Saturday, June 25, 2011
Bo Innovation @ Johnston Road, Wan Chai
Heading to Wanchai was a first and it brought more surprises than one. Chancing upon The Pawn has to be it...a converted restaurant with a pawnshop concept...loving it! Brunch hollers.
Finally at the doorsteps of the intended destination.
Guess it right?
I got my reservation at Bo Innovation mixed up so I did not get the requested counter seat. Neither was I offered one when the diners actually changed their seats. My bad for mixing up the dates so I was kindly offered a seat at another's table and had a 9pm time limit to meet. Though they did not rush, I had the ticking timeline at the back of my head throughout the 2 hour dinner.
The view above...not so very picturesque...more like we became the objects of scrutiny of those staying in the apartments!
Peer below and you intrude into the privacy of the Thai diners.
I wanted very much to try a French Michelin dinner in Hongkong but I figure I should at least give their homegrown chef a go! Off to Bo Innovation for "Extreme Chinese Cusine", a unique selling proposition that you are reminded of the minute I rested my bum on their chair. Promptly, the opposite chair was removed as I was dining alone. Strangely, the same promptness could not be accorded to my arm candy. Perhaps it was not candied enough for a chair.
Table laid for a feast.
Menu for keeps!
A snap of the guy behind this - Chef Alvin Leung, whom I had a chance to meet!
I feel they have one too many service staff. At least ten of them on standby. One to serve, another to describe in length the details. Each dish brings you a new face, at least through the 9 course, I saw four different faces. Execution is sharp and they spare no delay in making sure the description of food is done under 15 seconds from the moment the dish is laid down.
Complimentary carbs of 雞蛋仔..loving the novelty attached to this! Bo Innovation took a regular Hongkong street snack, threw in some expensive ham bits and here it is, their very own 雞蛋仔 with a savoury twist. Comes complete with a Bo Innovation wrapper as well. This was when I enlightened how 雞蛋仔 is supposed to taste.
Crispy on the outside and moist within. I actually liked the savoury version as much as the sweet. The bacon like bits would have been perfect with bak kwa instead. A pity no refills were offered.
Thoughtful gesture of wet napkins provided throughout the meal.
pat chun,“lam kok”
"Lam Kok" is a sauce that they use to season the tomato. Pat Chun however refers to olives. This tomato platter reminded me of Iggy's.
In order of instruction to eat;
De-skinned tomato - Flavoured with Lam Kok, this had a sweet juicy finish.
Sliced cherry tomato - This had a firmer bite to the first tomato.
Tomato Jelly - Flavours well sealed in the jelly.
While I did not hugely fancy the pat chun cream sauce, I thought the platter was a pretty good appetizer.
Morel or morcellas are mushrooms in laymen terms. Iberico 36 refers to the iberico ham that has been cured for 36 months, stuffed with morel and vermicelli with foam. I was advised to consume it in one bite. The ham was tasty though not overly salty, liked the idea of stuffing it with vermicelli and morel which gave it a better bite. What I found hard to adapt to was the aftertaste of the combination, the taste that lingered on for a while too long.
bamboo pith, wood fungus
Wrapped in fish maw, the sliver of foie gras was stuffed within. A delicate piece of edible art this was yet the wonders of foie gras was understated. It came across as slightly bland.
saffron miso, sauternes, seaweed
No stranger to a plating like this, presentation wise I was not wowed but the taste of it did. Cod well done in all its succulence and seasoning - extra loved the sweet crust! Saffron miso blobs and sauternes jelly cubes were well executed here - delicate balance of sweet and savoury. The crispy seaweed created a perfect crunch to this dish.
"xiao long bao"
Famed for this, I was most looking forward to this avant garde way of eating xiao long bao. Made with a technique called 'sphering', the chef cleverly made the skin of this with aubergine and filled it up with crab roe broth finished with a slice of red ginger. All in one mouthful, I slurped up this molecular xiao long bao. The rich broth was very palatable, and felt like one of those long simmering broths with all the essence captured.
Will I trade the Shanghai delicacy for this?
Nope. Yes it was delightful and well re-created but not awesome enough for me to give up the carnivorous delight.
kaffir lime, kyoho grape, passion fruit, shichimi potato
The parting one of all appetizers. One huge scallop with four different dips. Kudos to the kitchen for the well seared scallop, plump and pink!
Kaffir lime - Zesty!
Kyoho Grape - Loved how the grape jelly melted into nothingness.
Passionfruit - Thought this combination was ordinary.
Shichimi Potato - Spicy cream of potato with a crispy shell. Loved the spicy kick of this!
sichuan vanilla, apple, peas
I limited my choices to suckling pig or pigeon to remain true what I thought was true blue Cantonese cuisine though langoustine or beef would have stood equal chances on normal days.
The waiter advised the suckling pig for a "stronger taste". I hope I was in for a treat.
A huge chunk of suckling pig, crispy skin with a thick layer of jellied fat and meat. Here comes the theory of siew yoke HK style (it's fat over meats people!). No gamey taste, no gamey smell...I wish there was just a bit more flavour to it. I dabbed it with seasalt - works wonders.
I actually thought the peas were awesome, so was the stewed apple made to look like a pineapple ring. Oh yes, the brown sauce? It's reduction of pigeon.
bun, white chocolate latte
The first dessert is a deconstructed po lo bun. The waiter even brought a po lo bun out for comparison (I reckon it's for the foreigners who may not have seen, much less eaten one before!).
They took the pineapple crust and created a cookie out of it, made butter-flavoured icecream and grilled pineapple sticks too! The magic ends not, comes with hot pineapple latte and white chocolate.
One swell dessert!
Petit Dim Sum
First up comes a basket of sweets, first layer of traditional hongkong sweets of white rabbit candy and orange jelly.
The second is a more modern take on sweets - pralines with kumquat and fudge filling. Lastly, was a bamboo container of steamed ma lai goh and traditional glutinous rice balls with modern flavours of panna cotta and molten chocolate.
Yes I know, I do not touch chocolate but for that particular meal...I went all out.
I mega adored the modern and traditional elements captured in the dessert. Particularly loved the spongey ma lai goh. I still prefer my glutinous rice balls with peanut or black sesame fillings though the idea was really ingenious.
Going back in time with Hongkong traditionals. Love!
Service is impeccable without being intrusive. My cup of hot water was constantly refilled to keep the temperature constant - impressive effort! The diners banter as if they were dining in someone's backyard, more so than a fine dining establishment. It may come across as noisy at some point.
I spotted Chef Alvin Leung that night! Call it sheer luck since he is only in town for 5 days every month and was flying off the next day after flying in that very day after a gruelling filming session with Joanne Peh in Singapore followed by Paula in KL. It must have been my sneaking photos of him that caught his attention while he smoked his cigars with his pals. He walked over to say his "hellos" and that began our close to 20 minute conversation.
Down to earth chef who speaks fluent English and readily shares his insights into Hongkong food and even Singapore food..like a friend it felt. He shared his love for his chihuahuas that he barely has time for..how he hates travelling so..and the opening of his next restaurant in London. It was a really interesting experience being able to speak to a chef on that level, and I was just a random diner!
Mostly patronized by foreigners with a handful of locals, someone reminded me why he'd not bother with Michelin starred restaurants - these are afterall accredited by the European community. Would an ang moh know how to appreciate non- ang moh food? Food for thought. Even then, I'll still continue in this quest to try as many stars as I can in my future travels.
Still the thought: If you don't try, you'd never know.
Tasting Menu - HKD 780+
Tea - HKD 60
Shop 13, 2/F J Residence, 60 Johnston Road, Wan Chai