Tuesday, January 16, 2018

A Side / B Side (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★★☆

Back in the days when A Side / B Side was still a farm-to-table restaurant, I already thought long and hard about paying them a visit. But it wasn't until last week when I found out about their new chef, that I finally decided to give it the green light. Turns out chef Jon Irwin, previously of Figaro and Restaurant Akrame Hong Kong and Paris, has already taken over the helm since late 2017.

At dinner service, they are only offering a 4-course and 6-course surprise menu at $550 and $700 (I think) respectively. No more a la carte menu. 

Chef Irwin is a one-man show tonight flying all over the place and doing a very nice job. 

I wasn't drinking tonight so a bottle of Karma Cola suited me just fine. This, I think, was imported from New Zealand and was made with an original organic cola recipe. We're talking about no preservatives or anything artificial, just cola nuts, sugar, lemon, vanilla, nutmeg, coriander and a bunch of other stuff I have never heard of.

The first course of tonight's surprise menu was slow-cooked Norwegian salmon. Each of the three pieces of Norwegian salmon were well covered with what I thought was Soubise sauce on top, and decorated with pine nut crumble and spring onion. This was a very nice dish.  The salmon was working wonderfully well with the richness of the Soubise sauce. Simple but very tasty.

Next up was mushroom, black truffle and Beurre Blanc.

The black truffle flavored mushroom coming in the shape of a "beef patty", was reduced to almost like a paste or duxelles. I really enjoyed its silky smooth texture and it combined well with the little salad and black olive breadcrumbs underneath.

My last starter tonight was pan seared foie gras with a lot of different textures and flavors to back it up.

Those textures and flavors came in the form of dehydrated sago chip, pickled red onion, fresh celtuce, burnt eggplant powder and caramel and ponzu emulsion. I love the idea behind this busy dish but thought the seasoning was a little too strong and heavy for my palate (the foie gras perfect though).

The fish course was a lovely pan-fried pompret fillet with chia seed chip, black onion seeds, white onion sauce and pickled salsify.

It's my first experience with pompret in western style cooking and I thought it was brilliant with the black and white onion doing great work behind the scene.

There was only one dish that didn't impress me tonight and that was my meat course. The skirt steak with parsley, shiitake and shallot filling, was a little chewy while the mozzarella mousse and potato wafer did very little to enhance the flavors of the beef. 

Dessert provided yet another climax for me. Our first dessert was tonka bean mascarpone, earl grey jelly and pink grapefruit purée with a hint of thyme. I love the flavor and texture profiles here with the lovely scent from the tonka beans, acidity from the pink grapefruit and earthiness of the earl grey all coming together beautifully.

The second dessert was all about textures.

Sitting on top of the bed of dark chocolate mousse was truffle and Jerusalem artichoke with different degrees of crunchiness. A perfect dessert for those who love complex flavors and interesting textures.

This was without question the best meal I had in 2018 so far. I love chef Irwin's interpretation of modern European cuisine which is both highly innovative and refined. His ability to playfully incorporate all the different flavors and textures together has made this a unique dining experience all together.

Food Rating: 7.5/10
Price: $$$
Address: G/F, 53 Sai Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Sai Yin Pun
Tel: +852 2857-5055
Website: www.a-side-b-side.com

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