May 21, 2012

Let's Pachanga!

Definition-Pachanga: Urban Spanish slang to "party hard" 

I had heard mixed reviews regarding Hilton JBR's Argentinian restaurant, Pachanga, which deterred me from venturing down to the very popular hotel destination to check it out.  However on this particular occasion, I was informed about the new chef, Matias Ayala, Chef de Cuisine, who has done his due diligence and recreated a "real South American" menu which expresses the true tastes of the culture.

Matias has ten years of cooking experience in hotels around the world including South America, New Zealand and the UAE. Originally from Argentina, Matias has practiced his cooking talents on diverse types of world cuisines. 

To begin we were presented with a trio of dipping sauces including sweet chilli mayo, guacamole, and tomato butter all served with this crusty house made olive bread.
The first course was a light but flavorful Ecuadorean Tiger Prawn with sauteed zucchini and caramelized onions salad.  The well balanced taste of this dish still lingers in my mind and really made an impression on me with high hopes for the potential of this budding Argentinian chef.
Duck Terrine with Tomato Salad and light citrus aioli was our second course.  The duck was rendered with dates to enhance the rich sweet texture of the tender duck meat.  It was heavy on the palette,  not my particular favorite, but well executed.  The flavors were rich and developed and the terrine was presented beautifully in a perfect little cylindrical shape.  The fresh tomato salad was necessary to cut some of the richness of this complex dish.
I would have to say this King Crab Salad with Mango and Habanero chillies was hands down my favorite.  Light in texture but heavy on flavor, this dish contained all of my favorite ingredients.  The presentation was also playful in this tiny glass bowl, with a decorative bread stick, which then became a practical tool when we need to push the marinated and well seasoned crab meat out of it's shell.  It sounds more difficult than it was, but the process added to the experience of enjoying this delightful salad. 
Main course was a Braised Beef Short Rib with fluffy potato puree and sauteed sweet breads.  The short ribs were tender and fell apart at the touch of my fork, equally as delicate but with a zingy tomato sauce were the sauteed sweet breads, which I wasn't particularly find of before, but now have grown to really enjoy.  They were reminiscent of a dish I used to eat growing up, with simple flavors of tomato, onion, and chillies. It really didn't need any more than that, because the natural flavors of the sweet breads were able to shine through.  Last but not least the fluffy potato puree, which were mashed through a potato ricer 3 times to obtain that perfect texture. 
 Gorgeous medley of desserts including a rich chocolate cake topped with Dulce De Leche, berries with a spiced crumble, Quince Jam, and vanilla ice cream.  Once I took a bite of this decadent treat, there was nothing holding me back from licking this plate clean.  The texture of the crumble mixed into the gooey Dulce De Leche, finished with the velvety chocolate cake, Heaven on a plate!
Chef Matias has really captured the best of South American Cuisine and has created a special menu that tantalizes and excites the appetite for more to come.  Pachanga can now back up the meaning of it's name, and host a party for the palette from the culinary perspective with it's interesting combination of flavors and well cooked meat.  Other South American restaurant concepts in Dubai now have some serious competition! 

For more information on Pachanga please check out the Hilton JBR web-site:

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