DiverXO

DiverXo is quite unique to Spain’s upscale gastronomy. The reason for this is of the Spanish-Asian (but more Chinese) fusion cuisine that it boasts. Spanish and Chinese cuisine? Something rather similar to what I want to do, but someone else beat me to it. The small kitchen is led by David Muñoz, whose background ranges from stints at local Chinese restaurants, to London’s upscale Nobu and Hakkasan. Barely 30, this young chef has the ability to mix and transform chinese traditions and techniques without moving away from his Spanish roots such as morcilla (blood sausage), and cochinillo (suckling pig).

Located in an uninspiring and quiet neighborhood, you will find (but easily miss) this dark restaurant. Passerbys can only make out movements inside due to the window’s tint. Personally, the restaurant decor was not my style, boasting a wide variety of antique and modern collections, an awkward stetted living room that came out of a 60s film and behind its translucent windows, a black and white dining room.

 The restaurant serves only a choice of 3 sampler menus, one of which is the 11-dish proposal for 120 euros. The restaurant has a strict policy of no photos, but I was able to sneak in a couple with my phone, with which I also wrote the menu down. I guess they couldn’t tell which I was doing. The chef’s wife, who is the Maitre D’, leads the dining room. She is quiet but attentive, and seeks to provide the utmost Asian-esque experience, even the clothes resemble the ancient clothes of servants in Imperial China.

The table was already set with chopsticks, ones that you would find in any typical Chinese restaurant, in silver (and heavy), with which normally you serve food to others, but hear, they are your own.

A weird spiral contraption awaited us, with various cards, each holding a unique word that would encompass our experience. Not really to my liking.

First to arrive thereafter, edamame liberally sprinkled with sea salt and black sesame seeds.

It is  served in a white ceramic container and is accompanied by garlic and oil emulsion flavored with Peruvian chile. The heat is subtle and manifests itself at the back of the throat.When I first saw this, I gasped. Not because I thought it was an ingenious idea but because I make a chili mayonnaise sauce to which I accompany almost everything I eat at home, and it had the exact flavor with the exact amount of chili. I could have done that! On another note, I love edamame and have eaten them before so it wasn’t all too great for me.

There is no wine pairing on the menu, but the edamame is followed by a pot of Chinese green tea with lime, raspberry, calendula and other herbal flowers that will remain poured for the rest of the meal. It was fruit and bitter, and a good ongoing palette cleanser.
The first dish is Oxtail soup with heart of tomato and baby fish, accompanied by a fried eel skin. I loved the sharpness of the tomato heart that went with the sweetness of oxtail soup. The baby fish were baby eels and acted like noodles. Good touch.
The fried eel skin was something familiar to me; in Hong Kong, you buy by the bag, deep fried fish skin and though in Western Europe it is something ‘new’, again I wasn’t very surprised.
The soup was quickly followed by a sandwich of oxtail (again) and eel. I guess you could say it was Oxtail and eel in 2 services. It was crispy, thin and a good follow up to the soup.
Onto the fish…Rock mussels in Kafir lime vinaigrette, flying fish eggs DiverXo style. Underneath breadcrumbs. Interesting parfait.
Kokotxa (fish throat) of Szechuan, Duck tongue and Avocado..What a mixture, random, perhaps even a bit threatening but here you can see the blend of traditional Spanish and traditional Asian tying to go together. Not a bad try.
Braised tuna belly with crispy dim sum of eggs, Kimchi sauce and Black Garlic paste. I wished the tuna belly was marinated and served raw, as it was too chewy, I loved the crispy pocket of eggs, but I wouldn’t call it a ‘dim sum’.
Dimsum of wild chicken and shitake mushrooms with chicken broth and prawn powder. A dim sum? I think the word was used too much. Unmemorable dish.
Trompette de la mort mini-siubao with milk skin, tomatoes and ‘hanging’ Cecina ham impaled on a flagpole.  It’s meant to be eaten together, but for me al too ‘all over the place’. They do provide contrast between the sweet bun and the richness of the mushroom inside. providing a salty counterpoint to the  slightly sweet bun and the savory richness of the mushroom.
Suckling pig Beijing-style, Brioche of Black sesame, Cucumber and Flying fish eggs, accompanied by a cherry sauce (instead of traditional plum sauce). A thin rectangle of Iberico pork (yum) skin sandwich on a metal scaffolding topped with hoisin sauce, fish eggs and cucumbers. A deconstructed peking duck, if you will.  Crunchy, juicy, liquid as well – great textures.
Monkfish cooked in wok, white asparagus, purple potatoes, black sesame powder, Chinese BBQ sauce. The monkfish has a chewiness similar to meat, and was suppose to be confused with cha-siew (chinese BBQ pork). The chef found a way not to overcook the fish by glazing them and kept it moist. My favorite dish on the menu.
Slow cooked cow rib, pork rib juice, tamarind, white shimeji and bok choy vegetables. The meat melted in your mouth and was greatly accompanied by the crispy lotus chip. However the colors were similar to the previous dish.
Dessert…if you can follow
Galanga, coconut milk meringue, blood orange sorbet and Nori. Never saw nori in dessert, so a good attempt and the ultra-sweetness of the coconut milk was soothed by the blood orange.
White Chocolate, Green Apple, celery and Blackberry. Adored the white chocolate as it was crunchy and the green apple and celery foam quickly dissolved in your mouth.
Next, a transparent glass held a parfait topped with breadcrumbs followed by layers of béchamel, minced chives, tiger mussels brined in kefir lime, flying fish roe in soy. The flavors get sharper and more intense as you dig deeper.
Ok, so my comments are both good and bad. Maybe I’m giving him a  hard time because a lot of the dishes, ingredients even he served was something familiar to me, and a lot of the ideas we share and I just wish I got to showcase them as well. On the other hand, I know I would have explored the ingredients and portrayed them much sharper. I understand he got a Michelin star for his innovativeness, but my experience was not worth 2-stars. I guess I’m missing that ‘hmpf’ and I may be too familiar with the region’s food. I even commented that I was from Hong Kong and was curious to know how long they spent there; but the answer I wanted to hear was never heard, as they had only gone 4-5 times to Asia. 4-5times? and I have lived there all my life? I guess I’m a bit jealous.

It is unique, nevertheless, something you should try if you’re tired of tapas and general Spanish food. He paves the way for new ideas in the field of fusion cuisine. I’ll give him that. It is definitely hard to get a reservation at this joint, especially on the weekends, with the recent allocation of a 2nd Michelin star. Reservations can be made up to 30 days in advance or get a lucky last-minute cancellation.

DiverXO

Address: Pensamiento 28, 28020 Madrid

Metro: Cuzco (Linea 10), Tetuan (Linea 1)

Telephone: +34 91 570 0766

Website: http://www.diverxo.com

Closed: Sunday, Monday

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