Hong Kong is full of culinary hot spots that even the unassuming cha chan teng at the corner of the street could yield some delicious comfort food. During one of my trips there, I experienced Asian molecular gastronomy at three-Michelin-star restaurant Bo Innovation. Started by Hong Kong chef Alvin Leung, who gave himself the title “Demon Chef”, Bo Innovation was ranked top 100 by Michelin’s Guide in 2014.
We opted for the Chef’s Menu, which consisted of 13 dishes. The price came up to about HKD1980 per person, inclusive of sales charge. Service at the restaurant was impeccable. The waiter provided me with a shawl as I felt cold at my indoor seat. The restaurant is also able to customise the menu according to guests’ dietary preferences.
Egg waffles are traditional Hong Kong street food and the ham bits helped to provide a savory twist to this otherwise light and fluffy snack.
Tea: The amuse bouche was named “Tea”, which served fresh oyster with long jing tea jelly, together with lime paste and spring onion. The oyster was fresh but the raw aftertaste was a tad overwhelming.
Two of my dinner companions preferred not to take raw seafood and had this interesting dish instead. The “brown soil” was actually flavorful mushroom crisps!
Saba: A spoonful of saba sashimi with a cloudy foam of ponzu and the aroma of rose helped to provide a sensory tasting experience.
Foie Gras: A true example of East meets West having the pan-fried foie gras matches with Chinese style “Mui Choy” ice cream and crisp. I didn’t enjoy this dish because the ice-cream too salty and I didn’t think that the taste complemented well with the foie gras. I would have also preferred the foie gras to be cooked a bit longer.
Har Mi: The Chinese noodles was mixed with some chilli and crab roe, with taste of the dried prawns (har mi), which are frequently used in Asian cuisine. This was a subtle dish. While tasty, it did not really impressed us.
Tomato: This dish introduced the Pat Chun vinegar, which is a commonly used in dishes for ladies who just gave birth. The cherry tomato was soaked in the vinegar and we were advised to eat it with one gulp to avoid juice from gushing out of the fruit. The crisp was another intepretation of the tomato – with tomato bits encrusted in the pastry. The fluffy tomato marshmallow ended the dish with a light touch.
Molecular: This is Bo’s signature dish – a reinterpreted Xiao Long Bao. The jelly ball was filled with a gravy that tasted exactly like xiaolongbao, and the red strip is ginger strip, which mimic the ginger and vinegar dip that we often use before savoring the xiaolongbao. This was probably the highlight of the dinner, we were both surprised and enthralled by the symphony of flavours in just one bite.
Lobster: This dish was definitely less spectacular compared to the earlier one. The lobster was dipped in butter and corn sauce, as well as sea urchin crisp. I would have preferred the lobster to be cooked longer, as it felt a bit raw.
Bubble Tea: This was an interesting interpretation of my favourite drink. There was mango paste, hawthorn paste and translucent pearls with chilli powder that added a sudden tinge of spice. We couldn’t figure whether this was a dessert but it was delicious and was a great palette cleanser before the main course.
Organic “Long Kiang” Chicken: The main course consists of two portion – the chicken and the 7-years aged acquerello rice, cooked in Chinese style. The chicken was a simple dish, but the meat was tender and delicious. The rice, which was served in Chinese claypot, was more intriguing. No doubt the 7-years acquerello rice chosen by the chef was the best choice used in renown restaurants such as the Fat Duck in the UK, we couldn’t decide whether this was European risotto, or Chinese congee.
Memories of Cha Chan Teng: Dessert started off with a bang. On the plate, we had condensed milk ice-cream, peanut butter crisps, and egg custard reminiscent of the egg tart topped with salted egg paste and corn syrup. The “ying yang” drink served together with the dessert was a mousse with coffee on one side and tea on the other. In my opinion, it was a very creative presentation encapsulating the essence of Cha Chan Teng (Hong Kong cafes).
Pineapple: Pineapple, known as “Po Lo” in Cantonese, is a key ingredient in traditional Hong Kong desserts and pastries. I started off with the burnt coconut ice-cream. It tasted like gula melaka. Subsequently, I ventured into the pineapple meringue which was embedded with pepper seeds, exuding a zesty taste. This dish concluded with a full slice of sweetened pineapple.
Sandalwood: A simple ending to the gourmet journey, the spoonful of mandarin oranges with almond cream and ginger sprinkles, surrounded by the aroma of sandalwood was very refreshing.
The meal ended with the “Petit Dim Sum“, which was a dessert sampler with different offerings from the Demon Chef – ranging from the red date marshmallow, sesame ball with chocolate, osmanthus jelly, just to name a few.
Verdict: This was indeed a very polished meal and an interesting gastronomic experience. What was exciting for us Asian diners was the creativity of Chef Leung, integrating the influences from East and West and creating unique renditions of Hong Kong street food. The impeccable service we received from the service staff further made our dining experience pleasant and memorable.
Shop 13, 2nd Floor, J Residence,
60 Johnston Road,
Wanchai, Hong Kong.
This post was originally published on MsGlitzy.com in June 2012.