December 30, 2022

A last surprise before 2022 ends

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My first encounter with Chef Sung Anh was a brief one. We happened to attend a cooking demonstration by Jeong Kwan (正寬) sunim together at Baekyangsa Temple (白羊寺). DaRC and the City Foodsters knew him as they lived in the Bay Area, and they mentioned he was planning to open a restaurant in Seoul. I may or may not have introduced myself before the class started, but I know he would have no recollection of meeting me.

Five years later, his restaurant Mosu in Seoul now boasts three macarons, and he's also opened up a Mosu here in Hong Kong on the rooftop of M+. Due to staffing issues as well as the pandemic restrictions, the number of covers being served at Mosu Hong Kong has been on a reduced basis - which made it one of the toughest tables to score in town since the restaurant opened. I've tried to make a booking from time to time, but have never been able to see any openings on the booking website.

A couple of weeks ago, a friend who has been going there fairly regularly asked me whether I would be interested in taking over a reservation tonight. One of their friends is giving up a 4-top, and my friend thought I'd be interested. I didn't have any plans and it wouldn't be difficult to find others who haven't had a chance to try the place. So here we are.

Jasmine tea - made with perilla and Korean rice wine. The jasmine was certainly very fragrant, but this was also very fruity and citrusy. Nice way to start our meal.

Gim (김) cup - with potato salad and salmon roe marinated in yuja (유자). The flavors of the toasted laver was pretty nice, and needless to say, the elegant fragrance of the yuja/yuzu zest lingered in one's mouth.

Radish tart - fermented radish jelly, radish marinated in Korean (rice) wine, topped with powder made from radish greens, all served on an almond tart shell. The acidity of the jelly and radish certainly came through, while the pastry was sweet like a butter cookie.

Chargrilled abalone taco - we've got a taco shell made of charcoal-grilled tofu skin, with a piece of charcoal-grilled Korean abalone as the main filling, topped with shredded perilla leaves, laver, and mustard seeds. Curious that the little wedge of lime was also charcoal-grilled... I guess the lime juice also had a smoky flavor?

The abalone was incredibly tender, as I would have expected. The thin taco shell was crispy and delicate. The flavors of the perilla and laver were also front-and-center. A very good way to build up to the first course.

Matcha tofu in dashi - the tofu dish was arguably the most-Instagrammed dish from the restaurant, and now that the chef has paid a recent visit from Korea, it has been updated so that the sesame tofu now comes with the distinct flavors of Japanese matcha. Topped with a dab of wasabi and some gold, and served with some dashi (出汁) which also tasted of soy sauce.

We still had sea urchin inside. To be very honest, this was such a let down. Another example where, just because a dish looks pretty on social media, it doesn't mean the dish is actually tasty. Yes, the tofu looks cute pretending to be a dumpling, but let's be honest... the combination of sea urchin, wasabi, dashi/soy sauce... isn't anything special. In fact, it's downright ordinary for anyone who eats enough Japanese food.

Rockfish, porridge, Jinhua ham - not sure which kind of rockfish, but perhaps Korean rockfish (조피볼락)? The fish was pretty succulent, while the porridge made with Korean rice and chicken consommé also came with thin strands of Jinhua ham (金華火腿).

Mackerel, tomato, cucumber - our server told us that the fish was cooked with the 'over-roast' method... We've got pickled cucumber adding acidity to the sauce made with tomato and butter, which worked very well.

But MAN! What an amazing piece of fish! This obviously came from a big one, because the cut was thicker than any other piece of mackerel I can remember. The fish was pretty fatty, very succulent, and very smoky with a beautiful glaze on top. Very, very nice execution here. Even Four Sheets commented on how much she liked this.

Ember roasted acorn noodle - here we go... a dish covered in slices of winter black truffle from France.

Below the truffle we find the restaurant's signature acorn noodles, cooked with butter, Parmesan, and Korean parsley. I wondered if I tasted a little bit of alcohol in the sauce. Very rich and satisfying, and the sauce tasted not dissimilar to what I'd find at 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana.

Venison, parsnip cake, dabang coffee - the venison itself was fine, but I couldn't taste any coffee flavors in the dabang (다방) coffee sauce other than some bitterness. The slices of jujube were marinated in vinegar so there was some acidity. The parsnip sponge cakes tasted a little sweet, but the surprise was the really fragrant and tasty olive oil that it came with. The orange and green coulis was sweet like honey, and we've also got a fermented carrot on the side.

Lemon rice cake - the rice cake encased in sweetened lemon zest was made with makgeolli (막걸리), so this was pretty fragrant.

The almond foam came with Korean sesame oil, which was an interesting mix between the strong almond flavors as well as the fragrance of sesame oil, and taste-wise both sweet and savory.

Laver choux - with laver-flavored cream as well as laver jam.

Caramel ice cream - good depth of crème brûlée flavors from the rich ice cream, sprinkled with scallion ash on top and burnt leek powder on the side. The powder was savory and very nice, and this contrasted very well with the sweet ice cream.

Yakgwa (약과) - fried dough with honey and ginger syrup. Very nice and loved the honey.

We decided to take it easy and only brought 2 bottles tonight. As I was bringing Champagne, I decided since we were dining at M+, THERE COULD BE ONLY ONE!

2012 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin La Grande Dame Yayoi Kusama Edition, dégorgée fevrier 2020 - a nice bit of yeast on the nose, and very nice and perfumed.

2008 Solaia - served 2 hours after decanting. Wow! Nice with lots of coconut butter, very sweet on the nose, and also smoky and minty.

This was a very interesting and enjoyable meal, with a couple of real surprises. It's too bad seats are so hard to come by - thanks to the continued capacity reduction - because I really would like to come back some time in 2023...

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