Be prepared for a long long LONG blog. I meant to write this way back in September, when I finally finally finally got to try the Demon Chef's Bo Innovation with my cousin who's visiting from Vancouver. I blame my work and laziness for this but it is also because I don't know where to start (12 courses in one meal!!) The mosaic portrait of the Demon Chef (Real name: Alvin Leung) is definitely a bit intimidating, I didn't know what to expect - should I listen to all the rave about this restaurant or was it just all a gimmick?
So there I was with my cousins, hoovering over the menu, trying to decide which one would suit all of our needs, which we finally decided upon taking the chef's table menu (excluding the "Sex on the Beach" option). And with empty stomachs, we await for our first dish.
A very strong start to the menu - the Green Onion is actually Kumamoto Oyster with Lime Juice, with frozen ginger (in flavor of the Chinese ginger and onion sauce frozen with nitrogen) on top. Absolutely wonderful dish as the sweet aftertaste of the oyster and ginger sauce left us longing for more.
Next came the Caviar - a tea-smoked quail egg on top of crispy taro. The small piece of crispy taro created an explosion of smoky tea flavor in my mouth, which stayed quite true to the real tea-smoked flavor in the Chinese flavor despite its Western presntation and ingredients. However, the taro was a tad bit too oily, leaving a strong oily after taste in my mouth.
The course after - Har Mi - a Carabinero Shrimp (from Spain) on top of Capellini pasta with Har Mi grains & Sage on top. The medium rare shrimp was cooked just right, the pasta was, of course, al dente and was definitely a very nice compliment to the dehydrated and grained dried shrimps (called "Har Mi" in Cantonese), which added a forte to the flavor leaving us longing for more. Definitely my favorite as the flavors were just mindblowing it just makes your mind blank as you let the flavors conquer your tastebuds. :)
After such a strong dish, the foie gras dish didn't give us too much of a surprise. It's nicely cooked and paired with red date sweet sauce and a dollop of lychee puree. I would say it's a nicely executed dish, but definitely not as impressive as the previous dish, probably because the flavors were way milder and the red date sauce was not strong enough to create a lasting impression on us.
Next came the dish of scallop with kaffir lime green sauce and grape jelly. I must say... the presentation is confusing... I mean, what am I supposed to do with the scallop? Am I supposed to eat it with the jelly and the green sauce or seperately? The kaffir lime sauce basically overwhelmed the scallop, the grape jelly is just... a piece of jelly. So a little bit confused over there with what the chef is trying to represent as the flavors overpower each other and does not make the main character of the dish stick out.
Alright, next comes the Iberico ham. I must say this is very creative because what is usually a Spanish type of ham is executed in a very Chinese / Korean way. Chef Alvin definitely did a very good job at staying true at the Chinese ham flavors and enhanced it with the onion foam you see on top.
Moving onto the Molecular Xiao Long Bao, a very flavorful concentrated jelly with a strip of ginger marinated in Chinese vinegar. This is the dish I would be looking forward to in Bo Innovation as they use innovative methods of combining molecular gastronomy science with food, this would be their signature right here. It was nice! Strong xiao long bao flavor, but i think I prefer the original xiao long bao as it was just lacking steam and hot juices that was the whole point of the bun... but! Flavors were spot on, it was nice, I just prefer the real XLB, that's all! :)
Moving onto the Hunan Ham dish... this is basically an onion braised in Hunan Ham stock for 4 hours, with onion foam added on top. Sided with a compressed winter melon that's sliced in two pieces and infused with honey, along with some curry sauce and har mi drizzles on top. Definitely my least favorite dish of the night. The compressed winter melon tasted like a thin piece of paper and the har mi and curry sauce was just... disappointing. so let's move on before I go on ranting.
So finally we move onto the 9th dish (oh god, believe me I'm as tired as you are :P). Basically, this dish consists of a sauce that consists of clarified butter, Sauternes and a little bit of Fu Yu on top of an oil poached trout and Mizuna leaves at the bottom. This is like the miso salmon dish but in Fu Yu instead. What I like about this is that the Fu Yu was surprisingly not as overwhelming as I thought it would be. If I wasn't so full I would definitely finish this plate. :)
After a palate cleanser (dragon fruit puree with some ginseng), next came the "Squid" dish, which consists of sweetbread (cows lymphatic glands fried in oyster sauce) with fried Japanese tofu and mixed greens. After we swallow the sweetbread, the waiters added in a very traditional dried squid and lotus root soup. Quite good as a 10th dish as we were longing for something soupy to help us digest a little bit.
Alright, if only I knew the M9+ beef is going to be this humongous, I will not finish all my previous dishes. This rich piece of beef was placed on top of Chinese cheung fun rolled in truffles, with white and black truffle sauce. The beef itself was the star of the dish, it was rich and creamy in texture... and truffle sauce = HEAVEN. Now I will leave you to drool over this while I move onto dessert.
We decided to skip "sex on the beach" because we heard it's plain gross. (just check it out online, please don't have me elaborate on what it is...) So we move onto Sandalwood, which is a Chinese incense used frequently in temples. Basically the steps to eating this is to take a whiff of the Sandalwood smoke inside the jar and eat. The idea is to taste the incense flavor with your nose, and enhance the flavors by taking a bite of the Chinese almonds pina cotta with hawthorn sauce at the bottom before your nose forgets the smell. This is definitely a very refreshing dessert after the heavy M9+ steak we had just now.
Next came the "Shui Jing Fang" dish - vanilla bean ice cream with banana poached in the Shui Jing Fang Chinese wine with chocolate powder raisins poached with the wine as well, they are placed on top of a thin crust and topped with caramel sauce. I must say... it basically just taste like any dessert but with a distinctive shui jing fang flavor. Maybe I'm just not a dessert person... or maybe 12 courses is just too much for us to take!
Finally... we are at the last stage of the menu! Tasty little dimsums that looks like any traditional desserts but it plays with your mind. For instance, macaroons in kaffir lime flavor (taste very much like an Indonesian/Indian inspired macaroon), salty mandarin flavor white chocolate (A traditional Chinese flavor but in chocolate...), fried glutinous rice balls with chocolate filling inside (traditional way would be filling it with red bean paste) and marshmallows in coconut and red dates flavor.
Overall, I would say Bo Innovations is the place to go when you are up for a little taste bud awakening. The Demon Chef is not so demonic after all, the chef is a passionate guy who just want to enlighten his customer's tastebuds and give them a comfortable dining experience. The Demon Chef was always happy to stop by for a chat with his customers. I must say with that tattoo on his arm and his rock & roll image at Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations", I would have thought that he would be reluctant to hear about what his customers liked and disliked. But no, he took in our comments graciously, he listened and I can tell he is experimenting with how far his customers in HK can go. I must say though, it might be because he listened too much to his customers that some of his dishes stayed true to the traditional dishes, hence there are less molecular science methods involved with his dishes. I would hope to see more of a Bo Innovation soul in the dishes instead of trying to be too pleasing, because that was what got the Demon Chef well-known in the fist place. Since the menu changes every couple of months it is hard for me to say that it will always be good. Then again, it was a very pleasant experience, the food was scrumptious and the service was absolutely perfect. If you don't mind the expensive price tag, this is the place to go for a nice culinary adventure.
Want to give this a try?
Shop 13, 2/F, J Residence
60 Johnston Road
Wan Chai, Hong Kong
(Private Lift Entrance on 18 Ship Street)
Tel: 2850 8371