Sunday, September 17, 2017

Late Summer at Caprice

Four months on since Chef Guillaume settled at the kitchen of Caprice of Four Seasons Hong Kong we saw another change of menu with even more new dishes being introduced by the team, just as we were about to say goodbye to the long summer season in the beginning of September. Like last time when we were here a couple months ago, we left it entirely to him to decide on the menu for us and we had a blast with a series of delightful dishes.

The most remarkable changes came from the diversity of cooking styles and ingredients. That started with the trio of amuse-bouche bites, with a mini tartlet of marinated tuna topped with dashi jelly and tobiko roes, spherified bell pepper espuma on a cracker, plus a mini puff with curry chicken stuffing. That was quickly followed with yet another course served in bite-size portion, which is a spoonful of langoustine tartare served in a cute spoon which looked like a langoustine. I thought it was a tad bit heavy on the mint which was added in, but nonetheless the fresh, umami taste from the langoustine still stood out.

More shellfish dish came our way, this time the Alaskan king crab leg served with mango, snow peas and coconut veloute, plated in a porcelain bowl in the shape of a crab shell. It was a great summer appetizer dish with the light and refreshing taste, almost transposed us from the elegant dining room to the gorgeous beach in Bali, metaphorically speaking.

We had a couple more seafood dishes with ingredients sourced from Japan. Squid may be one of the most overlooked ingredients coming from the sea, but it was grilled in whole perfectly, topped with orange zest and carved at the tableside and shared among the two of us. On the plate the squid was paired with zucchini flower stuffed with the soft lobster mousse/quenelle, zucchini puree and champagne sauce. I love the clean flavor using the freshest ingredients from the land and sea with the right accent of after-taste from the dried black olive powder on top of the zucchini flower and the orange zest from the squid.

I saw the batch of chilled fish coming to the kitchen on chef's Instagram page the other day and we were glad that one of them ended up on our plate. Nodoguro, or black-throat seaperch fillet was steamed with the beautiful rosy skin on. Underneath the white flesh was delicate without being overly fatty. On top was scores of vegetables and herbs - artichokes, cucumber, tomato and coriander - minimally seasoned but added to the overall flavor and texture of the dish. The best part was the shrimp consommé poured in. It's deceivingly intense with a touch of refreshing acidity (of lemon or sudachi juice perhaps? probably doubled as clarifying agent too) At the core it's still very much traditional French cooking techniques, but I felt like this was taken from a page in the washoku playbook too. I reckon this worked perfectly in a tasting menu with just the right portion and twist of flavor.

Our main course of quail came from the weekend set lunch menu. Quail breast was rolled into a roulade, wrapped with the skin and cooked sous-vide. On the side were sautéed cepes mushrooms which were in season, pearl onions, baby radish, mushroom coulis, a quail egg cooked sunny-side up and a spoonful of natural jus. I was very impressed by the theatrical presentation and wonderful flavor using such straight-forward preparation.

If there's such a thing as an encore performance in a lunch, this would be it. After we finished our main course with our table cleared up, chef brought over another dish - the lamb shoulder confit in tasting portion, our encore course of sort. It's slow-cooked with masala sauce and topped with eggplant caviar and cauliflower floret bits. It's similar to what we had last time but I thought this time the meat was less gamey with a more balanced taste with the spices blended in.

We only managed a small samples of cheese this time (with the usual suspects of the well-aged Comte and Mimolette) before we moved on to the dessert. The oolong tea jelly, peach brunoise and peach tea sorbet was a lovely palate cleanser with the right sweetness, before Chef Nicolas brought us his newest dessert. Molten chocolate cake is always a crowd pleaser at just about every other restaurants in town, and then there's this unique version of chocolate moelleaux which was in a league of its own.

On top of the soft chocolate cake with the oozy center was the rich caramel, vanilla icecream, milk chocolate espuma, and bits of cocoa nibs and crushed Tonka beans. The dramatic presentation was complete with thinner-than-paper chocolate wafer wrapped around like a grand flower bouquet. And despite so many components that went in, they all worked in perfect harmony.

More pictures on my Flickr album:

When? September 9 2017
Where? Caprice, Level 6, Four Seasons Hong Kong, 8 Finance Street, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Nodoguro, Shrimp Consomme, Tomato, Artichokes and Cucumber
Drink: Champagne Diebolt-Vallois Cuvée Prestige Blanc de Blancs NV

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