Restaurant review: Twenty Six by Liberty in Central is innovative if sometimes overcomplicated
Eclectic mixture of ingredients is great – when it works
When I read through my notes for the meal at Twenty Six by Liberty, some of the dishes sound like a shopping list of disparate ingredients. Lots of them. Sometimes way too much. The chef is talented, but as some of the dishes show, the food would be better if he reined in his creativity.
When it works, it’s great. An organic egg yolk with brown butter, corn purée and Japanese sea urchin was delicious, while oysters – two per person, one topped with frozen oyster juice and thinly sliced green apple, the other with limequat, smoked olive oil and chilli powder, were beautiful and refreshing.
Mashed avocado with white peach purée, salmon roe, curry powder and viola flowers sounds like a really weird mix, but it was surprisingly enjoyable, and we would have liked a second helping of the smoked potato with sour cream, Iranian caviar and Spanish mackerel.
But Mozambique langoustine with fennel, rose petals and sherry vinegar was overwhelmed by the torched rosemary, which, although we didn’t eat it, had a scent that was far too strong for the sweet shellfish. Tender octopus had too many clashing flavours: octopus paper (made of collagen), tapioca, hibiscus sauce and caramelised pink peppercorns. Also suffering from overkill was the Iberico suckling pig – we loved the meat with delicately crisp skin, but it didn’t need the sauerkraut or beer jellies.
Kobe beef cheek was so tender and delicious that I ate every bite of the meat, but would have been satisfied with either the jalapeno jelly or the black truffles – not both – and the beetroot purée and seaweed paper were distracting and extraneous.
Dessert was over the top, too: it had eggplant purée (not as odd as it sounds – eggplant is, after all, a fruit) with (brace yourself) banana, ginger ice cream, meringues, marshmallows and cacao.
By contrast, the petit four – a salted caramel – was perfect for its taste and simplicity.
Twenty Six by Liberty, 26/F, 11 Stanley Street, Central, tel: 5186 3282. HK$900 for a set nine-course meal, without drinks or the service charge