Star Studded Dining Adventures in Hong Kong

Hong Kong

1. Bo Innovation
Chef/owner Alvin Leung, raised in Scarborough, is not weighed down by the restraints of conventional wisdom. Forget any preconceived notions and prepare for a flight of fancy with the Demon Chef’s X-Treme Cuisine. The welcome is formal but not pretentious, friendly but not assuming. “It’s very personal and from my distinct perspective,” says Leung, “it’s about what I know of Hong Kong from when I arrived as a kid to now.” But it doesn’t stop at the kitchen. The last of the Made-In-Hong Kong Masters was commissioned to custom-make soup bowls and plates, hand-paint teapots, forge dinner knives. Leung is “all-in.”

“Child’s Play” is the focus of today’s menu. After seven tiny, x-treme courses, I stop counting, and just admire and taste. Each morsel is eloquent with mysterious flavours. Dishes with names like Ode to the Dragon, Bamboo Matrix, Back on the Street, and No Sharkfin are presented with pride. A white-gloved server shaves black truffles over a dish; hairy crab puree is served in a baby food jar; a silver cloche is lifted to reveal an arrangement of fruits and ices. Who knows what tomorrow’s 3 Michelin Star menu will offer.

Duddells, Hong Kong2. Duddells
Following a fork in the road, I come to the Shanghai Tang Mansion and Duddles, a beautiful, 2 Michelin Star fine-dining classic Cantonese restaurant. But first, we realize that there is a creative aspect here outside of cuisine, an art gallery that presents exhibits and hosts events. Lovely.

Servers show concern for our physical com- fort, as well as assist us in planning a meal that will give us pleasure. The large square room has a modern, luxurious and elegant ambience, with ’50s American music at a most tolerable level. Tiny goldfish orchids are in abundance, and highlight the long, peachy-gold velvet banquet.

Double boiled vegetarian soup with matsutaki mushrooms, bamboo pith and Chinese garlic is a perfect example of true Cantonese cuisine. This broth has been made with extreme care and patience, and presents crystal clear and intense. Steamed fish is utterly fresh and light; homemade tofu is quivering light custard; Crabmeat with roe, and freshly steamed aspar- agus allows the true flavours of the ingredients shine. Dessert? Classic Cantonese hot almond soup, with two squares of Osmanthus flower jelly, ends a meal, which can only be described as beautiful food, prepared with grace and served with dignity.

VEA, Hong Kong3. VEA Restaurant & Lounge
Get ready to be enthralled. This long and narrow room is a one of a kind design with four semi-circle bars crafted of marble. From comfy bar stools, we all face an open kitchen. About a dozen chefs and staff, who appear to have been groomed by GQ magazine, work with quiet discipline, focus and skill, creating fascinating culinary theatre.

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Place settings are fun: a rock, napkin and a scattering of leaf-shaped, herb-flavoured crisps. A bronzed envelope holds today’s menu. Let the games begin.

Ten courses, each a surprising thrill to the palate, are served in extraordinary vessels: applewood smoke rises from a bird’s nest that holds two tiny quail eggs; delicate short-necked clam with micro tomato, marble size balls of burrata ice cream, purple flowers and mint. I am eating beauty. Australian Wagyu short rib with winter melon, girolles and garlic chives is a carnivore’s fantasy. Nearing the end, refreshing pink pomelo with cucumber, goji and chrysanthemum. Traditional Hong Kong recipes are re-interpreted through French technique. It’s mesmerizing to watch the chefs plate meticulously with giant tweezers. Mignardises are presented in a huge, silk-ribbon wrapped ball with three sections. Outstanding are the Sichuan Citrus Brownie and, as homage to a mentor, Daniel Boulud, an orange and earl grey Madeleine.

The motivational phrase on the chalkboard is telling: Team Work makes the Dream Work. The great adventure of Exec Chef Vicky Cheng has taken him from Scarborough to a Michelin star restaurant in Hong Kong.

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