May 25, 2018

Swedish winter in Hong Kong summer

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V was home alone and in need of some company on a Friday night, so it was time to deliver on my promise to take him out to dinner.  Rather than our original plan to get some meat-on-a-stick, I decided to look for something else.  Getting a table on a Friday night is a challenging proposition - especially when it's on short notice.  I took a chance and contacted Chef Jim Löfdahl at Frantzén's Kitchen, asking whether there was any chance to fit us in.  As I would find out later by chatting with Jim, they have actively reduced the number of covers, so I guess that's why it became possible to squeeze the 2 of us in at a late seating.

First thing I noticed was that the chopstick rests had changed.  Thankfully the menu format has not, and we ordered up a number of dishes to share between us.

Sea urchin tart - this was a daily special that Jim showed us, with 2 different types of sea urchin... Hokkaido aka uni (赤雲丹) as well as something from the Pacific coast of Russia.  These sit on top of a purée of eggplant and fermented soy beans inside a pumpkin tart crust, with strips of nori (海苔) seaweed as garnish.  A good start to dinner.

Chawanmushi - this was a chilled chawanmushi (茶碗蒸し) made with cauliflower and milk instead of eggs, served with fermented mushroom juice, and topped with herring roe and some lemon thyme.  Good depth of flavors from the cauliflower, and the mushroom was certainly noticeable.  A little acidity here, too.

"Swedish sushi" - the one dish I always order here, but tonight this was particularly good.  The roe deer was as good as ever, but the acidity from the cep mayo was noticeably stronger tonight.  Pungent, fermented flavors were also a notch above normal, so I'm guessing we have the shaved foie gras to thank for that.  Perhaps I really should have ordered 3 of these... as I said I would on my last visit.

"French toast" - it's been more than a year since I last had this, and this time around the truffle on top came in the form of thin slices of shaved Italian summer truffle.  The aged cheese tonight delivered pretty strong flavors.  Yum.

Truffle tea - served on the side of the French toast.  Definitely savory and full of mushroom flavors.

Oven-baked bone marrow - with smoked parsley purée, Finnish sturgeon oscietra caviar, sour cream made with 5% cream and lemon, and powdered seaweed.  Naturally the bone marrow was very rich and fatty, and while the parsley purée was a little on the salty side there was good acidity, too.  This, in fact, reminded me of the roasted bone marrow and parsley salad pioneered by Fergus Henderson at St. John and subsequently copied the world over.
Knäckebröd - nowadays they don't give you the knäckebröd until after you've finished the snacks, but that beurre noisette is still the most irresistible thing in the house.  We were pretty restrained, though, and only went through two servings...

"Seven Gardens" - V wanted a salad, so this is what we ordered.  What I didn't tell him, though, was that this wasn't necessary the lightest dish...  Drizzled on top of the vegetables that came from seven separate farms was melted butter made in-house from cream that had been left to ferment for 2-3 days, then churned and had some buttermilk retained for acidity, and finally infused with sansho (山椒) pepper.

Besides the string beans, cucumber, asparagus, potato, mashed potato balls, rhubarb, button mushrooms, purple string beans, cooked beetroot, cooked turnip, eggplant, haricot vert, baby corn, and more was a pile of very toasty and crunchy deep-fried fish scales.

Yes, this was probably one of the richest salads one would ever taste...

Skrei - I loved skrei when I first had it here, so naturally I would order it again.  Tonight it sat in a puddle of goat cheese-infused beurre blanc drizzled with seaweed oil and sprinkled with rosemary powder.  On top of the deliciously browned and succulent fish which had been slow-cooked were little chunks of pickled turnip, some spinach, and a topping of trout roe (JB told us they were salmon roe).

Needless to say, the beurre blanc was extremely rich... and not exactly fitting for the scorching summer we are now in, but it did come with a ton of acidity.

Blue lobster - another daily special.  The homard bleu from Brittany came with a 62°C egg, micro-herbs, fava beans, sauce made with lobster and veal stock, plus fermented cabbage juice.  There was also a sprinkling of truffle bits as well as other crunchy bits on top.  Pretty nice.

Steamed turbot - slow-cooked at low temperature, with sauce of fermented white asparagus, with green and white asparagus, green peas, dried mint leaves, and powdered herbs.  The turbot was, of course, silky smooth and delicious, but once again the sauce was on the rich side.  The presence of pine shoots - which came with some acidity - was rather interesting.

"Hot-pot" - I'm guessing that V ordered this for the veggies... This came with small cubes of Te Mana lamb instead of wagyu inside the "wreath", but no less tender and delicious.  The wreath was a combination of kale, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, and mushrooms.  The cabbage and truffle bouillon in the middle made the dish.

I was surprised that V wanted to taste all three desserts on offer, but I was more than happy to go along!

Sorbet from frozen and dried herbs - this was by favorite of the three.  A sorbet made with, among other things, matcha (抹茶), lemongrass, and coriander.  Topped with oil made with pine shoots, then sprinkled with powder made with fresh as well as crystallized mint.

This was soooo refreshing that it was the perfect balance for the rich dishes we had just consumed.

Thyme ice cream - Jim's version of pavlova, with tomato jam at the bottom, bee pollen, birch tree oil, meringue, and chrysanthemum petals.  Also very nice.
Smoked ice cream - this seemed a little different from the version I had last year... and the restaurant is calling it "2.0".  They have added some pecan foam just below the melted chocolate dome.  The smokiness of the whole thing was still very nice, and I still love the strong flavors of cloves in the salted fudge.

We brought 2 bottles tonight but since 1 of them turned out corked, we ended up ordering a bottle of bongwater natural wine from the list.

Paul Déthune Cuvée à l'Ancienne, dégorgée en janvier 2012 - initially not getting much from the nose, but the palate was pretty nice with good acidity balance.  Slightly dry and a little toasty.  Showed a good amount of maturity and depth of flavors after warming up a little.

1985 Bouchard Vigne de l'Enfant Jésus - definitely TCA with telltale wet cardboard nose.  Madeirized.  Grassy.

2013 Guiberteau Saumur Clos de Guichaux - dry with crisp acidity.  Minerals, a little oak, lemon, and some white flowers.  Long finish.

We we very, very happy with dinner tonight.  The flavors were all there, and remained distinctive even when you have a mix of different ingredients.  V was happy to have made it here for the first time, and hopefully we can come back together soon.  As usual, many thanks to Jim and JB for taking good care of us.

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