Umami Concepts chefs invite guests to help cook delicious dishes in lofty Mid-Levels ‘apartment’

Courses cooked to perfection with a symphony of flavours on a plate

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 April, 2017, 12:15pm
UPDATED : Monday, 10 April, 2017, 4:49pm

Modern high rises have sprung up around 35 Bonham, an 80-year-old walk-up with just three floors. On the second floor is Umami Concepts, which is not a private kitchen but an interactive cooking space for private parties and events. The “apartment” started out as a bakery that fed the allies against the invading Japanese army; then it became a butcher’s and tea-storage facility before it became an apartment from the 1970s. The spacious apartment now looks like a New York loft, with artwork and photos on the walls, and comfy sofa areas and an open kitchen next to the dining space.

Chef Nolan Ledarney and his partners invite diners to join in with the cooking, which we willingly obliged. The Canadian will plan the menu, or diners can bring in their own chefs.

Guests are recommended to reveal their dietary requirements to Ledarney, a former chef to Canadian diplomats across Asia. We went gluten-free and he came up with a delicious three-course menu. The venue is also BYOB.

We started with a glass of wine and canapés of farmer’s cheese curds with parmesan crisps and beer jelly. Then I put on an apron and assisted the chef with the starters of seared Hokkaido scallops with corn tasting and purple shiso chorizo. I picked up some invaluable tips on how to cook the perfect scallop as well as how to plate the ingredients - spacing and balancing the ingredients to look perfect on the plate is definitely an art.

The scallops were delicious and perfectly done with a symphony of flavours on the plate. The crunchy corn countered the smoothness of the scallops and sauce, which had a slightly spicy kick to it.

The guys took on the main course of Pacific cod braised in 2015 San Fabiano olive oil with fried sage and green pea pureé - again, it was cooked to perfection, tender fish with crispy sage.

We all joined in with the dessert, Umami matcha bun with fresh figs and Noble handcrafted tonic 1 bourbon-barrel matured maple syrup. It was a lot of fun.

We helped with squirting cream into the middle of the bun before it was cut in two and plated. It tasted amazing - the matcha bun was not too sweet, and the bourbon kick in the maple syrup was divine.

Although guests help with the cooking, there is a waiter who clears the dishes. He is also a partner in the business, as well as a photographer. His works are displayed in the restaurant.

Quality ingredients are important to Umami Concepts and they sell some of the Canadian ingredients at the venue, such as the Noble maple syrups.