May 13, 2014

The clapping seal

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Mo' Unni wanted to check out another restaurant with me, and this time we decided on Serge et le Phoque, her original choice from last time that got passed over for Akrame.  I'd been hearing generally positive feedback about this here place, so I thought it'd be safe to come for a visit.

The restaurant is right in the middle of the wet market area in Wanchai - the exact same area where I walked around in circles looking for dinner on another evening.  Thankfully the scented candles inside the restaurant meant that the air wasn't filled with the same smells as the market.

The set up inside was kinda interesting, but unfortunately for us, all the two-tops are seated side-by-side on banquettes facing in interior of the restaurant.  The table tops are actually really tiny, and you are basically forced to be either intimate - and start encroaching on your companion's space - or you end up getting a little too close to your neighbors.  While I initially thought it strange that a joint opened by Parisian froggies would have its diners facing inward and not outward, it didn't take long for me to realize that my view of the exterior would consist of the wet market...

This was the second of my 5 nights out this week, and I would have happily chosen to have 4 courses, but Mo' Unni had other ideas.  Not wanting to be called the Girl with No Appetite ever again, she opted for the 6-course omakase, and I was more or less obliged to follow suit.

Deep-fried whitebait - this came as a snack.  How could you not love deep-fried fishies?!  Slurp.

Raw snapper with dried plums - our amuse bouche, which was basically a ceviche.  The snapper came in a thick chunk and was a little chewy.  There was a refreshing dollop of cucumber granita on top, which tempered the acidity from the bits of dried plums.

Clams_beurre noisette_chive - pretty yummy.  The acidity of the sauce was particularly nice.

Cuttlefish_tomato_basil - the cuttlefish came in thick chunks, which were mi cuit while the scored exterior were a little dry from grilling.  Nice and satisfying to chew on.  Loved the shellfish bouillon, and there were cherry tomatoes, blood orange, onions and basil here to complement.  And bottarga shavings on the side.

John Dory_corn_cockles - the John Dory was done with herbs like rosemary, and I didn't really get it.  Not a fan of cockles, either.  But the young corn was really sweet and yummy, and the squid ink and yogurt sauces were interesting.

Pigeon_cherry_peas - when you've just had a mind-blowing pigeon from the chef of a 3-macaron restaurant, anything else is likely to pale in comparison.  However, this pigeon was delicious in its own right, and was as pink as it should have been.  The small pile of chopped pigeon liver on top was very yummy, as were the very sweet peas.  I wonder what prompted the kitchen to shave some bottarga here, but no matter...

Brie de Meaux - actually very tasty.

Lemon cream_capsicum - this was not bad, and I definitely could taste the capsicum from the thin layer of gelée on top.

Chocolate tart_cherry blossom - we were told to take the first bite with the "pepper", but it wasn't peppery at all... In fact it was acidic.  But the chocolate tart itself was pretty good, although it was melting and falling apart in the ambient temperature.

Overall, a pretty good meal.  But maybe my expectations had been set too high, and I was just a tad underwhelmed.  While we didn't leave the restaurant hungry, it certainly looks like the 4-course option would have necessitated an after dinner run to the nearest Mickey D's or Tsui Wah.  And although I of all people wouldn't consider the price to be expensive on an absolute basis, it certainly doesn't scream "bargain" or "value for money" either.

Maybe I'll go back for Hugo Desnoyer côte de bœuf next time... I'm sure I won't go hungry after that!

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