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In a state of hibernation. My backlog has long become unsustainable. Will probably tweet more and write less full-length stuff.

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Wednesday
Jul052006

Bo Innovation

I've just come back from Japan, and am making a brief pitstop here in SF before I head back to Asia. Two more HK meals before I get to the Japanese goodness.

 

boinnovation.jpg
A while back, tastingmenu clued me in on a restaurant called Bo Innovation. Once a somewhat shady eating establishment run out of a home, the place went legit and started up a proper restaurant in Central. My dad had checked it out already earlier this year and said it was quite an interesting place. I was quite eager to try this Hong Kong take on Chinese/Western fusion cuisine, especially after reading about Hillel's meal. The restaurant itself is very nice and modern, although the location is actually a little more hidden than I expected. The menu gives a few choices of small to big tastings. We opted for the Degustation, which offers a series of apps and a choice of a main dish. At HK$600, it actually looked more appealing than the more expensive Chef's Menu.

steamed buns with eggplant dip This was a fairly interesting implementation of bread. The smooth, smoky eggplant dip tasted remarkably like an eggplant dip at the beginning of our meal at Cafe Kor in Budapest; of course it was quite different with the steamed buns. Not bad.

crab meat salad, obha leaf mayo, marinated starfruit I thought this turned out to be one of the best dishes. The crab had a very light herby dressing that matched wonderfully with the sweet, slightly tart starfruit. The balls of ikura added a nice textural element.

clam, okra, crystal tomato jelly, "fuyu" foam Very, very interesting dish. For those unfamiliar, "fuyu" is a sort of tofu that's been fermented a little bit and usually comes in little jars. Chinese people like use it as something like a condiment for congee and such. It's something I've certainly never seen translated into any type of Western dish. The foam had a lot of fuyu flavor and was actually nicely balanced by the refreshing tomato jelly.

toro & ceps sushi, air dried foie gras, candied wasabi tomato Good, although the foie gras shavings didn't have quite as much foie flavor as I was hoping. The toro was of surprisingly good quality. I would have gladly eaten another piece...

grilled calamari, chilli, lime, ginger, spring onion sauce I was glad to see a big chunk of calamari... it feels like people don't serve it like that too often. The piece had a very nice charred flavor, and the sauce was tart and acidic. Nice combo.

pan roasted scallop, water chestnut, black sesame Another of my favorites from the night for sure, though the scallop itself was just par. The black sesame foam/sauce had a nice subtle flavor, and the water chestnuts were crisp and refreshing. Again, I don't think I've ever seen water chestnuts used in a Western style.

pan fried frog leg, truffle congee Frog legs, I've always thought, look and sound exotic but actually don't taste too special. Here, it was good, but I would have believed I was eating some kind of bird's leg just as easily. The congee, though, was quite special. Not quite as thick or chunky as a Chinese congee, this thing was more like a truffle soup, with a healthy dose of black truffle fragrance and flavor.

terrine of foie gras, black Chinese miso, pickled lotus root An interesting mix of flavors, but in my opinion not the most successful. The black miso was just too strong for me, and wasn't an excellent mix with the foie. The pickled lotus root was very cool - gari fans would love this stuff.

green apple "milkshake" served over dry ice I guess this was supposed to be some kind of palate cleanser before our mains (oddly, I'm blanking out on the order here, but I'm pretty sure it came right before our mains). Anyway, it was more for show than anything. We each got a bowl with a few small chunks of dry ice, and the waiter poured a milky green apple concoction over it which promptly started bubbling like a witch's brew. Drinking it with a small spoon, the stuff was ice cold and more like green apple milk than milkshake. Fun to watch though!

suckling pig two ways - crispy roasted and braised in jiangau vinegar with chestnut I chose the suckling pig for my main, having heard a good report about it from my dad. It was probably the best one on the table (others we tried were an ordinary squab and a pretty but unspectacular fish). The roasted piece was crackly and delicious. The braised bit had a thick, syrupy coating - almost like a Chinese balsamic vinegar with plenty of age. The flavor was very strong, and in fact I would have gladly used a bowl of white rice to soak it all up.

tonic sorbet with longan I guess they meant it was tonic water flavor or something, because the sorbet didn't have much taste. It was mild but very refreshing, and the longan mixed with a few strips of basil made for a nice palate cleanser.

dessert plate - coconut creme brulee, chocolate-stuffed sesame ball, citrus tart A decent set of desserts. The creme brulee was good but pretty standard. The sesame ball was very interesting, though not delicious. It was like a sesame ball you find when eating dim sum, but with a bit of chocolate at the center of the glutinous rice. I'm blanking on what that sheet is on top of the citrus tart, even though it was my favorite of the three. I'm pretty sure it was some exotic mild fruit. In any case, it was covering a nice lemon cream/custard, with the whole lot sitting on a nice flaky cracker.

Overall, I'd say it was a very interesting meal, but I'm not dying to go back. The killer dish that I wanted to try from Hillel's meal, the cheung fun with truffles, wasn't there anymore. The food was all pretty good, but nothing really blew me away. That said, I still think it's definitely worth going to see these extremely unusual combinations. I'm glad to see people are working with Chinese fusion. Japanese fusion is commonplace now, but you don't really see the same attempts at melding Chinese elements. Maybe this will be the start of something new.

Reader Comments (6)

The "sheet" on the tart - possibly dragonfruit? It looks like a wafer-thin slice of it. :)
Thursday, July 6, 2006 at 12:19AM | Unregistered Commentermochihead
Dragonfruit - that sounds right. :)
Thursday, July 6, 2006 at 7:38PM | Unregistered CommenterArthur Che
It was dragonfruit - good eye, mochihead!
Friday, July 7, 2006 at 7:49AM | Unregistered CommenterRaphael
while i do enjoy the well shot plate photos, I find your commentary to be seriously wanting. You rarely mention full ingredient lists or describe flavors. Instead, you state "i would gladly have another piece" or some similar personal endorsement as if your gastronomic knowledge and taste are universally accepted and acknowledged.
Saturday, July 15, 2006 at 11:50AM | Unregistered Commentermike
Sorry to disappoint, mike.
Saturday, July 15, 2006 at 10:33PM | Unregistered CommenterArthur Che
Thanks for the time you put into your site Arthur. I found it a couple of months ago and I am enthralled by the food you eat while you are outside the country. I learn a lot and am very entertained by your pictures. I don't understand people who go to blogs like this and then tactlessly criticize it. I'm sure you are open to suggestions and requests but come on people it'a a free website without pop ups nor advertising. Enjoy it for what it is. A chance to learn more about the culinary world. This website is a perfect example of the good things that are available on the internet.
Friday, September 8, 2006 at 5:13AM | Unregistered Commentermauricejohnson

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