June 13, 2023

Golden trumpet

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V has been away from Hong Kong for the last 3 years, and naturally hasn't visited most of the restaurants which had only opened up during this time. We were talking about the city's Italian restaurants a few nights ago, and I suggested that we come to Estro for a meal. I've become quite a fan of the Juve Fan, and I'm only too happy to introduce his cuisine to more of my friends.

I was determined that we should have more of a taste of what the restaurant can deliver than the very restrained performance last month, so we opted for dinner. Which also meant we could do this with more wine.

Since I didn't show up wearing a Napoli jersey, Andrea and Marco were so happy that they very kindly offered us some negroni. A nice way to start our dinner.

First we have the aperitivo:

Compressed carrot roll with orange, orange emulsion - always surprised when I feel the crunch, before remembering that the carrot "ribbon" has been compressed.

Purple potato tuile with honey pea bon bon

Crunchy burrata baba - with some asparagus on top.

Green apple, fennel, and lemon juice

Scallop | pistachio, capers, citrus - the scallops from Hokkaido have been pan-fried at the bottom while the tops have been left raw. Topped with an emulsion, lemon gel, and Sicilian Pantelleria caper leaf. This was very nice and refreshing, with just enough acidity from the lemon gel. The pistachio sauce on the side was just right, not too heavy.

Mussels “Gemmina” | prawn, pork “lardo”, parsley - once again the Hokkaido mussels are stuffed with a variety of ingredients including sourdough bread. As always, the highlight of this signature dish for me was the lardo, although I have to admit that I really don't care for mussels all that much...

Ink scialatielli | aori-ika squid, leek - BABY, THIS IS WHAT YOU CAME FOR. I didn't get to have this on my last visit, so I made sure Juve Fan gave me a portion tonight. And this turned out to be the "upgraded" version to make it black-on-white-on-black. On the bottom we have some ink scialatielli that has been cooked in a combination of squid broth and leek broth, then finished with some leek purée, garlic oil, and chili. Topped with "noodles" made of raw bigfin reef squid (アオリイカ) seasoned with some oregano. Finally, a dollop of Kaviari Kristal caviar.

Juve Fan really has a way of making his pasta stand out, and this one was no exception. I have no doubt that this would have been delicious enough without the caviar, but I'm happy to report that in this instance, adding the eggs did not detract from the original dish itself. One plus one was not less than two.

Bottoni | broccoli, sardine, bottarga - this would be my second time tasting the newest version of the signature bottoni, and I'm just as impressed with the broccolini purée inside - with its "green" flavors and slight bitterness on top of the rich and creamy texture - as the first time I tasted it. Garnishing with a tiny sliver of sardine and powdered bottarga was a nice touch.

Turbot | zucchini "trombeta", Amalfi lemon - from afar I could see the reflection of gold foil coming from the kitchen, so I walked up to see what was happening. Juve Fan actually had the gall to tell me that "It's not for you!" But of course that was a lie.

The turbot from Brittany has suddenly become a sideshow, which was a little unfortunate. Vermentino was used in the reduction made with roasted mushroom stock and Amalfi lemon juice.

The large piece of zucchini had been wrapped in gold foil once, and after laying smaller pieces of zucchini and Amalfi lemon zest on top, another layer of gold foil was added to cover it all. I've never been so happy. Oh and I love the kaffir lime here, too.

Lamb | fava beans, Swiss chard, honey peas, fennel pollen jus - this has quickly become one of my favorite lamb in town, as it's just so young and succulent. Love how tasty the fat is. The Swiss chard "roll" with sweet and crunchy peas inside is just as good. The fava bean purée was also a nice addition.

Nocciola - hazelnut parfait, mousse, crumble, and chips... together with Amalfi lemon gel.

Finally, we have the "sweet endings":

Tirasimu sphere

Ricotta and pear tart

Pistachio gelato

We were pretty civilized and just had a bottle each of white and red.

2000 Trimbach Riesling Clos Sainte Hune - served almost immediately after opening. Good nose of petrol, but more oxidized than expected. Acidity was not so sharp here. Second pour around 40 minutes after opening, and the wine was colder and showed more polyurethane. Still more sweet and rounded than expected. Pretty nice.

2001 Dujac Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Aux Combottes - served almost 1½ hours after opening. Nose of leather and animal. About 2 hours after opening the wine was lean and grippy. Pretty decent, but not enough luscious fruit to make me love it.

Pretty happy with dinner tonight, and it's always good to see Juve Fan and his team. Can't believe I've already been here 4 times this year...

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