Diner’s Diary

Have a whale of a time eating plankton at Hong Kong restaurant Isono

Restaurant at PMQ in SoHo has created three dishes using one of the marine building blocks of life. It brings a briny, umami taste to ravioli, seafood carbonara and a seafood paella

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 February, 2016, 10:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 February, 2016, 11:56am

Ever eaten plankton before?

Following my story about western chefs using seaweed in various ways, I heard about Isono at PMQ serving plankton on its menu and had to check it out.

Everything from blue whales to jellyfish and shrimp eat plankton, making it the absolute bottom of the marine food chain. Plankton not only feeds other sea life but produces about half of the world’s oxygen.

To harvest it, the phytoplankton is freeze-dried and turned into a powder. When presented in its raw form, it looks like a dark green paste and has a briny, umami taste. It is high in iron, calcium, phosphorus, iodine, magnesium and potassium, which makes me wonder when it will be declared the next super food.

Isono’s chef de cuisine, Luca Marianelli, has created three dishes using plankton that are available until March 31. We started with the green ravioli with burrata and bottarga with a plankton emulsion (HK$328). The sauce is green and tastes as if it were made of tuna, salmon or shrimp.

Next came the carbonara di mare with plankton (HK$328). Marianelli explained that he uses salmon roe in place of an egg and cuttlefish instead of pancetta in this carbonara. The green spaghetti was artfully presented with pearls of salmon roe glistening on top. The dish was a bit too salty, though the roe did lend some creaminess without making it too rich.

A plankton seafood paella (HK$318) was delicious, with the rice, clams and shrimps cooked just right. The brininess of the plankton seasoned the dish, though the taste wasn’t quite as pronounced as in the ravioli.

Isono, 6/F, Block B, PMQ, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central. Tel: 2156 0688