also one of the highlights. It’s not burnt, the flavor is super rich and the texture is silky smooth. The pairing with ice cream also worked wonderfully.

Panna cotta in jello, caramelized pomelo
Beautiful presentation. Panna cotta with jelly was an interesting contrast of bouncy and silky, fruity and milky, and the caramelized fruit was delicious.

1F, Somptueux Central, 52 Wellington St, Central
$$$$, Fusion