As you would have seen from previous posts, we are at the beginning of a month-long culinary journey around the globe and we have just started our adventure in the great city of Hong Kong. We are hoping to find amazing food in a variety of places, from world-renown, Michelin-starred restaurants, to simple but tasty street food. And our journey begins with Bo Innovation, the irreverent and leading edge Chinese molecular restaurant on Hong Kong Island.
As you can see from above, Chef Alvin Leung is not lacking in confidence or self-promotion! That said, it's obvious that his style permeates the décor, interior style, and staff personalities in so many ways. To be honest, this is 2 Michelin star dining the way we like it - relaxed but precise, loud yet refined, simple yet amazingly complex. From the moment we entered we felt right at home. The staff spent so much time visiting our table, finding out where we were from, what we were doing in HK, etc. The head waiter even took the initiative to write in Chinese what we should order from the street markets the following night.
We like a restaurant like this where we can laugh with the staff and share stories. One of the funniest points of the night was when we asked one of the waiters if he had any other suggestions in the city for the next couple nights his response was, "I'm not sure. I'm really not a foodie.". Hilarious!
All that said, at the end of the day it's all about the food. And we were not disappointed in any way. It all started with a mini spring onion dumpling in a crispy package - all reminiscent of the food we have seen at the various food stalls in the city.
To loosen things up and get us started we were presented a Mao Tai Sour in a classic Chinese-emperor style goblet. And yes, that's not a typo - it's a "Mao" Tai sour, using a special kind of Chinese alcohol. We could already sense something special was happening.
Next was a sesame cured mackerel in "chinkiang" vinegar. It was served on a silver plate that billowed sesame infused "smoke". I say that I as I am pretty sure it actually was liquid nitrogen bubbling away underneath and not real smoke. But it smelled amazing. And the reason there's only one in the shot? The waiter was so animated in his description of the dish that he knocked the other one off the platter! He was thoroughly embarrassed but we loved his enthusiasm. All a good laugh.
The chili paste in the "Dan Dan Noodles" has to be one of our favourite flavours from the night. It was paired with noodles and some infused apple. We were seconds from licking our platters clean when they were whisked away. Thank goodness as we would have looked like idiots!
Following was a molecular "Xiao Long Bao" which was a spherified liquid that tasted just like street pork buns. To be honest, this was the only truly "molecular" dish in the traditional sense. I'm not sure where the criticism comes from but the dishes were just incredible creations, not gimmicky at all. The three tomato dish, with one infused in vinegar, one in fermented Chinese olives, and one as a marshmallow was fantastic. Just be careful of the big tomato - the Gourmet Female tried to bite hers in half and it blew up all over her part of the table!
We started to get into the larger dishes with "Red Fish" and mandarin peel, shiitake, and potato. The dish was just incredibly smooth and luxurious. it felt familiar but at the same time amazing.
We like to think we are adventurous eaters and for the most part we are. Usually, though, it's better for us to understand what we've eaten after the fact rather than beforehand and getting a little anxious as to whether we'll enjoy. The sweatbreads with oyster sauce and artichoke definitely intimated the Gourmet Female but we went for it and were not disappointed! And I have to say, if you ever have a chance to taste an oyster leaf do it. The taste is incredible.
Rock lobster with sichuan hollandaise, chilli, and charred corn was next, which was followed by the main, "Long Jiang" chicken. The rice in the chicken dish was delightful and smooth. The chicken was some of the best chicken we have ever had. And unlike some other degustation dishes we've had the portion size was just perfect.
To finish things off we started to get into the desserts. Except the first dessert sounds nothing like what you'd expect. It was "Goldenpin", which is chicken with Chinese cloud fungus. You start by taking a bit of the dried crispy chicken skin, which was so crunchy and salty. Could this really be a dessert? Oh yes, dear Gourmet Male readers, it was. It had ice cream and sweet mushrooms. It was also one of the most interesting and tasty desserts I have ever had.
Next was "Baijui", which had lemon curd, chocolate ganache, and banana on caramel. When the waiter returned we jokingly asked, "That's not it, is it?!". To our amazement it certainly wasn't... things finished up with eight different treasures. Mandarin peel with chocolate truffle, rose macaron with lychee, red date marshmallow, and chrysanthemum crème brulee were all part of the fun.
Now, I've tried to limit the length of the articles by skipping some photos but this is one you just have to see. We were talking about checking out the street markets the next night and that we were excited about what we could find but a bit nervous that we can't speak Cantonese. What did the head waiter do for us? He asked what types of seafood we like and then hand crafted this:
Thank you, Chef. We had the meal of a lifetime.