Sunday, December 16, 2012

Bo Innovation - Molecular Gastronomy

Prologue: Had always wanted to try out this restaurant ever since I saw the review on TV, but didn't have the chance until my visit to Hong Kong this year. Even then, we were quite close to having to give it a miss again (we rescheduled our booking three times) due to scheduling issues or having to find someone to babysit the kiddo. In the end, we did manage to visit the place and the experience was well worth it!

I'm sure many people would not be familiar with the terms "X-treme Chinese Cuisine" and "Molecular Gastronomy", and these are the 2 terms which give this restaurant its unique experience. Bo Innovation is a fine dining restaurant located in Wan Chai, Hong Kong that serves visually surprising Chinese Cuisine infused with a western flavor. The restaurant was invited for Savour 2012 held in Singapore, and I understand that they were invited again and will be participating in Savour 2013.

The term "X-treme Chinese Cuisine" is coined by its Executive Chef Alvin Leung, essentially to give a very new meaning to what Chinese food should look and taste like , while the term "Molecular Gastronomy" is defined in Wikipedia  as "a subdiscipline of food science that seeks to investigate, explain and make practical use of the physical and chemical transformations of ingredients that occur while cooking, as well as the social, artistic and technical components of culinary and gastronomic phenomena in general" [Source: Wikipedia]. Basically, my interpretation is this, you take a dish and cook it in a very different way, resulting in either (1) the resulting dish tasting very much like how it should be, but visually looking very different. or (2) resulting dish looking at a totally different dish, like watermelon caviar. in fact, the Lao Ban soy beancurd, and its countless clones, is likely the result of a "Molecular Gastronomy" experience

This is where the creativeness of Chef Alvin comes in - not only is he able to blend in a level of western influence into our everyday Chinese food, he then transform this food into a visually appealing treat. The result is something of what you see, what your perceived to taste, is not what it tasted a good way..

The Setting

Table for 2

Once you select one out of the three available set menus, a small leaflet will be given to you to refresh you on the dishes on the set.

A 13 Course Dinner. 

The restaurant's logo, which means "Devil Chef" in Chinese. The Executive Chef
calls himself the "Devil Chef" and has these words tattooed on his right arm. 

 The Food

For dinner, there are three set menus- a HKD$888 Tasting Menu consisting of a few appetizer sized items and a choice of a main course, a HKD$1388 Chef Menu which is essential a degustation menu, and a HKD$1888 Chef Table Menu which is the Chef Menu with 2 additional items. Within each set menu, there are additional dishes which you can supplement the selected menu at an additional cost. There is also an option to pair the dishes with wines selected by the wine sommelier at an additional cost of HKD$700. We choose the Chef Table Menu without the wine pairing.

Rather than giving you bread rolls, the chef decides to serve up Hong Kong Egg Waffle,
a snack commonly found on the streets of Hong Kong.
The difference in this - It has Ibérico Ham wrapped in it.

Oyster - Spring Onion, Lime, Ginger Snow, "Xiaoshing" Seaweed Jelly.
Spring onion, lime, ginger and Chinese Shao-xing wine are the common ingredients used
to steam fresh fish. The concept is to use these ingredients to cover the fishy smell.
Based on this concept, these ingredients have been given a makeover and used to accompany
a piece of fresh oyster. The spring onion and lime has been "caramelized" while the ginger
has been deep freeze until it becomes powdery. The seaweed jelly below the oyster readily
absorbs the oyster's juices and the ingredients, giving you a 2nd round of indulgence after eating
the oyster.

Cavair - Smoked Quail Egg, Crispy Taro
This should be the interpretation of the Fried Taro Dim Sum (芋角), which usually has fillings
of dice mushrooms, shrimp and pork and gives a taste of crispy outside and mashy inside. This
is how this dish taste, especially since the smoked egg gives that mashy texture.  The caviar enhances
the overall experience, bring a right balance of saltiness. 

Saba - Sesame, Ponzu Cloud, Ginger, Parfum de Hong Kong
Saba sashimi covered with a cloudy ponzu foam and what I tasted to be rose smell (the 'Parfum').
Can't really figure out the inspiration for this but its tasty nonetheless.

Setting for the next dish

Hairy Crab - Aged Chinkiang Vinegar
Its still the season for hairy crabs (大闸蟹) which explains why this dish is here. Hairy crab roe made in a smooth soufflé and after you scope out a bit of it, you can pour aged black vinegar inside, which is the common condiment to accompany hairy crabs. The resultant taste is like eating a foamy hairy crab without getting your hands dirty.
Bamboo - Bamboo Shoot, Foie Gras, 'Zhou Ye Qing" Liquor Miso, Pickled Indian Lettuce Stem
One of the Chinese dish is to stir fry bamboo shoots with meats, which provides a fine blend of crunchy bamboo shoots against the soft texture of meat. This should be what this dish aims to achieve, but rather than stir-frying, its done via steaming and pan-frying to retain the taste. What other meat is more softer than Foie Gras?

Tomato - Pat Chu Vinegar, Fermented Chinese Olives, "Lam Lok"

Molecular - Xiao Long Bao
The star dish of the restaurant, which was showcased in Savour 2012. Yup, this is really a Xiao Long doesn't look
like one but it tastes exactly like one, a very tasty one that is, including the flowing soup upon first bite. Basically its a very rich pork stock wrapped in a crystal skin, and they managed to freeze dry the red vinegar and ginger condiments into the thin red strip you see at the top.

Saga-Gyu Beef - Truffled Tendon, Daikon, Chinese Chive, Aromatic Consomme
Chef's interpretation of beef brisket hor-fun (牛腩河粉) - very rich and yummy stock accompanied by Wagyu beef and hor fun made from top quality floor.

Organic "Long Jiang" Chicken
Chef's interpretation of chicken rice, or more specifically, this version of chicken rice inspired from this stall called Long Jiang Chicken.  Clay pot containing organic chicken accompanied with 7 years aged acquerello rice cooked in a yellow chicken stock, topped with mushrooms and served with pure sand ginger sauce as the condiments.

The clay pot above serves 2.
Chinese almonds and cherry berry compote. Should be inspired from Almond Tofu.

Ying Yang
This is a very interesting interpretation of the famous Hong Kong drink call Ying Yang,
which normally is a mixture of coffee and tea. For this, the Chef serves the drink
with hot coffee (the darker color you see on the left) and cold milk tea (lighter
color on right). You can taste the distinct sensation of hot and cold on both sides
of your tongue when you take a sip. 

Shui Jing Fang
This dish contains a deep fried milk batter served with a banana form dipping. Can't help
wonder if he got the inspiration from goreng pisang

The end of the course with 8 petit dim-sum.

I would say that this was a very enjoyable meal and the restaurant is definitely worth a visit, just to enjoy the experience and feel the creativeness of the Chef.

Bo Innovation
Shop 13, 2/F, J Residence, 60 Johnston Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
(852) 28508371