September 14, 2019

Night out with Koreans

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I've been pretty damn busy at work this year, so I've had to pass up a few opportunities to travel.  I was pretty crushed about not being able to join a group of friends in Seoul last week, because I was really, really looking forward to going to the new Born and Bred.  A few of us had a fantastic dinner at the original location two years ago, when I almost died from the massive amount of food we were fed that evening.  Going back with a few more friends would have been totally awesome.

When The Man in White T-shirt messaged me from Seoul the next day, telling me that owner 30K was coming to Hong Kong for a few days and asking me to join them at Neighborhood, I was naturally excited at the prospect of meeting up with the boss again.

Just about the first thing I noticed after stepping foot in the restaurant was this giant tray of porcini.

Hello Kitty couldn't resist picking up a big one.  Being the clumsy one, of course she ended up breaking it...

Pretty soon we would be treated to the inevitable procession of house specialties and seasonal dishes.  I've "only" dined here twice in the last month, but I'm always game for what comes out of this kitchen!

Besides the "usual" combo of Basque saucisson "Noire de Bigorre" and culatello di zibello "Massimo Spigaroli", The Man in White T-shirt also treated us to something very special... smoked goat sausage that he carried back from Håøya Island on his recent trip to Norway.  Very intense and smoky.  A real treat!

Sardines / Jerez vinegar - this is always, always delicious... The local sardines were so, so fatty.

As usual I put one of the strips on the bread from Daniel Calvert.  Just a perfect combination.

Fried padron pepper / bottarga - the pimientos de Padrón were nice, as usual, but the addition of thin slices of house-cured bottarga was interesting.

Mochida tomato / salted plum / peach - always one of the more interesting dishes to have towards the front half of dinner... ripe and sweet tomatoes from Mochida Farms (持田農園).  Tonight we went back to having them with crunchy slices of peaches.  What makes the dish amazing, as always, is the use of salted plum powder that just brings out the sweetness from the tomatoes.

Pâté de foie gras / figs - now THIS I have not seen here before... Very old school pâté de foie gras, with that layer of yellow fat - the kind that you see in places like L'Ami Louis.   Seasoned with some cracked pepper.

Naturally, I put my piece on yet another piece of bread...  Just.So.Good.

Buffalo chicken wings / Roquefort - always happy to have this, but I didn't need the dip tonight.

Morisseau mussels / girolle mushroom / curry - curry just works with mussels, and tonight we also had some beautiful girolles thrown in along with the parsley and chives.

Porcini / eggs - so THIS is what you do with that whole tray of fresh porcini... cut them up and serve over a bed of beautiful, runny scrambled eggs.  I can't think of a more beautiful way of having these mushrooms.

Soupe de poisson / mandarin peel - I have been a big fan of the fish soup or bouillabaisse from The Man in White T-shirt for many years, and in the last couple of years he's upgraded by using Chinese dried mandarin peel (陳皮) to add that distinctive fragrance to the mix.  Rich and delicious.

Dry aged Rubia Gallega steak / Aubrac onglet / bone marrow / caviar - I had been wondering whether The Man in White T-shirt would actually serve beef to someone who runs one of the world's best beef restaurants - in our opinion, anyway... so we have the answer...  But 30k confessed that he doesn't have a lot of opportunity to eat non-Hanwoo beef, so I guess this is actually a nice change for him.

I wasn't surprised that he didn't care for the Aubrac onglet.  It's decent but not special enough.  The Rubia Gallega, though, isn't something they get a lot of in Korea.  Especially not old cattle with extended dry-aging.  Love it.

Oh and I made sure our Korean visitors had plenty of that roasted bone marrow with caviar.  According to The Man in White T-shirt, the chef responsible for putting these two ingredients together is none other than Ferran Adrià - back in 1992.  Since 30k's butchery business goes through more than 100 heads of cattle a day, he has no shortage of bones.  Maybe I'll be able to enjoy some bone marrow and caviar on my next visit to Born and Bred.

Mashed potato gratin - this was made with Raclette on top.  Yum...

Salt baked chicken rice / yellow wine / porcini - I caught a glimpse of the boss furiously hand-shredding porcini earlier, and now I know why.  This dish is always, always so delicious... although tonight the rice was on the wet side, which meant we didn't get much crunchy socarrat at the bottom.

Warm vegetables casserole / lardon / truffle vinaigrette - a little veg at the end, with a dish that's not strictly vegetarian thanks to the lardon.  Those peas were amazingly sweet!

I was so full... so I didn't touch any of the delicious cheese that was brought in front of us.


We were entertaining visitors from Korea, so naturally we brought a few bottles of wine to start with...

2010 Lucien Le Moine Corton Blanc - initially pretty closed so the wine was decanted.  Opened later and showed a little toasty nose, with a ripe palate, and surprisingly almost a hint of coconut.  Later the toasty notes became more prominent.  Both bottles drank well.

2001 Joseph de Bucy Meursault 1er Cru Les Bouchères - more mature and ripe than the Corton.  Sweeter nose with Chinese licorice, and a little flinty.

1986 Ducru-Beaucaillou - first bottle was served more than 1½ hours after decanting.  Smoky with a slight hint of green grass.  Classic Saint-Julien.  Really opened up after 2½ hours in the decanter.  Always a pleasure to drink this wine.  Second bottle was served after more than 1½ hours in decanter.

OF COURSE 5 bottles of wine between us wasn't enough.  Not when there are Koreans in the group.  The ladies went home while the boys adjourned to a bar and kept going...

Pappy Van Winkle's Family Reserve 15 Year - lots of vanilla and caramel.  Very sweet nose.

2004 Moët et Chandon Cuvée Dom Pérignon - nice and toasty nose.  Ripe on the palate.

I was very happy to catch up with 30k in Hong Kong.  We had talked about this when we first met in Seoul, and it finally happened two years later!  Here's hoping that we will see more of him... in Korea as well as around these parts.

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