Visually stunning with bold flavors that make for an exciting dining experience – this is what Spice by JG, a pop-up dining experience at The Ocean Club, A Four Seasons Resort is.
At Spice by JG, Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten is serving cuisine showcasing simple Southeast Asian foods, but through his mastery of flavor infusion, he has elevated them in the dishes that are simple, yet complex and stunning to behold and taste.
Think charred chili-rubbed beef skewer with Thai basil dipping sauce; black pepper shrimp with sun-dried pineapple; roasted grouper with Malaysian chili sauce and Thai basil; ginger fried rice with a sunny-side-up egg. The master of Asian infusion marries everything well.
Are your taste bud synapses firing off as yet?
It’s very rare that I’m left floundering after a meal. And I’ve had some stellar meals, but at the same time, there have been some that I wouldn’t give a second thought to, but Spice by JG almost went beyond the realm of stellar.
Chef Jean-Georges’ reinvention of Southeast Asian street foods presented at the resort’s Versailles Terrace is a mouthwatering journey on the palate. The five classic Asian tastes – salty, spicy, sour, sweet and bitter – are presented through modern interpretation in a bold and exciting way.
The composed dishes are simple yet complex, all the while ensuring balance.
Over the past few days, I’ve found myself stopping several times and just sitting back and ruminating about that meal and wondering whether it was as amazing as I thought it was as I dined. And every time I stopped to think about it, I came back to the same delicious conclusion – utterly fantastic.
More than just a meal, it was a delightful assault on the senses, one that I would happily indulge in again and again and again.
Spice by JG’s menu isn’t expansive by any stretch of the imagination. It features a mere 14 items – five appetizers, five entrees, two sides and two desserts.
Multiple small plates are meant to be shared – but I warn you, it’s going to be tough to do after your first bite. You’re going to want your meal all to yourself, so, take my advice and have everyone in your party order their own meal.
On a recent tasting, my order practically ran the gamut of the appetizers except one – the charred chili-rubbed beef skewer with Thai basil dipping sauce, owing to the Lenten season (and which I’m looking forward to indulging in after the season and before the pop-up closes shop) – but the shaved tuna with chili tapioca and tropical fruits in a coconut-lime broth; mango salad with crystallized tamarind and chili lime vinaigrette; crunchy squid salad with ginger, papaya and cashews; and black pepper shrimp with sun-dried pineapple were fair game.
It’s hard to say which was my favorite, because each dish satisfied something in me.
The black pepper shrimp’s surprising spice was balanced by the sweetness from the dried pineapple; it was a perfect bite.
The sweetness the tropical fruits added to the shaved tuna dish was a good counterbalance, and I found the mango salad with crystallized tamarind with chili tapioca in the coconut-lime broth really refreshing, even though it’s a meal starter. The crunchy squid salad was just what it said, with a hint of spice in the salad’s dressing.
From the entrees it was tough deciding, but the wait staff assured me that the roasted grouper (which replaced the usual cod to localize the dish) with Malaysian chili sauce and Thai basil was a must-do. I paired it with the ginger fried rice with a sunny-side-up egg, and the sugar snap peas with shiitake mushrooms and water chestnuts.
The complex Malaysian chili sauce on which the perfectly cooked, sweet, delicate roasted grouper sat was a flavorful treat. I sat there trying to figure out all the different flavors and nuances I was getting, but in the final analysis, I decided to just sit back and enjoy the indulgence. It was simply amazing.
I paired this with the grouper with ginger fried rice that was simple yet sophisticated and which was simply ginger, crisped garlic, softened leeks, rice and an egg – the yolk of which, when pierced, added to the unctuousness of the dish for a flavor that was nuanced and aromatic.
My name was written all over the warm rice pudding with passion fruit sherbet for dessert. There’s just something so homey about rice pudding, yet it went upscale with a lightly bruleed topping, sprinkled with tangy passion fruit pulp and a cool, refreshing sherbet. It was the perfect ending with a cup of cappuccino.
Suffice it to say, Spice by JG is a must-do, and I must own up to the fact that I am a Chef Jean-Georges fan, having eaten his food for many years. He never fails to disappoint as he marries flavors so well. So, this pop-up is a real treat and something special.
Spice by JG is Jean-Georges’ first free-form version of a menu that appeared similarly at his former Spice Market in New York City. It is by no means the chef’s first foray with The Ocean Club. The resort’s main restaurant Dune also assumes his moniker.
In presenting Spice by JG, which has only been open for two weeks, Chef Jean-Georges said he was excited for the pop up at The Ocean Club by Four Seasons.
“I invite you to try it all – the menu has been carefully curated to provide you with a unique taste of my favorite dishes and flavors from Southeast Asia,” said Vongerichten in a press release.
Ocean Club Executive Chef Curtis Smithen said everything on the menu is inviting and has been adapted where necessary to include Bahamian ingredients such as the steamed lobster with garlic, ginger and dried chili, or the grouper with Malaysian chili sauce and Thai basil.
The pop-up restaurant takes advantage of the open-air styled atmosphere while overlooking the resort’s legendary terraced gardens and statues.
Open to resort guests and the general public, Spice by JG will only be available for a limited time this spring, through April 21 for lunch (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and dinner (6 p.m. to 9 p.m.) with scheduled closures during that period for seven days – April 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 15 and 16.
Spice by JG should not be missed; ensure you make your reservations so you don’t miss out on this experience. It’s not often I make stamps of approval, but in this instance, you won’t regret it. And if by any chance you’re undecided about something, the staff can guide you through; on my visit Dymphna Brown and Mannix were both knowledgeable and helpful. Reservations are suggested.
Shavaughn was appointed as the Lifestyles Editor a few years later.