August 5, 2010

No sex on the beach, please...

Pin It

It's my turn to take Witz out tonight for a unique dining experience, and I asked the Resident Froggie to join us at Bo Innovation.  It's been more than a year since my last meal there, although I've been a fan of Alvin Leung's cuisine for almost 6 years now.  I still think that for a serious foodie visiting Hong Kong, Bo Innovation provides a one-of-a-kind experience that is hard to come by elsewhere.

I thought about getting the wine pairing, but decided to bring my own wine anyway.  As I suspected, the 2004 Pax Aphrodite was over the hill.  You just can't age a Viognier... it loses all its freshness and floral notes and turns into something else.  Nose of honey, oxidized pear, sweet like marzipan, marmalade, and somehow not very "clean".

Witz chose the Chef's Menu, which he felt was kinda "middle of the road" in terms of the number of courses.  It was certainly a lot of food...  Fortunately, only a few dishes were repeats from my last meal.

Oyster : spring onion, lime, ginger snow - we start off with something I had last year.  The oyster was Kumamoto, which is normally sweet and creamy.  This time I thought the ginger and spring onion flavors kinda overpowered the oyster, which is a shame... Ginger + spring onion is such a classic combination in Chinese cuisine, used to neutralize the "fishy" smell of seafood.

Har mi : red prawn, capellini, chilli, sage - the prawn was a Spanish gamba carabinero, which was perfectly fresh, succulent and delicious.  The tobiko (とびっ子) on top was clearly a Japanese influence, but the whole dish was overpowered by the sprinkle of prawn powder.  The intense flavors from the powder was great, and reminiscent of the Cantonese prawn roe noodles (蝦籽撈麵) that one finds in local noodle shops.  However, there is good reason why there is usually nothing else on the plate of those noodles other than prawn roe... Very yummy, but need to carefully extract and enjoy the carabinero before your taste buds get overloaded by the powder.

True- 8 vinegar : tomato, foie gras, ginger - what a coincidence!  The inspiration from this dish comes from pig trotters braised in vinegar and ginger (豬腳薑), which is eaten after the birth of a child.  I'd just had some of that last night, since I'm still celebrating the birth of my godson.  The "true-8", as I suspected, is a play on the name 八珍 - a famous local brand of condiments where they also offer the trotters.  The cherry tomato was pretty  big, but delicious to eat in one bite.  We tasted spices such as cinnamon and star anise along with the vinegar, which also went really well with the perfectly pan-seared foie.

Part 2 of the dish saw the waiter drop a cube of flash-frozen ginger powder into the bowl, thereby completing the vinegar-ginger combination.  The ginger powder was pretty tightly packed, and as I was "chewing" on bits of it I was somehow reminded of semifreddo, although this was definitely harder and doesn't simply melt away without assistance.  I decided not to finish this part, as the ginger flavor became a little too much and I'd just had a big bowl of the same sauce last night...

Scallop : kaffir lime, kyoho grapes, sea urchin, mango, shichimi, potato - wow!  The scallop was perfect, just lightly seared on the outside but raw and tender all the way through.  I love kaffir lime and the coulis definitely worked with the scallop.  The sea urchin and mango coulis was less impressive, and I did not mix the two different coulis as suggested by our waitress.  I didn't find the shichimi (七味) flavor strong enough in the "rösti" below the scallop.  The perfect end to the dish was the kyoho (巨峰) jelly, whose wobble oozed sexuality.  Intensely flavored as the grape itself... wonderful.

Lotus leaf : carot, gnocchi, yaks milk - the yaks milk foam wasn't very strong, but the crunchy cheese crisp was not bad.  The "gnocchi" was made with sweet carrot but filled with the same sauce as was laying at the bottom of the bowl, and oozed out of the agar shell once you cut into it.  The lotus leaf flavor was intense and very enjoyable.

Iberico 36 : morel, vermicelli, onion foam - the onion foam covered the entire bowl, and I had to move some of it aside to reveal what was underneath - a slice of 36-month jamon iberico wrapped around some "vermicelli".  The vermicelli was actually Japanese konnyaku (こんにゃく) cooked in morel sauce, with strong flavors that stood up against the salty ham.  The foam was made from raw onions and had that kick... and I definitely need a breath mint after the meal...

Molecular : "xiao long bao" - another one of Alvin's classics and the essence of molecular gastronomy.  The "filling" was a little more viscous than I remembered, and still tasted like a xiaolongbao (小籠包), but somehow I liked it better last year...

Hunan Ham : halibut, compressed winter melon, honey, fennel, shiitake, pine nuts - the foam was made with shiitake and pine nuts, with a thin layer of ham-flavored gelatin and some mushrooms.  The halibut was very, very tender and juicy, which made me wonder if they had chosen to sous-vide it.  The fennel agar was alright.  The compressed winter melon was pretty hard, and the powder on top seemed to have crunch and fiber, which made us conclude it was ground ham, as opposed to powder made from ham broth.  Winter melon and ham - a very classic Chinese combination.

Red dragon fruit and ginseng sorbet - very nicely done and definitely cleansed my palate!  The American ginseng (花旗蔘) was good and helped cooled down the body in the summer.

Squid : sweet bread, lettuce greens - a little disappointed here... This was done as a "hotpot" with squid-flavored soup, but I didn't taste much squid in the soup - mostly oyster sauce actually...  The tofu square was battered and fried like Japanese agedashi tofu (揚げ出し豆腐), while the fried sweetbread tasted like - of all things - a piece of General Tso's chicken (左宗堂雞)!  Maybe my brain is still a little screwy thanks to my dinner with Witz on Monday...

Sichuan vanilla : apple, suckling pig, peas - OH-MY-GOD... this was really, really good.  The sorbet was made with Sichuan flower pepper (花椒), vanilla and apple, and I thought it was better than the apple-cinnamon combo.  The pig was slow-cooked for 20 hours (OK sous-vide monsters, you win...) and was very, very tender and delicious.  The crackling was yummy.  All the flavors from the fat were preserved - a perfect piece of pig.  The sugar snap peas were infused with a smoky flavor, which made them especially interesting.

Sex on the beach - this was optional, with the additional cost being donated to AIDS Concern.  I decided to add this extra dessert, but in the end I kinda regretted it.  When it arrived I realized that it wasn't - as I had expected - to be a de-constructed version of the cocktail.  I had missed the full vision imagery - which was not a pleasant one - until I was done with the dessert and overheard Alvin explaining it to the next table... The brown "sand" on top was made from Cantonese milk tea (奶茶), and was kinda crunchy and nice.  There was jujube and cognac crème at the bottom, which was also not bad.  A piece of sea shell with the red ribbon needs no further explanation.  The pink agar?  Well, I don't know why it didn't hit me earlier, but it's meant to be a condom made from agar, and there was a liquid coconut and white chocolate cream inside... and it oozed out after I took a bite... Sorry, but the thought of eating a representation of a used and discarded condom is just disgusting.  Thanks a lot, Alvin!  Now I know why our Resident Froggie passed on this one... she'd heard about it earlier.

Sandalwood : almond, hawthorn - I don't think the smoke smelled like sandalwood, as I expected it to be much more fragrant and pleasant.  Instead it was just some type of pungent, woodsy smoke.  The almond tofu (杏仁豆腐) was classic, but I didn't get the distinct hawthorn flavors underneath as it had blended with the overpowering almond extract.

Shui Jing Fang : banana, vanilla, caramel, raisins - my least favorite course, and I barely touched it.  Somehow when I had it last year, it didn't seem so gross to me.  That may be completely psychological, though, as I don't remember being shown the empty liquor bottle and smelling it.  Anyway, the dessert is named after (and made with) a Chinese rice liquor called 水井坊 - which like all Chinese "white wine" (白酒) smells revolting to me.  I just don't get the "fragrance"... because it was just so intensely artificial.  I had the piece of banana and that was it.  Surprisingly, the Froggie was quite happy with it.  I think her boss should send her up to China and entertain some clients... 乾杯!!!

Petit dim-sum - finally we get to the petits fours.  I found the white chocolate truffle interesting because the filling was preserved kumquat (金桔), and the sweet and salty mix was pretty cool.  The kaffir lime macaron was alright on a technical level, but I didn't get the intensity that was unique to kaffir lime.  The cream puff had strawberry preserve and basil-flavored pastry cream.  Kinda interesting.

We were all pretty stuffed, and I think it was definitely a very interesting meal for both of my guests.  Gotta come back during hairy crab season for the classic hairy crab soufflé, which was one of the dishes that first "wow'd" me back in 2004...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sorry dude, pretentious, expensive and not as good as a good dim sum.


Related Posts with Thumbnails

TripAdvisor Travel Map