April 17, 2019

10 days in 3 cities day 5: no saures lüngerl in Hong Kong

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I'm trying to show my friend Uwe Opocensky some love, so while my friend originally wanted to check out a certain new restaurant which got themselves two macarons recently, I managed to persuade him to come visit Uwe by throwing in the promise of a particular southern German dish.   That got him all excited... and in fact, I was looking forward to it, too!

Service started with a canapes platter placed on the astroturf that had been laid out on the table top.  It's spring time, and I wondered what was in store for us...

Flower tart - interesting that the pastry was made with tomato, with sundried tomatoes, roasted eggplant, miso, and edible flowers on top.

Olive spherification - a tribute to Uwe's time at el Bulli.

Potato krapfen - with sour cream, smoked caviar, and dill flower.  A nice bite.

Farmer hands: Uwe had gotten new ceramic hands made, but this time they shrank in size... and now looked like Donald Trump's hands!

Potatoes - new potatoes, herb pesto, coriander flowers.

Flowers / soil - the flower pot which is no longer presented in a pot.  With soil made of arugula, raisins, and coconut underneath baby carrots, breakfast radishes, and greens.  I didn't taste much of the Earl Grey dressing, though...  And my friend immediately recognized the origin of this dish...

Artichoke - Jerusalem artichoke with mushroom, edible sand, and puffed rice, with deep-fried Jerusalem artichoke chips on top.  Served on a trowel.

Globe artichoke marinated in lime, with wood sorrel and finger lime caviar.

Beetroot - a dish that Uwe put in front of my friend because he knew I wouldn't touch it.  From Dan Barber's Row 7.  The beetroot had been brined, smoked, and slowly dried for 3 weeks.  I have no idea how this dish tasted.

Foie gras: miso / grapes / sake - the foie was marinated in Hokkaido brown sugar and miso for 14 days before being made into a torchon.  Presented on a thin layer of sake gelée and sliced grapes, then topped with cocoa nibs and flowers.    Delicious.

Hokkaido milk bread - with some fleur de sel.  Meant to accompany the foie gras.  Fluffy and delicious.

Matcha tea: tea / tomato / basil - something that Uwe has been serving for a few years.  The freeze-dried basil powder in the bowl was mixed with filtered tomato water made with frozen marinated tomatoes from last season that had been left to drip through the filter for 5 days (!)

In any case, I have always loved this cold consommé.  Such purity of flavor.

Asparagus: German / egg / ham - the asparagus (Uwe didn't specify whether they came from his mom's garden, but I assumed they did) were poached then lightly grilled.  Garnished with thin discs of cooked jamón ibérico as well as discs made of egg and egg yolk.  I didn't mind it too much, but we were curious as to why the choice was made to cook the jamón.  But hey... maybe Germans like their ham cooked instead of cured...

Ratatouille: Tai O / pine nut - not exactly how Remy would do it, eh?  I jokingly objected to Uwe's description of this being 'traditional' when there's so much foam around.  The foam was made with pine nut-infused Hokkaido milk, and I could definitely taste the pine nuts.

Curiously they also added ground pine nuts in the ratatouille.  Maybe they thought it needed some texture, but I didn't find it necessary.

Noodle: potato / peas / board bean / brown butter / caviar - the spätzle came two ways: boiled and deep-fried, the latter of which was a surprise.  Served with peas, broad beans, and caviar.  Kinda interesting, I guess... and this was apparently Uwe's mom's version.

Langoustine: Norway / wasabi / yuzu - my friend immediately recognized the origin of this dish, and was surprised at how faithful a copy this was.  The langoustine came with some puffed rice underneath, and the condiment on the side was wasabi / yuzu mayo with burnt onion powder.

The langoustine itself was, of course, very nice... and the citrus mayo on the side was certainly an interesting combination.

Red prawn: Spain / grilled / garum - I can't believe Uwe told us that he gave us smaller specimens of the gambas rojas because he thought we had too much food tonight!  Doesn't he know me after all these years???

In any case, this was beautiful as usual.  What I didn't realize when Uwe mentioned on my last visit that these came from a "small fishing village north of Barcelona" was that the village in question was Roses - where el Bulli used to be.

The garum on the side was fermented in a Whisky barrel at 54.8° C for 6 weeks.  Uwe sure loves his fermentation... but I prefer the purity of the gambas on its own.

Amadai: Fukuoka / pork / clam - the tilefish (甘鯛) from Fukuoka (福岡) sat on top of a hunk of pork belly from Rhug Estate that had been braised for 72 hours, and came with clams from Fukuoka.  The sauce was made from the clams, the pork belly, and the fish.

I didn't really care for the clams, but the tilefish and the pork belly... MAN!

Suckling pig: Spanish / Racoff / mustard - 18-week-old Spanish suckling pig.  What's not to like?

Just awesome, paper-thin crackling.  I did find parts of the pig a little too dry, which was a shame.

The condiments on the side included a strong yuzukosho (柚子胡椒), a sweet mustard, a papaya/paprika mix, as well as smoked salt.  I tried the yuzukoshou, but the papaya/paprika mix was the most interesting.

Radicchio blistered with balsamic vinegar

Slow-cooked Roscoff onions with Comté cheese

Grilled lettuce

Banana: grilled / peanut / Whisky / charcoal - the marshmallow at the bottom came with peanut butter and chunks of Whisky jelly, with some grilled bananas on top as well as thin wafers of chocolate meringue.  The chocolate ice cream on the side was made with Whisky reduction.  A damn fine banana, chocolate, and Whisky dessert.

Finally we had the petits fours...

Passion fruit and lemon tarts - a little grainy in texture.

Chocolate and raspberries


My friend took a bottle of bubbly from the very reasonably-priced wine list at Ken's recommendation, while I brought along a casual red...

Paul Déthune Blanc de Noirs - yeasty nose.

1989 Le Petit Cheval - served without decanting.  Nice and smoky nose, with pencil lead.

It was, as usual, too much food for me. I did warn my friend that Uwe has made numerous attempts in the past to kill me with food, but thankfully he has yet to succeed.  This was an enjoyable meal for us, but I couldn't help but be disappointed that one particular dish did not make an appearance...

There is an inside joke among a small group of people about eating saures lüngerl - a dish popular in Bavaria made with offal (hence the name 'sour lung').  I jokingly told Uwe when I asked him for a table that he had three weeks to learn how to make the dish, and I really thought we would get it tonight.  But no joy.

After our dinner, I jokingly complained to Uwe about how disappointed I was.  That was when he told me that he had made 5 attempts to cook the dish, but just couldn't come up with something that he was happy to serve us.  Suddenly I felt terrible that I had - even jokingly - complained to my friend.  I was touched that he really did make an attempt to accommodate my ludicrous request, and that's a true sign of how much he values my friendship.

Thank you, my friend.

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