June 14, 2019

Swedes serving swede

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Hello Kitty asked where she could take me for my birthday, so I started to think about restaurants I'm fond of but haven't visited in a while - and there were quite a lot of them.  Eventually I settled on Frantzén's Kitchen - a curious choice, perhaps, as their hearty dishes are probably more suited for cooler weather.  But I figured I needed to show Chef Jim Löfdahl and his team some love.

They've introduced a tasting menu since my last meal here, so we figured we could try that out.  We did ask for some modifications and extras to try out more dishes.

Bone marrow: caviar, chestnut and thyme - on top of the creamy and slightly grainy chestnut purée was a small quenelle of farmed Chinese schrenkii dauricus caviar which was less salted than usual.

Below the surface we had diced chunks of bone marrow, crunchy chestnuts, aspic, cubes of fermented mushrooms.  I definitely tasted the acidity from the aspic but the dish was a little salty.

French toast: summer truffle, balsamic vinegar, aged cheese and truffle tea - the signature dish.  A perennial crowd-pleaser.  Of course, when you dump a whole load of shaved truffle - in this case Tasmanian winter truffle - on top of anything, it's going to get a lot of love from people.  For me, though, it's always been the aged cheese that made the dish.  And those little dots of 25-year balsamico.

Truffle tea to accompany the toast.

White asparagus, walnut beurre blanc, morels, parsley and green onions - hmmm... not bad but not much magic here.  I didn't think the walnuts worked well with the dish - not only texture-wise but also they added bitterness.

Cold poached blue-lobster with tomato and peach "ceviche", black pepper, mint and herbs - the homard bleu from Normandy was poached in white wine brine at 51°C.  Served with tomato water with vanilla fragrance, almond mayonnaise, and Spanish peaches.

This was a very good dish.  The almond mayo was pretty interesting, and the verbena added a nice fragrance.  We got a nice contrast in textures between the lobster tail and the claw.  A good and refreshing summer dish.

Veal tartar, miso and hazelnut mayonnaise, deep fried brisket, chives and caviar - the French veal was hand-cut and came with some miso and hazelnut mayo that was just wonderful.  Onions pickled in ättika brought some acidity, which helped balance things with the presence of caviar on top.  Interesting to have crunchy bits of deep-fried brisket at the bottom for texture.  A really good dish with nice flavors from the veal itself, along with complex flavors from the caviar.

I didn't BYO, so I ended up picking something from the list.

2016 Ostertag Riesling Muenchberg - a little petrol, flinty, a little tropical stone fruit.  Leaner with higher acidity with a little bitterness mid-palate.  Later on the ripeness came out, and this was almost overripe and alcoholic when warmed up.

Cod, goat's cheese emulsion, rosemary, spinach, trout roe, pickled turnip and seaweed oil - from northern Norway.  Sitting in a beurre blanc and goat cheese emulsion with seaweed oil.  Love the texture of the cod, and there's nice acidity with the pickled turnip to help balance out the richness of the emulsion.  This was the version I preferred.

Caramelized cod, chicken reduction, yellow wine velouté, miso, eringi, and hazelnut - Jim made sure we got a comparison with the dish that was available à la carte.  Done with vin jaune from Jura, and topped with what Jim said were eringi mushrooms (but they looked more like ceps as mentioned on the menu).  This was very salty although the fragrant velouté did deliver some acidity.

Velouté: white onion, liquorice and smoked Marcona almonds - with caramelized onions.  Loved the sweetness and also the crunchy almonds.

We were offered a nice glass of Tokaji to pair with the velouté.

2015 Royal Tokaji Tokaji Late Harvest - honey, orange blossom, with a little residual sugar.

Venison, fermented sweet potato purée, juniper jus, quince compote and orange peel - the venison came from an area near Wanaka, New Zealand.  Very lean.  Very tasty.  Loved the candied orange peel on top.

A5 Miyazaki wagyu - grilled over binchotan (備長炭), with endive marinated in white soy sauce, mirin (味醂), hazelnut oil, and honey.  The quenelle was purée of rutabaga which, apparently, is also known as 'swede'.  The joke of being served swede by a Swede wasn't lost on me...  The sauce was made with chicken and rowanberries.

The wagyu was more cooked than I had expected, but this turned out to be better for really fatty beef.  The endive was salty but somehow had an amazing citrus fragrance which reminded us of yuzu (柚子).

We were once again offered a glass of red to go with our red meat. I love Ridge Geyserville. Zinfandel is such an underrated grape.

2016 Ridge Geyserville - initial whiff smelled like paint thinner with banana notes.  Then lots of coconut butter, very oaky, very sweet, with leather notes.

We were first served this dessert topped with a dome made of meringue.  Lifting the dome revealed a matcha sorbet sitting in cloudberry curd, with sea buckthorn ointment and cloudberry granita.

Toasted sesame ice cream, grilled marshmallows and salted plum sauce - the sesame ice cream was good, as were the little cubes of marshmallows.  The sauce was kinda interesting.

"Spicy red", preserved strawberries, pink peppercorn, vanilla - there was am oat tuile on top with strawberry and pink peppercorn powder and rose petals.  Underneath we've got a layer of soft meringue and strawberry parfait, preserved strawberries which were absolutely delish.  Strange, though, that I couldn't detect any hint of pink peppercorns.

This was a very, very happy meal.  After my last visit, I joked about having Swedish winter dishes in the hot Hong Kong summer.  I'm glad that while the rich dishes were still here - and still delicious - the kitchen had introduced a few cool, refreshing dishes for the season.  Many thanks to Jim for taking good care of us.  I really should visit more often...

P.S.  As much as I loved this meal, I was a little bummed that they stopped serving us the knäckebröd with killer beurre noisette.  I guess they got tired of people like me asking for seconds and thirds of something that they offered without charge...

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