Friday, November 25, 2016

Frantzén's Kitchen (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★★☆

Two months ago, when footballer turned Michelin starred chef Björn Frantzén announced on Instagram his attention to open a bistro-style restaurant in Hong Kong, I was absolutely jumping for joy. 2016 has been a horrible year for restaurant openings in the city but that little piece of news finally gave me something to cheer about.

So I have been impatiently waiting for two months and finally there was news that chef Frantzén's new digs, Frantzén's Kitchen, will soft-open on 24th November. Luckily, I was able to get myself a seat on its second day of operation.

Personally, I am a huge fan of modern Nordic cuisine and I'm really hoping that Frantzén's Kitchen can fill the void left behind by the abrupt closure of NUR.

My first impression of this new 36-seater on Upper Station Street was a pretty good one. Just by looking at the detailed drawings on the menu, I knew I would be in for a treat.

The food menu is divided into 3 categories - snacks, dishes and desserts. It's a pretty small menu but covers a lot of ground. Luckily I had some experience with this type of modern Nordic cuisine based on my previous visit to Mathias Dahlgren in Stockholm so I knew what I was up against. Unlike a typical French cuisine where you choose a starter, main and dessert, a meal here will likely consist of 1 to 2 snacks, 2 to 3 starters, 1 to 2 main and if there's still enough room for dessert, then perhaps one dessert.

Apple and lingonberry macaron with foie gras parfait ($60) - I started this highly anticipated dinner off with two snacks. The first one was an apple and lingonberry macaron with foie gras parfait in the middle. I followed my server's instructions very carefully and made sure that I finished this in one bite.

The richness of the foie gras parfait was nicely matched with the acidity from the apple and lingonberry. Very nice start.

Swedish sushi ($80) - A Swedish take on the Japanese sushi. I have seen a slightly different version of this on the web with horse meat but this one uses fallow deer.

The "sushi" had a crispy white moss base layered with raw fallow deer, ceps mayonnaise and frozen foie gras shaving on top. Despite coming in a very small package, it did possess some of the richest and most complex flavors one could expect from a little snack.

Roasted Hokkaido scallop ($205) - I decided just to have one starter tonight so I wanted to make it count.

There's really nothing special about these three pieces of thinly sliced scallops. The key here was the Nordic dashi made with bonito and a touch of ginger oil. Very rich and flavorful and I like the extra kick of acidity from the fingerlime.

North Atlantic cod "Janssons" ($230) - My second dish from the "Dishes" section was slow-cooked North Atlantic cod fish served with beurre blanc along with a little bit of preserved anchovy juice. This was topped with some really expensive vendace roes from Kalix and caramelized onions.

I thought the texture of the cod fish was really light and flaky. Its sweet flavor was wonderfully complemented by the creamy beurre blanc, delicate vendace roes and sweetness of the caramelized onions. A little small for a main dish but pretty nice.

Swedish dairy cow ($280) - I have never had Swedish beef before so this was something to look forward to. I was told the beef was actually prepared by a Swedish butcher, dried aged for 100 days and then shipped to Hong Kong.

This was again a very nice dish. The thinly sliced beef was topped with tiny strips of beurre noisette before they put the finishing touch on with a sprinkle of truffle ponzu and truffle salt. 

Sticky beetroot ($115) - I had a little too much to eat today following a company event that included a lunch buffet. So I was all prepared to call it the night but when our pretty Swedish waitress came up to ask me if I wanted to have dessert, well maybe I would just have a peek at the dessert menu again.

At the end, I asked her to pick one for me and she promptly got me this sticky beetroot, one of their most popular desserts since they introduced it a few years ago in Sweden. It turned out to be a mixture of sticky beetroot, old vinegar, whipped liquorice, sorbet and mixed berries compote. Okay but nothing to write home about.

It was without a question one of the best meals I had in 2016. The food menu is full of surprises from all the unusual ingredients (lingonberry, raw fallow deer, vendace roe from Kalix etc.) I won't find anywhere else in Hong Kong and the creativity, I thought was second to none. My only complaint tonight was perhaps the portions looked a little small on a number of dishes (The cod fish was really small) so after spending $1,100 on this meal, I was still a little hungry afterwards.

Food Rating: 7/10
Price: $$$$
Address: 11 Upper Station Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Central / Hong Kong Station
Tel: +852 2559-8508

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