August 3, 2014

Penthouse dining

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It's been a while since I last met up with Ninja for a meal, so we made plans to catch up tonight.  I narrowed it down to a choice of 2 restaurants, and Ninja decided to go for Penthouse by Harlan Goldstein.  I relished the chance to check out one of Harlan's new joints, since plenty of people have already been and written about it.

I arrived while the sun was still up, and got an eyeful of the stunning view of Victoria Harbour.  I can't remember the last time I got a view like this from the Hong Kong side, and this was definitely one of the perks of dining here.

I didn't want to choose anything I could get any other day at Gold by Harlan Goldstein or Harlan Goldstein's Comfort, so Ninja and I scanned through the menu and picked out a couple of things... nothing crazy.  As it turned out, it was still too much food.

Hokkaido scallop carpaccio, avocado, aji panca, passion fruit, crispy rice - pretty good, actually.  The scallop slices were tender and sweet.  I liked the creamy avocado, the fruity flavors and acidity from the passion fruit, and then there's the crunchy crispy rice for textural contrast.  Of course, rice crispies are also nice and fragrant.  Pretty good way to kick off.

Foie gras and warm eel, apple puree, sweet chili sauce - Ninja and I both stared at the plate in front of us for a little while, having been left a little speechless.  We were both thinking of numerous creations where chefs have combined layers of eel with layers of foie gras terrine, blending the flavors of the two ingredients and allowing them to compliment each other.  But what we have here... was a piece of pan-fried foie gras, and a piece of grilled eel...  Where we supposed to eat them separately, or together in the same bite?  I wasn't sure, but I put both in the mouth together, and kinda found the flavors I was looking for.

Spanish Duroc pork ribs bomba rice, chorizo and piquillo peppers - well, I don't seem to remember Harlan offering any "stone pot paella" at any of the other outlets, so I figured I'd try this out.  The Spanish Duroc pork ribs were the same as the ones from Comfort, and really melt-in-your-mouth yummy as I had expected.  The rice was very tasty thanks to the piquillos and the chorizo, although once I started spooning the homemade garlic aioli on top I found myself unable to stop.  We were also told that the finishing touches were added by putting the whole thing into the Josper.  However, the one minor flaw here was the complete absence of socarrat.  I even tried leaving some of the rice in the stone pot, but there wasn't enough heat left.  Oh well...

Italian arborio rice, Maine lobster, sakura shrimps, lobster sauce, basil and bottarga - we were a little apprehensive about ordering two rice dishes... but I really wanted to try both.  This turned out to be the better of the two, which wasn't at all surprising given that the sauce was basically the same one Harlan uses for my favorite carabinero pasta - lobster, sakura shrimp (桜海老), bottarga... all the intense and unique flavors that I love.  The rice itself was also done pretty well... and there was plenty of lobster to go around.

Ninja decided that she was full, and left it up to me to finish the two rice dishes.  I hesitated a little but decided to finish the risotto... because I simply couldn't resist that sauce.  The end result?  I was a little too stuffed... to the point where I could easily have been nauseous.  No dessert for me, then...

We were generally pretty happy with what we had... which didn't surprise me given that this is one of Harlan's joints.  One minor annoyance, though, was that the waiters were a little over-eager trying to take the stone pot away when there was still food left.  We wanted to pause a little before finishing it up, and I guess the staff was waiting till we had cleared it before serving us the risotto.  I had to tell about 4 different guys that we weren't finished with the bomba rice... but eventually the helpful manager got the hint.

We were also a little disappointed to find out that the rooftop wasn't finished so we couldn't go up for a drink.  Maybe next time...

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