Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Black and White

I returned to Restaurant Akrame for the second time this month and this time, for the special menu presented by their owner-chef Akrame Benallal and Philippe Orrico from On Dining/Upper Modern Bistro. It’s an interesting collaboration, combining the creative minds of the culinary teams from the two wonderful independent restaurants in town, which have steadily built up their reputation (and recognition from near and far)

The dinner ran along the theme of black and white, and the two chefs created new dishes along that theme - Akrame for black and Philippe for white - and present them in a 7-course tasting menu for two evenings only. The first night was at Chef Philippe’s Upper Modern Bistro, and the second night – the one we went – was held at Chef Akrame’s namesake restaurant.

We began with the trio of bite-sized amuse-bouche, similar to the ones we had previously at the restaurant. The thin disc of daikon on top of a round parmesan crisp was an interesting one, served with a dab of sauce on top giving this a sharp flavor. Then the rest of the courses were presented alternatively in black and white themes. Our first course of Geay Oyster, served raw on its shell with vodka lemon granita, may not be the most innovative combination, but I like the subtle but creamy oyster matched with the charcoal-colored, zesty granita.

The second course of risotto looked ordinary (or even bland at first) but was packed with fresh flavors. The rice was cooked with clear broth with yellow tomato water and cream and served with pieces of langoustines mixed in, adding to the texture and taste of the sea. The inclusion of sansho pepper powder – the mild Japanese spice known for its aroma and a mild tinkling sensation on the tongue - in the rice was a genius touch, giving the dish an extra kick and surprise factor. Turned out that’s my favorite dish of the evening.

The black snapper fillet was another dish I liked a lot that evening. The fish was cooked gently (probably sous-vide) with the skin on, giving the dish a lovely hue of red from the soft fish skin. And the firm and delicate fillet contrasted well with the rich beetroot sauce and bits of sautéed rhubarb underneath, bringing in a hint of sweetness.

The "cheese course" served after our main course of guinea fowl was a fun touch, with the strong goat cheese foam and the crushed paper-thin crisp (in black color) served on top of a spoonful of mountain honey in a rimmed glass. And the pair of dessert was done black & white style, and I liked that simple bowl of coconut espuma served with passionfruit coulis underneath with a slight touch of caramel for a sweet but well-balanced flavor.

Over the course of the meal Chef Akrame dropped by at our table and shared with us some of his plans to revamp the restaurant, with new décor, menu offering, and promised he will drop by Hong Kong more often. From what we have tried that evening, we should expect even better things to come.

More photos on my Flickr album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/g4gary/albums/72157674152619226

(Dinner was by invitation)

When? September 22 2016
Where? Restaurant Akrame, 9B Ship Street, Wanchai, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? White Risotto, Yellow Tomato Water, Langoustines, Sansho Pepper
Drinks?
2014 Jean-Luc et Paul Aegerter Saint-Veran
2014 Domaine Henri Perrusset Macon-Villages "Selection Vieilles Vignes"
Chateau Clos Dady Sauternes
Web: www.akrame.com.hk


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