Ter’ra Pop-up by Chef Top Russell & Chef Michelle Goh
Something new with the fine dining scene in Bangkok is happening over the next 4 months by Chef Top Russell and Chef Michelle Goh. Chef Top was previously the Head Chef of Freebird while Chef Michelle was previously the pastry chef two Michelin-starred restaurant Sühring. Their Ter’ra pop-up is what they call “a self-discovery” for both of them. Ultimately, they want to cook great food called “modern territorial” cuisine, using 100% local Thai ingredients using modern techniques with their vast experiences from their overseas stint. Each month will see a completely new menu promising zero repetition.
Ter’ra pop-ups are at House of Sub-Zero and Wolf in Thonglor Soi 20. The prices for each pop-up range from 2850-3250 THB depending on the ingredients being used.
We were at their first pop-up and here’s what we had. For this post, we are doing something different. Apart from the photos, we will be including a description of what Chef Top & Michelle wants to bring across for each dish. We thought this was more important because just hearing the story of each dish brings more meaning and it allows us to better appreciate what was done.
Chef Top: Michelle had an obsession with replicating a Ferrero Rocher a while back and thought this was the perfect opportunity. Also we really first thought there was no way we could keep it 100% Thai/local ingredients wise. To our surprise, after a little research, it was more than possible! Kad Kokoa chocolates were used for the coating. Mulberries pickled and cooked down in Thai red wine. Duck liver parfait marinaded in blend 285 (just your basic rum) and then sous vide. Emulsify with Cao Cao butter and duck eggs.
Focaccia, Fresh Ricotta, Rocket Pesto
Chef Top: The fresh ‘ricotta’ will be made as the guest are sitting down and served with wild rocket leaves from Hua Hin. The rocket is turned into a cashew nut pesto using local cheese. Something very familiar but taken from a different angle.
Local Shellfish, Tomato Water, Thai Herb Oil
Chef Top: This was one of my favourites. I’m happy most of our guest appreciated it. Local tomatoes marinaded in coconut vinegar and palm sugar then hung overnight to get a clear ‘raw’ tomato consume. Shellfish (5 different shellfish in total) all prepare in different ways. Served with gooseberries and wildflowers. The flowers aren’t just a garnish for this dish. Extremely pungent flowers are crushed (mortar and peso style) to resemble the early stages of a curry paste are rubbed in oil and sprinkled on top of the fish!
Grilled Rock Lobster, Salted Pink Pomelo, Chili Jam, Fresh Pomelo, Bitter Leaves
Chef Top: Fruit and shellfish. A classic combo. There is a lot of fruits in our cooking – simply because Thailand has amazing fruits. Although our food isn’t Thai in terms of traditional flavour profile – our approach to try and balance things out in a ‘thai’ way is actually similar. Something salty, sweet, sour and slightly bitter. This dish I think represents what we are trying to do quite well. What is it? Is it Thai? Is it western? Is it fusion? I don’t think there is any exact category which it falls under. Oh no, another Chef doing whatever he wants. No, this isn’t the case at all. We are calling it modern territorial because we feel it’s showcasing what’s possible with Thai ingredients. Some might say it’s very Thai, while I know most Thais will say it’s not Thai at all. To me, it doesn’t really matter. Michelle and I are always and will always be chefs who put deliciousness before interestingness.
Chef Top will always be there at every dish to explain what you will be eating.
Red Cabbage Risotto
Chef Top: An absolute nod to Pierre Gagnaire for this dish. I remember making a green pepper reduction for his green pepper ice cream (yes, utter bliss). I was shocked someone would actually juice 5kg of vegetables just to get 300g of juice. The flavour, however, blew my mind. I thought to my self, here we all are, running around reducing stocks for meat and fish and never to think to reduce pure veg juices. I have since juice and reduced every single vegetable that has come my way. Of course, some work wonders while others ermmm not so much. The red cabbage was one that was amazing. The sweetness and sheer earthy-ness make it a great companion for a barley ‘risotto’. Again; to all those Italian followers who are reading this, it’s a fake risotto, so please don’t get your panties in a knot. It’s thickened with red cabbage juice and reduced red wine. Emulsify with local cheddar and also macadamia oil. Purple oxalis and crispy shallots add a whole different dimension to the plate.
Barramundi confit. Rosella gel, Apple blossom, Nasturtium, Peas, Water chestnut, Squid consommé
Chef: I love that this dish is probably only doable in South-East Asia. Squid is one of the most sustainable ingredients we have in our waters. The quality is also great. Even if everyone ate it three times a day and 7 days a week I’m sure Thailand will still have enough squid. Since they are such great value for money you can do something which creates very low yield. What better way than making a broth and clarifying it with ice filtration. A modern consommé which is probably the best way to yield seafood flavours as you don’t reheat the broth more than twice. This dish has huge potentials. I love it the way it was but felt we could have really refined the way it was served. Also, water chestnuts, I nearly lost it when the cleaner told me it was tasteless. I told her to eat one again and really taste it. It has flavour, I think a fair amount. Things that are humble and in abundance we always take for granted and deem them as mellow in flavour. When in actual fact they hold really well all on their own. One can’t really go wrong with shellfish broth and nicely cooked seafood. However, if done right, I believe it can be one of the most elegant fish dishes around. Always better to be delicious than too interesting.
Chicken, Fermented Mushroom, Peppercorn, Mustard Greens
Chef Top: For our first Ter’ra pop-up we decided to do a zero ‘salt’ dish. The only salt added was in the brine for the chicken and the early stages of fermenting the straw mushrooms for the mushroom ‘miso’. Everything else is all natural seasoning. This dish was to really showcase mushroom. The chicken itself was actually just an added bonus. A total of 12 different mushrooms when into this dish. I love stretching ingredients and elevating humble ‘cheap’ ingredients. A lot of people don’t realise that pricing of ingredients is completely man-made.
Pink Guava Sorbet, Shallot
Chef Michelle: This is inspired by when you eat fruits on the street you get the fruits with a sweet and salty dip with chilli. So we have the refreshingly sweet and sour sorbet, together with the confit shallot and chilli flakes to give it the savoury taste and kick of spice.
Soy Caramel Braised Sweet Potato, Rice Crumble, Soy Milk Ice Cream
Chef Michelle: It’s a soy braised sweet potato disc, sweet potato cream, rice crumble and soy milk ice cream. The idea behind it is that you have the different textures of sweet potato and finish with the cold soy milk ice cream to give you a more mellow dessert after you’ve had a punchy pre-dessert. Also showcasing sweet potato in a way that people don’t normally look at it because, in Asian style desserts, it’s always either just make into a paste then add to a cake mix or boiled in coconut milk.
Chef Michelle posing with her dessert creations!
Always a wonderful meal by Chef Top and this time with the inclusion of Michelle. They are definitely one of my favourite Chefs in Bangkok serving up delicious food and sometimes, you can only eat it once in your life. I’m still missing the Masala Prawn which was the first dish by Chef Top that “WOW-ed” me.
For those who want to join Ter’ra Pop-ups, these are the dates to take note. Advanced booking is required at email@example.com or 063-513-3158.
Ter’ra Upcoming Pop-ups (more dates to be confirmed)
- 7 and 8 March at House of Sub-Zero and Wolf
- 26 and 27 April at House of Sub-Zero and Wolf