Taste of Hong Kong 2018 preview: new restaurants, exclusive dishes at four-day food extravaganza
We talk to chefs from One Harbour Road, Haku, Frantzen’s Kitchen, Caprice and Poem Patisserie who reveal some of the dishes they will offer at the Central harbourfront event, many of which are exclusive to the festival
The third edition of Taste of Hong Kong takes place this month, running from March 22 to 25 at the Central harbourfront and featuring a line-up of 20 restaurants, most of which are new to the event.
New participants include chef May Chow’s Little Bao restaurant, Alvin Leung’s three-Michelin-star Bo Innovation and newly opened Forbidden Duck, Pici, Chachawan, BlackSalt, Frantzen’s Kitchen, and New Punjab Club.
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Fine-dining Cantonese restaurant One Harbour Road at the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong will also make its Taste of Hong Kong debut, with chef de cuisine Chan Hon-cheong eager to present some of his dishes to the public as well as see what other restaurants are doing.
Chan and his team are preparing four dishes, three of which will be exclusive to the event.
The first of the exclusive dishes is a deboned roasted suckling pig with a slice of foie gras on top and garnished with deep-fried lotus root, which is eaten like a sandwich. Another is an attractive cold dish of roast duck with black truffle and mushrooms. The third is a hearty Mao-tai-braised beef cheek with Sichuan peppercorns which give a hint of mala (spicy and numbing) sensation.
Chan will also offer two dim sum dishes: peppered turnip and pork pastries covered in sesame seeds, and dumplings filled with drunken chicken marinated in fa diu wine. The dumpling wrapper is dyed red from red wine paste to give it a festive look.
Agustin Balbi of Haku restaurant in Tsim Sha Tsui says Taste of Hong Kong is an “awesome event” and is looking forward to serving guests during the first two days.
The chef of the Japanese-French restaurant in Harbour City will offer smoked octopus with olives and yuzu konbu, a dessert of Japanese orange with panna cotta and granita, and Haku’s signature dish of Hokkaido uni on toasted brioche and butternut squash. Exclusive to the event will be a prawn ebi with koshihikari rice and Japanese chilli pepper.
“Hopefully we’ll have enough – we might have to call the guys to say, ‘Come quick to the ferry!’” Balbi jokes. “I kind of know what to expect – Friday will be crazy.”
Balbi visited the first edition of Taste of Hong Kong and thinks taking part will be fun for his team, giving them the chance to meet and hang out with other chefs.
He says he has considered the possibility of erratic weather in late March, which is why he is making hot and cold dishes. “It’s not exactly like the restaurant experience, but we’ll try to replicate it as much as possible,” he says.
Frantzen’s Kitchen will be making its Taste of Hong Kong debut on March 24 and 25. The restaurant in Sheung Wan seats only 36, so the chefs will have to be prepared to handle many times more guests per hour.
Are they up to the task? Chef Jim Lofdahl thinks so.
The restaurant will present three of its most popular items: French toast with truffle, balsamic vinegar and aged cheese; veloute of white onion, licorice and smoked marcona almonds; and for dessert, smoked ice cream made with toasted hickory pecan, tar syrup and salted fudge with cloves.
Its exclusive dish will be Te Mana lamb shank slow cooked for 24 hours in a dill sauce with braised carrots, fried dill and crisp onions.
Preparing this much food will be a challenge for Lofdahl and his team, but he hopes that with the restaurant closed on March 24, and good organisation, Frantzen’s Kitchen will be able to handle the possible deluge of diners.
Caprice’s chef de cuisine Guillaume Galliot has a great advantage over most of the other chefs as his restaurant is very close to the festival site – handy in case he runs out of food. “I’m only 10 minutes away and I’m a fast runner!” he says.
The fine dining French contemporary restaurant will be offering 24-hour slow-cooked lamb shoulder with eggplant caviar and masala sauce; Alaskan king crab with prawn jelly and caviar, one of its signature dishes; and a dessert of profiterole with caramel cream, Tahitian vanilla chantilly and chocolate sauce by pastry chef Nicolas Lambert.
Its exclusive dish is lobster with comte espuma, confit leek and white mushroom. “I was inspired to marry the concept of the mountain and the sea,” Galliot says. “The lobster has a natural meatiness to it which makes it rather versatile. It can pair beautifully with red wine for example. I experimented to find the right combination of ‘mountain ingredients’ – confit leek, mushrooms and celeriac. The result is what I would call a perfect ‘la maree, la montagne’ or ‘the tide meets the mountain’.”
Chef Vicky Lau of the one-Michelin-starred Tate has been running her pastry shop, Poem Patisserie in Sheung Wan, for almost a year now, but she sees the event as an ideal opportunity to “share our Chinese-style dessert canapés with more people as well as help Hong Kong people redefine Hong Kong culture for themselves”.
Her shop is known for taking inspiration from traditional Hong Kong foods – from dim sum to soup desserts – and using traditional French pastry techniques along with fresh ingredients to create unique treats.
Those who pay Lau a visit can order either four or eight desserts, including a chestnut Chinese egg custard Mont Blanc featuring candied chestnuts, crisp meringue and salted duck egg; Lau’s take on the Hong Kong-style waffle, which incorporates whipped Hokkaido cream, salted shortbread, Valrhona dulcey mousse and toasted peanuts; and a red bean, vanilla and iced coconut, which comes with vanilla biscuit, sweetened red bean with dried mandarin peel, and kopyor coconut jelly.
Lau isn’t even revealing the exclusive dessert for the festival yet. She only hints that guests at the Poem Patisserie stall can enter a sensory installation where they can see, smell, taste, and touch various ingredients.
It should all be a memorable experience – let’s hope the weather will cooperate.
Taste of Hong Kong presented by Standard Chartered, March 22-25, Central harbourfront. Tickets HK$120 in advance, HK$150 at the door. Standard Chartered card holders can purchase tickets in advance for HK$96. For more information go to tasteofhongkong.com