Pied à Terre, London – Introducing Andy

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Pied à Terre
34 Charlotte Street
London W1T 2NH
Tel. 020 76361178

Food type: French

Nearest tube: Tottenham Court Road

Website: Pied-à-Terre

I was in London for the day for an update course at the Royal Society of Medicine. Having paid £40 for my train ticket I thought it would have been a good idea to have dinner in London as well. Given the central location of the Royal Society of Medicine, there were options aplenty. I decided to revisit Pied à Terre where they have a new head chef in place. I have not revisited Pied à Terre since Marcus Eaves left (to head up the kitchen at Oblix) late last year. He has been replaced by the L’Autre Pied’s head chef, Andy McFadden who was previously sous chef under Shane Osbourne at Pied à Terre. I have eaten at L’Autre Pied when Andy was head chef there although I was not very impressed with the cooking there. It was certainly tasty and well cooked, but just lacking magic. I do appreciate however the fact that he was leading a kitchen where the chefs are generally less experienced and there is a greater restriction placed on food costing. Having given Andy sufficient time to settle back into his ‘new’ kitchen and imposing his cooking style on his menu, a revisit was very much called for.

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Andy & His Brigade

We were first to arrive for our early (6pm) table. In fact for a good hour or so we were the only people in the main dining room. We were recognised by the the front of house staff upon arrival even with Matthieu not around this evening. I’m very impressed with the staff retention at Pied à Terre where most of the front of house staff were familiar faces. In London’s restaurant business, the turnaround of front of house staff is very high so David Moore must clearly be doing something right to be able to retain his staff. Restaurant manager Julien offered to arrange a surprise tasting menu for us which we took him up on.

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Tin Lung Heen, Hong Kong – Gilding the Lily

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Tin Lung Heen
Ritz Carlton Hotel,
ICC, 1 Austin Road West, Kowloon,
Hong Kong, China
Tel: (852) 2850 8371

Cuisine: Cantonese

Nearest tube: Kowloon

Website: Tin Lung Heen

Tin Lung Heen was a relatively late addition to our dining itinerary. I had knowingly kept an afternoon free so we could go to Ocean Park. However, my fiancee decided that she was not keen to revisit Yan Toh Heen and so after moving some bookings around, I had an open slot to fit in a visit somewhere. I was deciding between here and Duddell’s (which would have been easier to get to, as we were staying in Central. In the end, I opted for Tin Lung Heen on the recommendation of my sister who has had two excellent meals here.

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Table Setting

The restaurant is located within the Ritz Carlton Hotel. To get there you will need to take an elevator to the top of the ICC building where the hotel lobby is located before riding an escalator one floor down to the restaurant level. Tin Lung Heen shares the same floor as fellow Michelin starred restaurant, Tosca with both restaurant having stunning panoramic views of Hong Kong island and the peninsula. Unlike many hotel restaurants, the dining room has very high ceilings with the walls mounted with precious bottles of Chinese liquor. The restaurant were kind enough to accommodate our request to be sat by the window.

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Bo Innovation, Hong Kong – UnBOlievable

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Bo Innovation
Shop 13, 2/F J Residence,
60 Johnston Road,
Wan Chai, Hong Kong, China
Tel: (852) 2850 8371

Cuisine: Modern Chinese

Nearest tube: Wan Chai

Website: Bo Innovation

I have to admit, visiting Bo Innovation was never been top of my list whenever I go to Hong Kong. And I have visited Hong Kong plenty of times. Even when the restaurant was promoted to 3-stars, I still did not get the urge to visit. I think part of it was because of the reviews I have read on the internet stating how bad the restaurant is, how undeserving the restaurant was and that Michelin had gone completely bonkers. The other reason perhaps is that chef Alvin Leung is one cocky bastard. Others would say he is self-confident. He has given himself the moniker of ‘Demon Chef’ (he even has it tattooed on his arm in Chinese) and dubbed the style of cooking here X-treme. I think it is easier for people to like a chef who is humble than one who is full of it. And then, there is of course his restaurant in London which was a complete, abject failure. Even though it received a Michelin star, Bo London closed less than 1 year after opening.

More recently however, the blog write-ups of Bo Innovation have been more positive. Some were even glowing. Plus you know, he did get the thumbs up from Bourdain at some point in the restaurant’s existence. As such, I decided to bite the bullet and have a punt at a meal here. If I was going to give this restaurant a shot, the only way was to go for the chef’s table and the full works tasting menu. Admittedly this is a huge punt with the chef’s table menu priced at HKD$2,380. That’s £215 with today’s abysmal exchange rate.

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Restaurant Entrance

Finding the restaurant is tricky business in itself. Although the official address lists the restaurant as being on Johnston Road, the actual entrance is actually located on Ship Street. There is a very small (and I mean very small) sign post (located opposite Akrame restaurant) which directs you to an elevator that takes you up to the restaurant. It is easily missed. You almost feel a sense of achievement just getting to the restaurant.

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The Best of 2015

A very Happy New Year to all readers. I do apologise for the lack of post for the month of December – it has been a very busy month for me but hopefully I will be able to dedicate more time to the blog with the holiday season now over. This would be a good opportunity to highlight the top 10 best dishes I have had the absolute pleasure of eating in 2015.

In no particular order they are:

#1 ‘Umami’ at Bo Innovation, Hong Kong

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Umami – Toro, Har Mi Oil, Mixed Noodles, “Wok Air” Powder

Our entire meal at Bo Innovation was awe inspiring but for us, this was the dish which captured the spirit and essence of what the restaurants is all about. A dish made of various elements high in umami including the staple Cantonese ingredient of dehydrated shrimp or har mi which is infused into an oil as well as used to make the glass noodles. On the side, an innovative ‘wok air’ powder is made from burnt leeks to evoke the taste of noodles which are wok fried. This may seem like a random collection of ingredients but tasting it was truly magical.

#2 Yeasted Cauliflower at the Typing Room, London

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Yeasted cauliflower, raisins, capers & mint

It is a testament to Lee Wescott’s skill as a chef that I have an entirely vegetarian dish on the list. I am a big fan of cauliflower and the love and attention that is given to this humble vegetable deserves special mention. A lot of loving care is taken in caramelising the cauliflower resulting in an almost beefy flavour. This is a dish that could almost convince me to give up meat entirely.

 

#3 Sushi at Sushi Shikon, Hong Kong

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Akagai Sushi

For a true sushi-ya experience outside Japan, you cannot go wrong with a trip to Sushi Shikon. To replicate the whole experience from Tokyo even the water and coal is flown in daily from Japan! Sure this is reflected in the final bill (which is very chunky). The rice here is heavily vinegar and served very loose which is how I like my sushi. For me the best of the lot was the akagai (surf clam) prepared in the traditional way to induce the reflex curling to ensure the shellfish had a crunchy texture to it.

#4 Hare at Caprice, Hong Kong

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Le Lièvre de la Beauce – Sautéed Saddle of Hare, Legs à la Royale, Celeriac Parmentier

Hare a la royale is one of my favourite dishes when it is done well. I was very impressed with the version served at Caprice which was more of a modern interpretation of the classic dish. A saddle of hare is served with a very rich sauce made from the hare’s blood while the legs were slow braised in the traditional style. The chef has smartly lightened the dish up with some celeriac to ensure this rich dish is not overwhelming.

#5 Mangalica Pork at Tippling Club, Singapore

Mangalica Pork Collar, Nuka Vegetables, Nori, Cinnamon Infused Dashi, Pickled Sesame

Mangalica Pork Collar, Nuka Vegetables, Nori, Cinnamon Infused Dashi, Pickled Sesame

One of the biggest finds and wows of my entire year was the discovery of the wooly pig (Mangalica pig) which is as marbled as Kobe beef. This gives the pork a completely new dimension. The richness of the pork at Tippling Club is carefully balanced with Japanese-style pickled vegetables and an cinnamon infused dashi.

#6  Îles flottantes at Robuchon au Dome, Macau

Île flottante

Île flottante

If there is one dessert I cannot resist it has to be  Îles flottantes or floating islands – so named because the poached meringue sits on top of a pool of custard. I have eaten this dish many times but the version at Robuchon au Dome is by far the best I have eaten, hands down. The meringue was lighter than a cloud and the custard sinfully good. To be honest, the rest of the meal was a complete tour de force in gastronomy but this simple dish only highlights how talented the kitchen is at making such a simple dish magical.

#7 Hairy Crab & Cabbage at Man Wah, Hong Kong

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Braised Shanghainese cabbage, hairy crab

Yet again, this dish makes the list because I was amazed by how amazing the Shanghainese cabbage (surely one of the most boring vegetables in the world) is made to taste like Beluga caviar. The slow braised cabbage is smothered with a sauce made from the roe of the seasonal hairy crab. Underneath it lay a bed of picked crab meat. This just goes to show that with a little love (and a lot of talent from the kitchen) any humble vegetable can be made to taste amazing.

#8 Dexter Beef at the Square, London

Roast Short Rib of Dexter Beef, Calves Sweetbreads with Caramelised Onion, Parsley and Garlic Purée, Duxelles of Girolles and Red Wine

Roast Short Rib of Dexter Beef, Calves Sweetbreads with Caramelised Onion, Parsley and Garlic Purée, Duxelles of Girolles and Red Wine

I will hold my hand up and admit that I don’t have a very high opinion of British beef which I often find rather lacking in the flavour department. However, the beef short rib at the Square quickly changed my mind. The beef comes from a small produce who clearly puts a lot of care into animal husbandry and it shows on the plate with beef that is full of flavour and has amazing texture. If only more producers are able to replicate such high standards in their produce, we would not need to import any USDA beef.

#9 Cholesterol Bowl at Shinji by Kanesaka, Singapore

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“Cholesterol Bowl”

Rice. Sea Urchin. Salmon Roe. Chopped Otoro. Nuff’ said.

#10 Cassoulet of Clams at Michael Wignall at the Latymer, Bagshot

Cassoulet of razor clams and cockles, cuttlefish gnocchi and wafer, poached quail egg

Cassoulet of razor clams and cockles, cuttlefish gnocchi and wafer, poached quail egg

An insane amount of work has gone into this little bowl of treasures but each element is timed perfectly. There is not a hint of chewiness from the clams or squid and the quail’s egg is perfectly poached. This is a hearty dish but is a perfect showcase of the bounty of seafood which are readily available from our shores.

There you have it. That is my Top 10 most memorable dishes of 2015. Hopefully 2016 will bring as much excitement to the dining table.

Caprice, Hong Kong – More Than Cheese

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Caprice
Four Seasons Hotel
8 Finance Street, Hong Kong, China
Tel: (852) 3196-8860

Cuisine: French Gastronomy

Nearest tube: Central

Website: Caprice

For our second day in Hong Kong, I had arranged to have a nice relaxing lunch at Caprice – a short 5 minute walk from our hotel. I had originally planned to dine at Caprice during our trip to Hong Kong back in April of this year but for reasons I can only put down to temporary insanity, I decided to cancel at the last minute and dine at the disastrous Petrus instead. This would be my second visit here. My first visit was back when they held 3 stars – they briefly held 3 stars for 2 years but was subsequently demoted back to 2 stars. Based on my initial meal there, I felt that decision was correct as although the cooking was of a very high standard, it was not a memorable meal. The current head chef is Fabrice Vulin, no doubt brought in to regain the third star.

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Dining Room

Located on the 6th floor of the Four Seasons Hotel, the restaurant offers beautiful views of the Kowloon peninsula. Window seats are allocated based on a first come first served basis so make sure you book early. The dining room is elegantly decorated with crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceiling while the showcase of the restaurant is the open kitchen on an elevated platform working in synchronous harmony.

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