Dinner @ Belon (Hong Kong)

July 5, 2018 in French

My colleague and I happened to travel to Hong Kong during Mother’s Day weekend. So it’s no surprise that most restaurants offered special menu instead. However I, on the other hand, wanted a regular menu since I blog about my dining experiences. And just as I was struggling to find a place, I saw pictures of Belon’s signature dish pigeon pithivier on instagram.

An email was sent and they confirmed that Belon would still be offering their regular menu. With that, reservation was made for 2 for a Sunday evening. Was really glad they were opened on Sundays too.

Opened in March 2016, Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants by S. Pellegrino has already ranked the restaurant 40 on its 2018 list. As taken from Belon’s website… Belon, a neo-Parisian bistro reminiscing the food scene found in Paris’ 11th arrondissement, is led by head chef Daniel Calvert who has 10 years of experience in Michelin-starred kitchens.

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


1) Appetiser, Complimentary (above) – Cream-mustard filled gougère. This was really good. Just look at the melted cheese. My colleague and I contemplated if we should ask for seconds, but we decided not to. Don’t want to throw our faces by seeming like gluttons lah.

2) Handmade natural leavened bread, Complimentary (above)

3) Crispy asparagus with “sauce gribiche”, HKD78 (above) – My colleague and I casually mentioned we would be sharing the dishes when our orders were taken, and it was nice that the waiting staff took (serious) note of it. When our dish was served, the kitchen portioned the asparagus into 2 for our ease of eating.

4) Foie gras “au torchon” with preserved blackberries, HKD328 (above)

5) Shima aji “salade nicoise”, HKD228 (above)


6) Merguez sausage sandwich with salsa verde, HKD158 (above) – This was really good. I especially liked that the texture of the homemade sausage (made with chicken and lamb) reminded me much of luncheon meat. Compressed luncheon meet. Keke.


7) Pigeon pithivier with fig and amaretto, HKD678 (above) – What no one mentioned was that it’s a dish for 2. So it was sad because I arrived at Belon with a colleague wanting to try as many dishes as possible. But, but… We could only try just 1 main. Sob. But thankfully this didn’t disappoint. A little on the heavy side, but we were 2 happy patrons.

8) Tarte au chocolate “bernard pacaud”, HKD158 (above) – We actually expected the chocolate to be hard, but were surprised when our forks sliced through very easily. Not too bad.

I definitely recommend Belon. My colleague and I had a good time dining at the restaurant. It’s a pity there was only 2 of us because I wanted to try other dishes; Roasted chicken and millefeuille.

And it’s another pity Belon was only open for lunch service on Sundays. When we arrived at 8.30pm, I noticed the space was dimly lit. And I felt that did the interior decor little justice because I could imagine how gorgeous the space would be to dine in during the day with sun rays entering through the window and lighting up the place. But I guess with the dim lights, the restaurant transited from ‘elegant yet relaxed’ in the day to ‘romantic and seductive’ in the night.

BELON
41 Elgin Street, SoHo, Hong Kong
+852 2152 2872, Website, Facebook
Overall: 7.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Tue – Sat : 18:00 – 22:30
Ambience: 8
Sun : 12:00 – 22:30
Value: 7
Service: 7
* Closed on Mon

Dinner @ RŌNIN (Hong Kong)

June 30, 2018 in European, Japanese

In all my past trips to Hong Kong, I didn’t manage to check out RŌNIN simply because I reckoned it would be too difficult to secure a reservation. But for my May 2018 trip, I decided to give it a shot. Must be the confidence boast from dining successfully at RAW. Haha.

Thanks to my colleague’s reminder 2 weeks prior to our Hong Kong trip that I need to settle my accommodation (I am quite a procrastinator, sometimes), I remembered I was just in time to make reservation for RŌNIN; RŌNIN only accepts reservation 2 weeks in advanced. And I managed to get us a slot for Saturday evening. And between the 2 seatings (6.30pm and 8.45pm), we went with 6.30pm.

Currently ranked 41 on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2018 by S. Pellegrino, my colleague and I arrived at the street (where RŌNIN is located) at 6.30pm sharp. However, we couldn’t locate the entrance because there was no shopfront signage. It was only when a group arrived a few minutes after us and entered a blue door against a blue wall that we figured out that had to be RŌNIN.

Seats were allocated based on first come first serve basis. And from the menu, we ordered:-

1) Pre-appetiser, Complimentary (above)

2) Kurosoi black rockfish sashimi, HKD70 (above) – With daikon, ponzu, yuzu kosho.

3) Bonito tuna sashimi, HKD180 (above) – With daikoku, ice lettuce, yuzu kosho.

4) KFC sawagani crab, HKD130 (above) – With yuzu, sesame.


5) Flower crab, uni, HKD490 (above) – With mitsuba, sudachi.

6) Grilled kanpachi, HKD160 (above) – With kama, sake, ginger, sudachi.


7) Quail, HKD270 (above) – With orange, sansho.

8) Unagi chirashi, HKD270 (above) – With Kinome, pickled cucumber, sesame.

Will I recommend RŌNIN? Well… Izakaya is not a new concept in Singapore. RŌNIN somewhat reminded me of IZY in terms of ambience vibe and food (both served Japanese-influenced dishes). Food were generally good but one must order the correct dishes. My colleague and I were lucky that most of our orders were hits. Keke.

Seats were allocated on first-come-first-serve basis. Don’t be late because RŌNIN gives up one’s reservation after 15 minutes, and people do walk in and try their luck in taking over seats from latecomers. Gasp. My colleague and I were apparently the last group to reach. Thus, we were allocated seats that’s just right at the entrance. Noting there’s limited counter seats at the bar, I recommend one to reach earlier if one doesn’t want to sit facing the wall. Yeah, most of the seats are facing the wall.

RŌNIN
8 On Wo Lane, G/F, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
+852 2547 5263, Website, Facebook
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Sat : 18:00 – 00:00
Ambience: 7
Value: 7
Service: 7
* Closed on Sun

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