New Hong Kong restaurants: The Flying Elk – rich, satisfying Nordic dishes at Central sister to Frantzén’s Kitchen
Step into Swedish chef Jim Löfdahl’s modern Nordic cabin in the heart of Hong Kong to taste unusual ingredients, cooked fabulously with one exception. The menu is short but satisfying
The menu at Nordic restaurant the Flying Elk in Hong Kong’s Central district, like that at Frantzén’s Kitchen in nearby Sheung Wan, is brief, with lots of interesting and unfamiliar ingredients such as Kvibille cheese and sea buckthorn.
Both restaurants are branches of chef Björn Frantzén’s establishments in Sweden; Frantzén in Stockholm has three Michelin stars.
The menu is divided into three sections: snacks, medium-sized dishes and desserts.
From the snacks menu we ordered gougères (HK$40) and deep-fried pig’s ears (HK$40). We loved the rich, decadent, sweet-savoury mouthfuls of light puffs filled with Allerum cheddar and drizzled with chestnut honey. We weren’t as impressed with the pig’s ears because the breading was too thick and you couldn’t really tell what you were eating – it could have been deep-fried anything.
Chef Jim Löfdahl recognised me from visits to Frantzen’s Kitchen, and he sent us a complimentary serving of the short-rib croquettes (HK$55). Served with chipotle emulsion, the croquettes had a light coating and were fat, moist and very meaty.
All three medium-sized dishes were delicious. The roasted scallop with scrambled eggs (HK$190) is a signature dish for a reason – it’s simply fantastic. The scrambled eggs – enriched with Normandy cream – were as smooth and creamy as Joël Robuchon’s famous pomme purée.
The Hokkaido scallops, seared so they were still very rare, were sweet and succulent, while the crisp potato nest, in strands as fine as guitar strings, added a mild crunch. The dish had flavours of truffle, cep powder and smoked soy.
I was hesitant to order the roasted smoked venison sirloin (HK$205) because all venison I’ve tried in the past was tough and dry. But both our waiter and Löfdahl strongly recommended the dish, so we gave it a shot.
This one changed my mind about the meat, which, cooked so it was still very rare, was tender and moist. The bitter greens on top – radicchio, endive and frisée – balanced the deep flavours of the venison.
Even better was the open sandwich of pork cheeks with cabbage, truffle béchamel and wild mushrooms (HK$185). Slow-cooked meat can be mushy; this was not. The pork cheek was perfectly cooked so it was tender but still had texture; the truffle was a good background note, the bread was resilient enough to stand up to the proportionately large amount of ingredients stacked on top, and the cabbage added bitter, savoury notes.
For dessert, I never can resist pineapple, but in retrospect I should have ordered something more interesting. The grilled pineapple with Swedish punsch, brown sugar and star anise ice cream (HK$70) was light but a little too sweet and not as refreshing as I’d hoped. But a complimentary dish of sea buckthorn and carrot sorbet (HK$50), subtly flavoured with cinnamon oil, did a perfect job of cleansing our palates after the substantial savoury dishes we’d eaten.
Löfdahl recommended his favourite dessert, the “After Eight” (HK$65). The chocolate fondant cake – soft and oozing – came with a brightly flavoured peppermint ice cream.
The Flying Elk, Wyndham Mansion, 32 Wyndham Street (entrance on Gleanealy), Central. Tel. 2565 6788. About HK$450 without drinks or the service charge.
While you’re in the area: