Last week, Mr Rainbow and I were invited to Monster Mash, a pop-up dinner with US celebrity chef Matthew Kenney and the Monster Team of Canberra's Ovolo Nishi Hotel. I was SO excited to hear that Matthew Kenney was visiting Canberra! Earlier this year, we dined at Alibi Bar in Sydney and it was one of the best dining experiences I had in a long time. The dinner at Ovolo Nishi fell nothing short of expectations. Our senses were blown away by each of the 8 courses.
The first two courses were Kimchi Dumplings and Mushroom dumplings with a szechuan vinaigrette. Oh my wow! We had the Kimchi Dumplings at Alibi Bar which Mr Rainbow loved but I thought it was a lot better this time around. The dumpling 'pastry' held together this time which made it actually feel like dumplings when I ate them. Does that make sense?! Nevertheless, the Mushroom dumplings were so incredibly moreish and I wish I had a huge plate of them to myself. The pastry was perfectly thin and chewy and the filling just bursted with juiciness.
Second up were the Smoked Hummous with lavosh and Heirloom carrots, almonds and harissa. This was probably the fanciest hummous I've ever eaten! I loved how it was delicately garnished with herbs and edible flowers. I didn't expect much of the carrot dish but I assure you that the flavours were amazing! The carrots were caramelised and that little blob of hummous on the side BLEW ME AWAY! It was ridiculously smooth and had an earthy undertone to it. I was pondering for around 20 minutes about how they prepared and cooked it.
Next we were served the Kelp Noodle Cacio E Pepe and Broccoli, Black Barley with Goma Fressing. Oh seriously, you won me over with these dishes! I've prepared kelp noodles before and, trust me, it's no easy feat. They managed to bring a whole new meaning to 'raw noodles' by marinating it with some olive-based sauce, freeze-dried olives and tons of flavour. Similar to the carrot dish, I didn't expect much from the broccoli, but it was actually my favourite meal from the evening! The broccoli was chargrilled, sweet, salty and full of umami. Maybe kids would love broccoli if they were fed this?! I wish I saved more room in my stomach for this dish.
Last but not least, dessert was the Hibiscus Strawberry Cheesecake and Pumpkin-caradmom Mousse, Coconut-pandan Sorbet with Yuzu Gel. I tried the cheesecake before and it didn't do much for me again. Maybe it was because I was making cheesecakes ALL week for work. Or maybe it was because the sorbet dish was so dang delicious. The sorbet melted in my mouth and that pumpkin mousse was to die for. I loved the crumbly bits of biscuit as it provided a nice crunch to the dish. The delicate flavour of coconut and pandan really complemented the pumpkin!
For the dinner, everyone sat on shared tables of 8+ more people. Mr Rainbow was quite cautious about this as he's more introverted than me and is picky about who he hangs around. However, I quickly warmed up to others and I'm so grateful for the genuine conversations that I had made! Overall we loved the food and the whole collaborative dinner.
Monster Mash with Matthew Kenney, 5th October 2018
Monster Kitchen and Bar
Ovolo Nishi Hotel
25 Edinburgh Ave
Canberra ACT 2601