Thursday, February 28, 2013

Oysters and caviar at Bo Innovation in Hong Kong, one of Asia's best restaurants

Our second course of caviar at Bo Innovation.
This was one my many favorites.


I really like Bo Innovations a lot, both for their ideas on food, the great and fun service, and the overall dining experience. They take their cooking very seriously, but the end-result isn't serious at all

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Each time I'm there, I encounter a wonderful meal and a great group of people who smile and joke around a lot while still serving meticulously prepared food that borders on molecular gastronomy. It probably is molecular gastronomy. 

But since -- unlike in places like Fat Duck where I struggle to recognize what's on my plate -- most of the dishes still feel like food to me, I hesitate to label this as molecular gastronomy


LOVE AT FIRST BITE

I've liked this place since the very first visit. 

I'm especially impressed with the wine pairings that accompany the 15-course tasting dinner (yes, 15 courses!) because none of it is particularly expensive, but they really are picked so carefully to complement the food.

Because we were seated at the counter,
everyone took very good care of us,
and took time to talk to us and make sure we had a good time.
The counter seats are highly recommended for foodies.


HONG KONG'S AND ASIA'S BEST

Bo Innovations was recently chosen as one of Asia's Best Restaurants by the S. Pellegrino. It's #15 on the list. 

So I'm reprinting an entry from my dinner here last December, for readers thinking of heading for Hong Kong for some very good food.

A GREAT EVENING AT BO INNOVATION




One cool December night, in Hong Kong living a TRAVELIFE, we had a huge dinner at Bo Innovation in the neighborhood of Wanchai. I had dinner here earlier this year, and then I enjoyed the tasting course very much.

So, on this most recent trip, when someone asked me where I wanted to eat on my last night in Hong Kong, this is where I chose to have dinner.

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Bo Innovation is a famous and multi-awarded restaurant with a brave and ambitious chef and an extremely hardworking staff.

It's in a very gentrified section of somewhat generally rundown Wanchai, surrounded by new or refurbished buildings with very nice restaurants and just a few minutes away from the Cantonese dining institution Fook Lam Moon.



They've had two Michelin stars for a long time now, and now they've just made it to the top of the list of Hong Kong's best restaurants and Asia's best restaurants, as deemed by the S Pellegrino.

The Chef's Table menu at Bo Innovation:
15 wonderful courses over three hours.
If you eat here, you should definitely do this.

Molecular gastronomy is so difficult to make compared to most other types of cuisine, so you really have to appreciate their efforts whether you're a fan of molecular gastronomy or not.

And what makes Chef Alvin Leung's concept very different from others is the fact that he uses local ingredients and Chinese techniques as much as possible. So it's a really local and unique molecular gastronomy experience, in this sense.

That's our first course,
being prepared right in front of us.

Understandable, this is quite a controversial restaurant because it's pretty extreme in its experimental cuisine. You either love it or you don't, and I'm firmly on the "LIKE" side. 

For me, this is experimental but it's still pretty palatable stuff compared to the extreme experimentation of Heston Blumenthal of Fat Duck or Ferran Adria of El Bulli, before it closed temporarily.

Instead of table bread, we had the equivalent of a local savory hot cake.
It was baked with mustard for a slightly spicy taste.
Fresh from the oven.


Here's  a close-up.
It's fantastic freshly baked,
although locals have it sweet rather than savory.


FIVE HOURS AT THE TABLE
AND I DON'T FEEL I'VE EATEN

At Fat Duck, I never felt I had properly eaten even if I'd sat through multi-course meals for five hours. But it's one of those things you have to do every so often, if you fancy yourself a foodie, because it really changes your perceptions of eating and food.

Whereas at Bo Innovation, you feel your perceptions of food and your senses are being challenged, but not in a negative way. It's a very pleasant experience and this is why I was back here again for dinner on Monday night.

Our first course of a single plump oyster (along with some other people's orders)
was prepared right in front of us.
It takes a brave kitchen to make everything
in full and such intimate view of the customers.


We had the 15-course Chef's Table tasting menu. Yes, you read right. 15 courses, although mostly small portions, of course, so that we were full but not uncomfortably so at the end of it all.

We also decided to have the wine pairing course to go along with it, and so we must have tried about 12 different types of alcohol to go with our meal.

The sommelier pours the first of our 12 glasses or so of wine.


The wines for the pairing course at Bo Innovation are very well thought out, by the way, to ensure that they go excellently with the food. If you read this blog, you'll know that we're in great restaurants all the time, and we're often doing wine pairings with meals.

But this year, the wine pairing at Bo Innovation is among the most enjoyable I've had in 12 months of countless wine and food pairings -- and I've already had Bo Innovation's wine pairing on two occassions. (The other very enjoyable food and wine pairing this year was the very fancy Chateau Margaux dinner organized by Bacchus recently at the Makati Shangri-la...)

LOTS OF THOUGHT INTO THE WINES

We started with a lovely sparkling wine from Italy...
really perfect with the oyster.

I'm sure the wines aren't crazily expensive on an individual basis, but they were so obviously chosen very carefully to enhance each course.

Taken together as a 15-course meal with accompanying wines, this is certainly not an inexpensive meal. But I think it's worth the bill because of its so enjoyable and yet an out-of-the-box experience.

That's one of the kitchen staff
putting the finishing touches on the 2nd course:
a beautifully arranged caviar dish.


Instead of sitting at a table, or outside in the terrace under heat lamps as I'd done on my first visit, my friend had reserved two seats at the counter so that we could see all the action -- and we really enjoyed having the chefs and the counter all to ourselves.

We could talk to everyone and see most of our dishes being made. What a fun evening that was.

One of the two Filipino chefs at Bo Innovation
baking the "bread" right in front of us.


1st COURSE: A SINGLE OYSTER



To start, we had a single plump and juicy oyster, sprinkled with spring onion, lime, ginger powder and seaweed jelly.

I just love oysters so this was a big winner with me.

That's the oyster again, being sprinkled with ginger powder



2ND COURSE: CAVIAR



Our second course was a smoked quail egg -- we could really taste the smokiness, and it went so well with the quail egg -- wrapped in a crispy taro shell and topped with a caviar of an excellent quality. This was one of my favorite dishes because it was so decadent.

To be continued in the next blog entries...we did have 15 courses after all!



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