[Hong Kong, Wanchai] Bo Innovation 廚魔- Molecular Cantonese


#1

Bo Innovation is Alvin Leung’s ‘Cantonese’ restaurant utilizing modernist techniques and on occasion Western ingredients. This is a report of a recent tasting menu lunch.

Gai dan jai/ egg waffle with Iberico ham and scallion. A savory version of the Cantonese street food egg waffle, which I snacked on throughout the meal. Tasted ok.

A morel mushroom flake, which was smokey and slightly bitter with a tender piece of iberico ham that was aged 48 days on top of a relatively piece of bland kinki sashimi and garlic tofu with potato and garlic sauce. Somewhat bland dish.

Shrimp oil made from simmering dried shrimp in vegetable oil for 48 hours to be drizzled onto the next dish. Fragrant.

The wonton/ ravioli, filled with Brittany blue lobster with truffle paste and pieces on top, was very savory and delicious. The lobster was also made into a tartare with pieces of sun dried tomatoes in the dish. The shrimp oil, which I liberally drizzled onto the dish, also added to the taste.

Corn with browned pine nut, walnut mixed with corn sauce. Pat chun vinegar from Hong Kong was added to the sauce. The light yellow piece on top was made from sweet corn (and tasted like corn) and the brown piece was made from roasted cauliflower marinated with pomelo vinegar. The sauce had a sweet, nutty taste that was pretty complex and tasty.

Molecular xiao long bao. The various tastes of a typical XLB was made into the juicy blob- pork slow cooked into a condensed broth and made into a ball that burst when bitten into, with a red stripe of vinegar soaked ginger on top. It tasted somewhat close to a XLB. The technique was admirable, though I think a regular XLB would do just fine for me.

Fermented vegetable (mui cai) icecream. The icecream was pretty close to a salted caramel ice cream with the mui cai providing the saltiness and a bit of sharpness from the Zhenjiang vinegar. The tasteless cherry was marinated with a mild Zhenjiang vinegar. The mushy texture of the cherry didn’t quite work for me, perhaps its a result of the marinating. The foie was there, but had a tough time blending in.

Mou tai with the butterfly pea flower providing the blue color and the hawthorn adding a slight tangy sweet taste. Nice.

Suckling pig leg was perfect roasted- succulent and tender inside and crispy outside. Perfectly marinated. Fatty, rich, and delicious. The Japanese water veg was dressed with ginger and Zhenjiang vinegar as dressing. It was pretty delicious, with a bit of sharpness and sweetness. The pineapple was roasted on a split with Sichuan peppercorn added to the sauce though I didn’t detect any. Not sure if one was to combine the three components- pig, veg and pineapple- in specific ways.

A locally made Chan Chi Kee knife was provided to cut the leg.

This dish was a play on the local dish abalone chicken congee. Carnaroli rice aged for 9 years was cooked al dente (a bit firm for me for rice) with chicken oil/ soup into a risotto. Impossibly rich and decadent by itself, and more so with the addition of shaved foie and abalone.

What was described to me in Cantonese as ‘gui yeuk’ was the substitute to shark fin. Mango sorbet was tangy, sweet and delicious on top of a coconut base with some dried mango sprinkled on top.

Overall the meal was solid. There wasn’t a dish that soared to Hong Kong skyscraper heights but there were three that stood out for me- the pig, the ravioli and the corn dish. Flavors and seasonings were measured. Leung was not in the house. Kudos to the kitchen for starting something different that few were/ are doing with Cantonese cuisine, though I’d like to see more memorable dishes/ flavors on the lunch tasting menu.

Service was attentive with lots of servers and food runners. and lots of cooks in the kitchen. The server’s knowledge of the dish was ok, but he needed to ask the kitchen a few times when probed. As soon as one dish was finished, another appeared.

Hong Kong oldie music was playing in the dining room- Paula Tsui, Roman Tam, etc.

The pass:

Kitchen, with glass windows to the dining room:

The bar:

Tasting menu, which was what I had:

Set lunch menu:


(Peter) #2

Great review!

Alvin Leung’s style has really matured and become much more refined these days. I still remembered the time I first tried his cooking - back in 2005 thereabouts? It was still called Bo Innoseki although Alvin Leung had just bought it from the Japanese owner-chef who started it.

I had Alvin’s deconstructed HK “lap mei fun” - Chinese waxed meat-and-sausages ice-cream in an ice-cream cone made out of pounded rice. It was followed by durian fried rice - which was pretty underwhelming for someone like me, coming out of Singapore, where we eat mounds of fresh durians with glutinous rice and lashings of sweetened coconut milk.

Would certainly like to try Bo Innovation again soon.


#3

I would like to try that suckling pig leg! I just checked, Alvin Leung got promoted to 3 stars since 2014.

I agree with @klyeoh about the improvement and maturity of the chef, I just looked at the pictures of my meal back in 2009, it was much simpler, more like a dim sum meal with different courses. I only remembered the XLB course and it was impressive, but I still prefer the real XLB with the meat and juice.

Just for fun: Lunch menu, July, 2009.

No menu photographed, couldn’t do that with a GoPro. Didn’t have phone on me that day as we went to the beach afterwards.


#4

Really? I have no idea. I thought they have 2 stars. They don’t choose how many stars they got. The meal doesn’t feel 3 stars, but its not priced like 3 stars.


#5

They had camera phones back in 2009?

From your pictures, the 2009 dishes really looked simple. Did they do something fancy with the ingredients inside back then?


#6

Oh the food looks pretty interesting though it still doesn’t seem to reach the whimsy of Alinea (at least the first version, never been to its new iteration).

I recall looking at the menu of Bo Innovation during my 2016 visit and wasn’t too fond of some items (or well the price tag), but chose to go to one of his side restaurants MIC Kitchen at … Ngau Tau Kok I think. Got to try their molecular XLB and like you guys thought it was reminiscent of an XLB but would rather just have an actual dumpling. I’ll try to dig up pictures of my meal there and attach it to this topic…


#7

Of course and iPhone was introduced in 2007! And before that even the non smart phones had low resolution cameras…But I was a hopeless neurotic, didn’t want to leave my phone on the beach when swimming.

You mean more expansive ingredients? Much less compared to yours, there were the scallops and the prawn…, it was fine cooking, but less twist except the XLB. But bear in mind that your meal was a tasting menu and mine was a set lunch menu. I don’t recall the price, must be half the price of your menu. What I feel lacking was a “meat dish” like pigeon or pig leg, like your case. I wasn’t particularly impressed by my meal.

Stars are about service, decoration and food.

To judge a meal is good, one indication is if you want to go back. In your case, what’s your conclusion?