Molecular Gastronomy: is it the food for tomorrow? I am still a little undecided whether or not I am a fan. I know some people would just prefer simple food – bangers and mash without any deconstructions. I’m trying to think whether or not I have been to many molecular gastronomy restaurants. On top of my head, I’ve eaten at the Fat Duck, a long time ago and was a lot younger and didn’t truly appreciate or enjoy it and the most recent would have to be Bo Innovation in Hong Kong, and although I did enjoy the meal, especially the molecular xiao long bao, I am still not 100% sure if its something I would eat every night. Anything between the first and the most recent is a bit of a blur!
I understand the science behind it, and appreciate the effort it takes but sometimes the combination of flavours sometimes just doesn’t work – well for me anyway. I know there are others who loves the idea, especially my dear guest blogger MG – his eyes light up like a child in a candy store whenever he talks about all the different types of machines and ways one can deconstruct a dish!
I was catching up with a few food lovers and most of us were keen to try Graze which opened late September last year. Located on Harris Street Pyrmont, this restaurant is a renovated gorgeous terrace. Two levels, the restaurant is small, cozy and sleek. I love the giant mural on one wall and the wine cabinet on one side of the wall.
Complementary bread – deliciously warm with crusty exterior.
Whilst waiting for others to arrive, I perused the menu carefully. I knew exactly what I wanted for mains but was a little undecided for entrée and dessert. However, we all started with the 1000 degree scallop, sesame, tonka bean ($3.50 each).
I wasn’t sure what they meant by 1000 degree, however, the scallops were nicely cooked. I couldn’t really taste any of the tonka bean but the sesame and chorizo was a lovely complement. It was nice but nothing special I thought.
For entrée, A and I both opted for the smoked chicken croquettes with sweet corn puree, basil mayonnaise and baby cos and pancetta ($12). The croquettes had a crunchy exterior with soft-pillow-y potato puree and tender chicken on the inside. I loved the corn puree – it was divine. The basil mayonnaise was also delicious – creamy and smooth with a hint of basil. My only gripe would be that it was uber salty – probably from the pancetta.
M and S had the rabbit terrine, brioche, pickled local peaches and lavender vinegar ($14). The rabbit was meaty and full of flavour, I loved the heirloom carrots inside. The peaches are pickled in chardonnay vinegar and lavender – it was wonderfully sweet and smelt divine! It really complemented the rabbit well.
D had the jamon and cheese toasty with cauliflower milkshake ($14) – this was an interesting dish! The cauliflower was served in a perpex milk carton and served warm, I thought it was going to be cold so it was a pleasant surprise and the jamon and cheese toasty was deliciously cheesy and absolutely yummy! It was rich though – not sure if I could have eaten the whole thing on my own.
For mains, M and I couldn’t go pass the maple smoked ocean trout, asparagus, dukkah, lemon coral ($26). It was served in a giant and heavy glass bowl and wooden plank – it was one of the prettiest dish I have seen and I was highly impressed by the presentation. Three pieces of smoked ocean trout which cooked itself on the maple wood. The ocean trout were served medium rare, I love the smokiness and the strong flavours – it was divine. I’m not usually big on foam, however, the foam which was made from sparkling water, lemon juice and gelatine really gave it that extra dense-ness was surprisingly ok. The dukkah and asparagus gave it that extra flavour. The flavours worked and the different components really complemented the dish.
S and A had the 48 hour slow cooked Dandenong lamb, peas and carrots ($22). Generous serving of lamb shoulder which I have heard was marinated in thyme leaves, salt and pepper and then rolled, vacuum-packed with a dash of red wine vingar and cooked sous vide at 60 degrees for 48 hours. I didn’t have any of this, but the diners absolutely loved it. They said it was the most tender lamb they have had, as it melted in their mouth. The crushed peas and streaks of carrot puree were a wonderful complement. Compared to the ocean trout dish, this was presented simpler but from what I gather from S and A – it was one hell of a lamb!
D had the Blackmore’s 9+ wagyu beef rump, lentil and mushroom vinaigrette ($26). The beef was served medium rare and it was tender, juicy and succulent. The lentil and mushroom vinaigrette were a wonderful complement. Again, this was a more simple dish compared to the smoked ocean trout.
We ordered a serve of crispy potatoes, truffle oil and parmesan ($10). The potatoes were soft and moist on the inside with crispy exterior and drizzled with truffle oil and parmesan, it was amazing. S claims it is better than the one at Charlie and Co.
I was stuffed, and couldn’t fit dessert on my own, however, I did try some of the others. S opted for cheese, manchengo, young and aged 9 – crisp fruit bread and quince ($14). Soft, gooey cheese and the crisp fruit bread really went well with the cheese. It truly brought out all the flavours, it was wonderful.
A had the nitrogen poached chocolate and cointreau fondant ($14) – it wasn’t the prettiest dessert, and we heard that it would collapse and melt quickly, so we had our camera ready to snap some pics. A mixture of chocolate and cointreau is plunged into liquid nitrogen at -196 degrees which freezes the outside into a shell while the inside remains gooey.
The chocolate oozed and it was absolutely delicious and moist. I love the raspberry coulis and crumbs which complemented the fondant well. YUM!
The passionfruit meringue, sable shortbread, blackberry gel ($10) – five mini meringue individually on a disk of sable shortbread topped with passionfruit curd. The blackberry gel I thought didn’t do much, it looked as though it was ‘scraped’ on. The meringue were so light and fluffy, and the passionfruit really gave the dessert a nice tang. It was better than I had anticipated.
M had the paradise pear, poire william parfait, pear cider sorbet ($12). I loved this dessert – the pear cider sorbet was deliciously light and refreshing. The poire william parfait was moist and smooth with a hint of alcohol. It was subtle but you could definitely taste it.
The service at Graze was friendly and warm. I was particularly impressed by the food, although I still prefer the simple and uncomplicated dish like that wagyu beef. The ocean trout was definitely ‘fun’ but not sure if I loved it as much as I thought I would. Out of the dessert, I enjoyed the pear most. It was simple, light and refreshing.
I am still not 100% convinced about molecular gastronomy but I certainly did enjoy the experience. I would be more than happy to go again (either back to Graze or somewhere else). Thought the value at Graze was very reasonable, we were all full and happy.
It was so lovely to catch up with you all and I look forward to our next meal!
GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10
182 Harris street
Ph: +61 2 9518 5025
I have been looking forward to MG’s visit for a while now and one of the major reasons is that I knew I would have an eating partner for a few days who was willing to try some ‘interesting’ restaurant and enjoy it! We have been planning his visit for a weeks, he requested to go to a couple of restaurants and so did I! I knew that it was going to be a BIG eating week, so I started eating salad for lunch and soup for dinner for a couple of days prior to him coming.
I have wanted to go to Bo Innovation and have heard mix reviews – a friend went a couple of months ago and was disappointed, but another said that it was a must go. I told MG about it and he was definitely keen! I knew Hubby would not enjoy it – he has never been a fan of molecular type food or fusion or where east meet west. So on his first day in Hong Kong, I decided to take him there.
Alvin Leung is the chef behind this one-star Michelin restaurant, a former engineer and self-taught chef. Known also as the ‘Demon Chef’, I was looking forward to meeting this Demon, however, he wasn’t there that day.
MG and I arrived at about noon and we were the only diners there at the time. We were seated to our table, and perused the menu. There were two options – the lunch menu (HK$228 or AUD$34), which consists of choice of 2 dim sum or classic “bo” dishes, a choice of main course, starch and dessert du jour OR the lunch chef menu (HK$750 or AUD$112), which consists of 7 dishes, starch and dessert du jour.
MG and I looked at each other and thought – should we go for the chef menu? It has more food? And without really discussing or thinking, we both agreed to have the lunch chef menu – more things to try! I really do like the way he thinks!
I quite like the modern Chinese table setting – a round metal steel, it was quite funky! MG was keen to take this home, but my handbag was not big enough and I am sure the waiters would notice that a table set was missing!
We started off with Dead Garden – enoki, morel, caterpillar foie gras, and green onion. It resembles something of a ‘plant’, the enoki being the roots and the first thing that you eat. It was crunchy and dry. The caterpillar foie gras and green onions are the dirt and plants – it tasted a little bit like pork floss and wasabi, which was extremely smooth and creamy. It was interesting to say the least – good concept but a little weird at the same time.
Next the molecular xiao long bau – not your typical xiao long bau, no flour skin, just the juice. It was suggested that you swallow the whole thing in one bite and as soon as you bite it, the perfectly rounded ginger-based soup explodes in your mouth, with a thin sliver of pickled ginger on top which gave it a nice finale. It was indeed very smart.
The air dried foie gras toro and raspberry was absolutely delightful. The toro was creamy and fresh, a little fatty but not sickly. It was absolutely tasty. The dried foei gras and raspberry gave it a nice touch. It was very light and refreshing. A favourite amongst the diners that’s for sure.
Unfortunately they ran out of the white asparagus, so our hunan ham was served with wild barramundi, compressed winter melon, honey, fennel. The fish was moist and tender, the hunan ham, salty and soft. The combination of it all was just incredible. I’m not usually a big fan of ‘foam’, but the honey foam really gave it a really nice touch.
Mac and Yak – cheung fan yak cheese, served on a hot plate dish was outstanding. It’s such a simple dish but yet so satisfying. Gooey oozy cheese with cheung fan – I utterly enjoyed this and could have eaten another serve!
Next came the foie gras, lettuce wrap, sauternes with miso. The foie gras was slightly pan fried, it was rich, buttery and delicate. Topped with a dollop of miso, the foei gras was smooth and absolutely amazing.
Lastly, the Wagyu M9+, served with wasabi sugar snap peas was mouth watering. The wagyu was so tender and succulent. It was definitely the highlight of the meal.
The ‘starch’ was actually fried rice with caviar. I thought this was quite ordinary. The mixture of rice and caviar was nice, however, it was nothing special.
Last but not least, chestnut and chocolate cake with pistachio was deliciously yummy. It wasn’t as moist as I have hoped but it was still tasty. The pistachio gave it a nice texture and the chestnut was a great compliment. It was a great way to end a delicious molecular meal.
The highlights for both MG and I were the toro with dried foie gras and raspberry, the cheung fan yak cheese, and the wagyu beef. I also enjoyed the molecular xiao long bao and the foie gras. I thought the dead garden was interesting, but would probably not eat it again and the hunan ham was a little boring.
The service was great, the waiters were tentative and each meal was explained prior to us consuming it. MG really enjoyed it and still talks about the molecular gastronomic meal he had at Bo Innovation.
It was definitely a great way to start his trip, the beginning of many meals to come!
GA’s rating: 7.5 / 10
Shop 13, 2/f, J Residence
60 Johnston Road,
Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Ph: +852 2850 8371