Saturday, August 25, 2007

Dinner at Bo Innovation

I stumbled upon this place from my usual online foodie forum searches. The chef began as one of those "private home kitchen" chefs where they're not licensed and you go up to a residential apartment (called flat here) to have your meal. I guess he's since found the funding to open a real restaurant and in a nice location too. The place does Chinese fusion and it seems more of a focus on chinese dishes with western ingredients and methods than the other way around, which is the more common and easier approach. On the business card it reads X-treme cuisine chinese.

Atmosphere: Decent atmosphere and setting. Most of the color scheme is dark and the place is mostly dimly lit, with the majority of the lighting to the rear of the restaurant near the wall. It's not a very large room as there is one large round table that can seat about 10 and about 4-5 smaller tables that can seat 4-6.

Service: Servers were attentive enough and replaced silverware after every course. The male server seemed to only speak English as he was describing the dishes but his English was not that good to begin with. There was a manager who kept going from table to table excitedly describing the dishes and how the chef is trying to be innovative in his cuisine.

Food: Ended up choosing the Chef's menu which ended up being 11 courses including the dessert course and the first course which almost could have been an amuse but I didn't think served that purpose.

Oyster tofu with ikura: A very good starter that showcased the chef's talents quite well. A small cube of tofu with a sea taste of the oyster went really well with the salty ikura. The smooth texture of the tofu also was a good contrast to the small bursting sacs of salmon roe.

Scallop with braised vermicelli in porcini essence: The vermicelli was delicious and the porcini flavor really came out. The piece of scallop was very ordinary and I think this dish suffered from an identity crisis. If the scallop was the center of attention then there needed to be a bigger and better piece of it. If the vermicelli was the center of attention then perhaps dicing the scallop and mixing it in would give the overall dish a better texture feel.

Duet of sashimi: Very disappointing. The fish was sliced relatively thin and lacked real sashimi flavor. One piece was a salmon done in the preservation style of Chinese sausage (臘腸) and it really had that kind of taste to it but I wasn't a fan of it. The other piece was yellowtail with a mild sesame sauce but overall it seemed bland to me.

Macau crab souffle: Basically a dish of crab meat, egg whites, and a flavorful Chinese vinegar. Similar to a Chinese dish I'm quite familiar with, the only twist seems to be the souffle presentation. However, it didn't have that souffle texture that I'm used to so I'd call it a failure in that sense.

Sweet organic garlic ravioli: This was a dish that was a success on many levels, but for me just missed one simple piece. It consisted of a wonton with a sweet garlic puree filling on a small bed of sweetened whelk (marine snail) and topped with a salty duck egg foam and curry oil. The salty and sweet flavors mixed terrifically and the texture contrasts were divine from the chewy whelk to the foam and oil. However, I think the wonton was not good for this dish and if he had used an actual ravioli with some bite in it the texture contrast would have been even better. But flavor-wise it had great depth.

Slow cooked cod: The color of this thing was quite interesting with the beetroot miso sauce. The fish was cooked perfectly and the sauce had just the right amount of sweetness (I had too much sauce on mine and had to spoon some off). I asked if it was done sous-vide but the enthusiastic manager guy didn't really seem to know but i think we determined that it wasn't.

Pan-fried foie gras: A pretty decent sized piece of foie gras that came with a lotus seed foam and a fresh pineapple crisp. The lotus seed foam did nothing for me but the pineapple's sweet and sourness helped cut into the foie gras.

Chicken two ways: A medallion of roasted French chicken along with a more inventive chicken and mushroom and bamboo shoots wrapped and cooked in lotus leaf all accompanied by a garlic glutinous rice ball. Tasty and simple, a good juxtaposition of east and west interpretations of chicken.

Beef tenderloin with rice paste rolls (腸粉): Simple cooked beef tenderloin with rice paste rolls with a sprinkling of truffle on top. Yet again the actual cooking of all the meats during this meal was spot-on.

Shrimp tartare over cold udon: This wasn't really a tartare as nothing was finely chopped. It was basically two pieces of what looked like amaebi served over cold noodles with a peanut sauce. The textures just weren't right for me and the taste was bland. I don't know what he was aiming for with this cold dish at the end but it seemed a disappointing ending.

Trio of dessert: An apple dumpling done in a har gao (蝦餃) wrap, jasmine flavored creme brulee, and preserved plum ice cream. I enjoyed all three of the desserts, and each one had a really strong taste of the featured flavor. Good ending to a nice meal of 11 courses.
Chef's table: On the way out i noticed that they have a chef's table in the kitchen. It literally is a bar set up right on the edge of the kitchen's hot plate. Seems interesting. Might be worth a try.