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“Best Chef in the World” Dabiz Muñoz Showcases Adventurous Dishes at DiverXO

When eating at the Madrid restaurant, one must leave all inhibitions at home

DiverXO’s dining room / Photo: Courtesy of DiverXO

When he was a child, Dabiz Muñoz dreamed of becoming the chef of a wildly successful and unorthodox restaurant. He envisioned creating groundbreaking places with long lines to enter and interminable online wait lists. His father, a skeptic, used to say, “When pigs fly.” Now, Muñoz has made flying pigs a recurring visual motif, along with skulls that sport the chef’s trademark mohawk haircut, oversize chrome ants, and hundreds of butterflies, all used strategically as integral parts of DiverXO’s decor.

When eating at DiverXO, one must leave all inhibitions at home. Diners will consume an orgy of flavors, with each course containing its own meaning.

The menu is delivered, as each dish arrives, one page at a time, describing a crunchy egg white with black pudding. Another contains pil-pil cuttlefish, while a third with Iberian pork is filled with Spanish Jabugo broth, Korean gochujang and peppermint. And cephalopods noodles with yellow pepper pil-pil and fried rockfish flakes for crunch is delightful.

Cold poached pigeon with Palo Cortado wine / Photo: Courtesy of DiverXO

Don’t be concerned when you see a dish titled Cold Poached Pigeon With Palo Cortado Wine Macerated for a Week. Served on a round hay pillow, the cold poached leg of pigeon is meant to be eaten like a lollipop, alongside a salad of marine plankton, Andalusian smoked caviar, “faux” wine macaroni and embryonic egg yolk, fermented in salt, chilies and purple oxalis. Without a doubt complex and mind-blowing.

Galician lobster / Photo: Courtesy of Diver XO

An impressive looking Red Tuna With Tomato is not as simple as it sounds. Dominating the table, an opaque porcelain rectangle with a round landscaped circle holds a tomato consommé that has been cooked down for 24 hours. Across from that is an elongated platter holding cured red tuna belly, tuna marrow marmitako (a tuna soup with yellow tomatoes, calamansi and mirasol chili) and a piece of Japanese higashi tuna. But the pièce de résistance is the Warm Sashimi With Upside Down Fried Baby Eels. Barely touched by hot oil, the minuscule eels are placed on a Riesling-accented clam velouté with enoki mushrooms and grilled beach sepieta. The extraordinary Galician Lobster Waking Up in Goa Beaches enters the room in an elephant-shaped vessel and delivers several explosive flavors, but I should keep it a surprise for future diners. Holding three Michelin stars since 2013, Muñoz renewed his title of Best Chef in the World during The Best Chef Awards gala in Madrid last fall for the second time in a row. DiverXO has also made a huge jump in The World’s 50 Best list, now occupying the number four spot, which gets Muñoz closer to numero uno. My forecast: If not 2023, it will be in 2024.