Lunch @ Bo Innovation (Hong Kong)

April 17, 2017 in Chinese

When the first ever ‘Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants’ list was announced in February 2013 by S. Pellegrino, Bo Innovation somehow stood out to me. And at that moment, I made a note to self to visit the restaurant when I fly to Hong Kong.

But yes, it took me 4 years. Having traveled to Hong Kong at least thrice, one can say there wasn’t a strong pull factor for me to quickly re-visit Hong Kong. But! A family trip was arranged in March 2017 because my brother is getting married and my Mom wanted to buy bridal gifts. So yeah!

I emailed the restaurant and made reservation for weekday lunch successfully. In fact, I was to have lunch at Bo Innovation immediately after touching down. Keke.

  

Bo Innovation was a 8 to 10 minutes walk from Wan Chai MTR station. The lift opened directly into the restaurant and I was greeted by colorful neon lights. It was totally head chef Alvin Leung’s style; Matched his multi-colour hairdo and tattoo.

The receptionist checked my reservation, took my luggage and passed me a tag before her colleague led me to my table. And I noticed every table was set with different Chinaware. A male staff came up to me and said, “The plates are made in Hong Kong with long history. Please take picture and share.” But what puzzled me was that the plates were only placed for decoration. When the dishes came out, the Chinaware was kept.Hmm…

And from the menu (pages 1, 2), I ordered:-

1) Chef lunch menu, HKD800 comprised of:-

  

(A) Egg waffle (above) – “Egg waffle. This is like bread and butter in Hong Kong”, the male staff said. And within the waffle was Yunnan ham and spring onion.

(B) Scallop (above) – Shanghainese “jolo”, woba, sugar snap peas, avocado, lemon. And before the dish came out, the staff presented Beau Ideal’s superior pickle sauce; A marinated cooking wine made from (high quality) rice, wheat and kaoliang liquor, and fermented through modern microorganism technique. “Famous in Shanghai”, he said. Shortly after, the bottle was taken away and my dish was served. Apparently, the Hokkaido scallop was marinated with the presented pickle sauce. Served alongside crispy puff rice, beet root and avocado sour cream.


(C) Fishing village (above) – Spot prawn with soy salt, umami noodles, pickle fuzzy melon. Glass noodle marinated in shrimp oil (made after a 48 hours process), prawn, and black powder made from garlic and ginger cooked at very high heat.

(D) Molecular (above) – X-treme “xiao long bao”. Topped with strip of ginger marinated with red vinegar, I was expecting the skin to be thin like a real xiao long bao. But I had to really bite into it to burst it and taste the soup within. So yes, one need to make sure one’s mouth is fully closed to prevent the soup from spirting out. And this was really tasty.

(E) Foie gras (above) – “Mui choy” caramel ice-cream, green apple, ginger bread. And I was told this was inspired by the pork belly with preserved vegetables (梅菜扣肉) dish. I honestly felt it’s a brilliant dish in terms of varying temperature (room and cold), texture. And I left the green apple foam for the last as I instructed to as I was told it’s to be eaten as the palate cleanser.

  

(F) Mao tai (above) – Lemon, egg white. Served in a cup which shape was modeled after what’s used by emperors in olden days, I was told to hold the cup by the wings and look up 90 degree. And it was quite weird drinking it in that manner; I felt as though I was taking a roller coaster as I watched the liquid falling towards me. And because of the high 53% alcohol content in moutai (distilled Chinese liquor, I could feel warmth spreading within my body once drank. Thank goodness I wasn’t knocked out by this. Haha.


(G) Red mullet (above) – Black bean, pepper, black garlic, yuzu, mullet roe.

(H) Langoustine (above) – Cauliflower, black truffle, salty duck egg yolk. I thought it was interesting that the foam was mustard!

  

(I) Coconut (above) – Palm sugar, desiccated coconut chocolate,
piña colada, cherry, pandan avocado.


2) Caviar & smoked quail egg, HKD280 (above) – Besides the xiao long bao, the other signature dish would be this; Caviar on quail egg with taro. As this was not included in the set menu, I ordered it as a-la carte. And the staff mentioned the concept for this dish was bird nest. Thus it sitting on a tree. I really liked this. A must try.

And with my lunch, I could finally (and proudly) say I’ve dined at Bo Innovation. Yeah! My meal experience would have been made more beautiful with a glimpse of chef Alvin. But unfortunately, he wasn’t at the restaurant. Sob.

Would I recommend Bo Innovation? If one is open to molecular cuisine, I would say yes. Even if one is unsure about molecular gastronomy, I would say chef Alvin was not very extreme in breaking away from what Chinese cuisine should traditionally be cooked.

But what I wasn’t used to was the fast-paced service, which probably was (considered) normal in the context of Hong Kong culture. When the staff delivered the lengthy introduction of the respective dishes, they rattled off like machine-gun. Too fast. I only managed to catch everything almost everything after hearing them repeating the introduction to my neighbouring diners. My plates were cleared almost immediately once I put down my utensils, and the next course was served very efficiently. I did get the slight feeling of ‘I couldn’t relax and breathe properly’.

With 3 Michelin stars meaning ‘exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey’, I wasn’t too aligned with the 3 Michelin stars awarded to Bo Innovation. Unless lunch was just a preview?

BO INNOVATION
60 Johnston Road, J Senses, 1/F, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
+852 2850 8371, Website, Facebook
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Mon – Fri : 12:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Mon – Fri : 19:00 – 00:00 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Sat : 18:00 – 00:00 (Dinner)
Service: 8
 
* Closed on Sun