Saam school: seven-course menu that's nothing like it reads
The gluten-free noodles are extruded chicken mousse, the sausage is lobster paste, and cereal & yogurt is a foie gras parfait with granola and peppered pineapple. Central restaurant's Back to School themed tasting menu is full of surprises
For almost a year, Saam Food and Drink in Hong Kong's Central district has been quietly whipping up some intriguing dishes that are interpretations of cuisines from all over the world using various cooking techniques like sous vide and food processors.
Patrick Dang, head chef at the restaurant on Graham Street, recently started a themed tasting menu that will change every two months, and we had the chance to sample the first one at a hosted dinner, on the theme of “Back to School”, that is available until the end of October.
The first dish is called Nutella & toast, but it is far from the sweet nutty treat the name would suggest. Rather, it is a truffle panna cotta with raw scallop hidden under hazelnut foam; we’re encouraged to put it on toast stuffed with truffle paste mixed with cocoa.
Next is a dish called cereal & yogurt, comprising a foie gras parfait - the foie gras is cooked sous vide, then blended into a creamy texture that is mixed with homemade granola - topped with small dollops of almond yogurt and chunks of peppered pineapple. It is quite rich, but fun to eat.
We quite enjoyed the sausage & egg – what appears to be a sunny-side-up egg is actually coconut infused with lemongrass and yogurt, with a scoop of pumpkin puree for the yolk; it is accompanied by lobster that’s been made into a paste formed into a sausage shape.
Fish & chips is a British staple, but Dang turns it on its head. Instead of deep-fried fish fillet we are served turbot cooked sous vide, with crispy potato cake on a bed of vivid green crushed peas.
Another creative dish is named gluten-free noodle soup. The "noodles" are formed of chicken meat that’s been blended into a mousse, while the broth is an excellent traditional Chinese one made with abalone, chicken, Chinese ham, and conpoy.
After five dishes we already feel full, but there are two more to come. First up is school roast dinner - a thin strip of Wagyu short rib with a single long potato fry and vegetables. The beef is strongly marbled and rich.
Dessert is PB&J or peanut butter and jelly: a peanut butter parfait with grape jelly, and "jam" in the form of a roasted banana pudding. It doesn’t quite taste like the childhood sandwich you may have been used to, but definitely has elements of it.
The seven-course tasting menu costs HK$788. There are wine pairings for an additional HK$348.
A five-course tasting menu costs HK$638. There are wine pairings for an additional HK$248.
Saam, G/F, 51D, Graham Street, SoHo. Tel: 2645 9828. Open Tue-Sun, 6pm onwards, Lunch on Fridays only