Newly opened Belon, SoHo – James Henry’s Hong Kong debut impresses

Australian chef’s new venture offers variety, intriguing flavour combinations and decadent desserts. Must-try menu items include the bread and a chocolate, hazelnut and Armagnac prune compote

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 March, 2016, 4:01pm
UPDATED : Monday, 28 March, 2016, 4:00pm

Australian chef James Henry, who shot to fame for his bistro Bones, in Paris, has collaborated with Black Sheep Restaurants to open Belon in Elgin Street, SoHo, and although new, it’s already popular.

The decor is contemporary bistro, with mirrors on the white walls, navy blue banquette setting, marble table tops and blue and white linen napkins. At the back is a large bar counter where mille-feuille is displayed.

The menu changes depending on what fresh ingredients Henry can get, which keeps things interesting for both guests and staff. However, there are a few items that have already become must-try meals.

First is the naturally leavened, country-style bread (HK$48) that Henry makes, which has a thick crust and soft crumb.

Next is the sea urchin and sweet potato waffle with smoked bacon cream (HK$78 each). It sounds like an intriguing combination and it works well: the umami of the uni, combined with the sweet potato and then the savouriness of the bacon flavour, is a memorable two-bite wonder.

As for other menu items, a more delicate starter is the pain perdu with smoked eel and black radish (HK$48), a strip of eel placed on top of bread and topped with delicate radish shaped like leaves.

There’s also the Hokkaido scallop (HK$138) – a very large one cooked in its shell with seaweed butter and topped with thin slices of turnip for texture. It’s meaty and buttery, with a wonderful, light yuzu finish that lingers on the palate.

On the day of our visit, the market fresh fish (HK$558) was flounder, and although delicious it was slightly overcooked. The fish was beheaded and deboned, pan-fried and presented in an oval pan topped with a generous mound of parsley, basil and salad leaves. Almost as good as the fish were the accompanying fresh local peas that were sweet and slightly crunchy.

We were curious about the lavender and whey granita with miso ice cream and lemon (HK$108). The white dessert came in a bowl topped with thin meringue slices and the flavour was slighty tart and savoury, although we couldn’t detect any lavender.

For a decadent finish, the chocolate, hazelnut and Armagnac prune compote (HK$118) hit the spot. Sliced like a chocolate bar, it features chocolate ganache, mousse, bits of hazelnut and a crunchy base. Salt flakes are sprinkled on top to bring more dimension to the flavours, and the dessert was a wonderful play of textures.

Belon, 41 Elgin Street, SoHo, tel: 2152 2872