Dining in Mexico: Ku’uk

Ku’uk restaurant in Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico is housed in a restored mansion.

It offers fine dining with dishes inspired on Mexican dishes and ingredients, with some Lebanese influences due to the Lebanese community in Mérida.

We opted for the 21 course tasting menu (MXN 2100, approximately 105 euros) with beverage pairing (MXN 1100, 55 euros) for two cocktails and three glasses of wine. The courses are served in groups, with many of them the size of an amuse bouche. The menu had a nice fold out of the mansion.

The first courses were paired with a cocktail of mezcal (Mexican distilled beverage from agave), nixta (corn liqueur) and sweet Mexican vermouth. It was nicely balanced and not too strong, and paired well with the dishes.

Codzito DzikilPaak. A very crunchy fried corn tortilla roll (codzito) with a delicious filling that included pumpkin seeds. The waiters speak English but with such a thick accent that it is hard to understand the descriptions of the dishes.

Warak Enab in Tetela: Lebanese-Mexican fusion. A grape leaf filled with rice and ground lamb (warak enab), inside tetela (a triangular pocket of corn from Oaxaca), served with a dried chile mole.

Yucatán lime soup, served inside a lima (a local type of lime).

The soup contained tiny slivers of tortilla.

The chef likes to play with visual effects, like the ‘fake fossils’ that were served under a dome with smoke.

The smoke was nicely fragrant.

The fake fossils were crispy and very tasty.

Esquite pibinal: corn cooked in a hole in the ground for 72 hours, served with corazón cheese, butter and xcat’iik chile. Delicious.

Tabbouleh, labneh, and star apple. Another Lebanese influence, served on a porcelain leaf.

The wine for the next dishes was a Grenache rosé from Mexico, quite similar to rosé from the Provence.

More visual effects.

This one imploded after a while.

The pib pumpkin inside was sweet, which didn’t really work with the dry rosé.

The sunflower with squash and mole was delicious and looked great. The mole had a very deep flavor, which unfortunately was too sweet for the rosé.

The following wine was a Gewurztraminer from Mexico, dry and with a mineral style.

The lion’s paw scallop with coconut and fenugreek was delicious, and a good pairing with the Gewurz. The scallop flavor was outstanding.

The Tikinxic octopus was delicious as well.

The mahi mahi with three spinach kimchi was delicious, although the kimchi was not sour and not spicy. It had more of an earthy/soy sauce flavor.

The final wine was a Malbec from Argentina, with hints of bay leaf and licorice.

The creole suckling pig with lentil stew was quite nice; the pulled pork had been pressed into a square shape and was then seared to a crisp. The meat was a bit dry, but flavorful and nice with the lentils. The wine was a bit strong for the dish.

The presentation of the braised beef tongue with mole was amazing (the tongue attached to the fork could not be eaten).

Then it was time for dessert.

The first one was called ta’uch and was light and crispy.

The second cocktail that was served with the desserts was made with habanero, rosemary, honey, and star anise. It was interesting how some of the desserts brought out the rosemary, as the aniseed and habanero were the more obvious flavors.

The pi?a colada was also light and crispy, so not what one would expect.

The honeycomb was delicious and crunchy with corn and honey.

More smoke with the chocolate and tomato. The tomato was frozen with liquid nitrogen but did not have much flavor.

Rice and radish.

Guava, meringue and amaranth.

Seeds and grasshopper brittle, and a coffee bonbon.

The presentation of all of the food was beautiful and original. Some of the dishes were delicious, some seemed to be more about presentation than about flavor. But none of the dishes were bad and they were all very well executed. The cocktail pairings worked very well, the wine pairings not so much. There isn’t much competition for this type of restaurant in this part of Mexico, so this may very well be the best fine dining restaurant of the area. The price is very reasonable.

After the 21 courses I was still hungry, so I decided to add a 22nd course at the ‘restaurant’ located next to Ku’un…

8 thoughts on “Dining in Mexico: Ku’uk

  1. Amazing. I will never go to Mexico, so loved sampling vicariously. The lime soup was my favorite.

    But, really, Stefan… MacDonald’s fries??? Too pedestrian!! Couldn’t you find a decadent ice cream cone somewhere?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh! Have been ‘sharing’ your taco meals on Instagram but surely did not anticipate the story of your most unusual degustation experience early on a busy weekday morning! Original! Different! Educational! Beautifully served! Interestingly ‘watered’! Immense fun! . . . and I SO understood the Macca’s ending (C’mon, I’m Australian!) and clapped . . . thank you Stefan and Kees . . . now I wanna be there . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  3. 21 courses and still hungry? That would be disappointing. Not that we dine in the calibre of restaurants you and Kees dine in, I find some of the descriptions are lost in the translation, your example of kimchi, perhaps it was just cabbage salad or slaw? Are they trying to make it sound current and fancy with the understanding of the exact words they use. It can be disappointing. The dishes did look really cool; I’m always intrigued by the ones served with smoke under glass. To be honest, I’m not surprised that the wine pairings didn’t work, Mexico doesn’t strike me as a mature wine-making region. I probably would have preferred pairings with tequila, they definitely know something about that.
    We have been travelling through Europe for over a month so it’s been difficult to keep up the comments. Hope you’ll forgive me.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It certainly does, but it’s not my cup of tea either. I do know a little as JT likes it. I would liken it to whiskey, various quality levels from shots (usually the bottom of the barrel) to fine, slow-sipping liquor. There is wuite the variety and price-points.

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