Sunday, January 4, 2015

Going once, going twice...

We dropped by Neighborhood again in the evening before we left town for a short break over the new year. It was sort of a last minute/spur of the moment thing so we just walked in without a booking and took the only seats available at the bar area.

Originally we were planning to do something easy and simple but when Chef David mentioned he now got black truffles available, I simply couldn't resist after having a quick inspection of what he got in the box. We picked out a piece that was around 40g and ordered a few dishes as accompaniment - yeah, for some reasons a quick dinner has turned into a fancier truffle tasting meal.

As the restaurant ran on the concept of menu that changes frequently, this time we had dishes entirely different than out last visit (despite we essentially went through the whole menu then). This evening we started with a lardo toast, and I shaved the truffles a little thinner than usual not wanting to overwhelm the overall flavor and bring in the crunchiness with a thicker piece.
While white truffles with its unique, irresistable aroma works better with something "bland", black truffles which has a more earthy taste works better with fat and could stood up against something richer. And I think lardo and black truffles matched well. It's a simple dish - just whipped lardo spread on a toast - but it's a great way to start our "black diamond journey". 

We then moved on to the beef tartare which was easily our favorite this evening. The beef was of great quality, well-seasoned and with good amount of fat, and mixing that with the Japanese egg yolk, light shaves of parmesan cheese and of course a generous shavings of black truffles, we got a match made in heaven.

Our next course was beef again, this time, it's a roast wagyu ribeye and served with mashed potatoes. No doubt the beef was tender and juicy, but I felt like the main focus was on the buttery mashed potatoes seasoned with beef jus and black truffles. That was excellent - I almost felt like it would be just as good without the beef.

Chef David passed us a dish as we finished our roast (and didn't charge us for at the end). It's Boudin Basque (blood pudding) with melted pepper jack and smoked jalapeno. Even though I did say black truffles could stood up well against strong flavors, I think this will still be too rich to cover up the truffles so we had the dish without. I reckon only a few places and a few chefs in town could pull off a rustic dish like this and David is certainly one of them. It's overwhelmingly rich, filling with a spicy kick, but we kept on reaching out for more and more without even the need of any side dish to tone it down.

Seeing there's around one-third of truffles left at this point and certainly more room for food, we went for the tagliolini, cooked with just a simple butter sauce. I thought the noodles was a little under-seasoned but I like the texture of the homemade pasta with a good, eggy taste. I shaved the truffles a bit thicker, covered the entire dish, then mixed everything up completely with additional shaves of truffles. I personally would prefer the white truffle version of this dish with a more delicate flavor, but this is richer and tastier with crunchy bits of truffles in between.

We finally came to time for dessert. We loved the chocolate palette last time we were here so it's a no brainer we wanted a repeat. That plus 2 scoops of vanilla icecream, in which we shaved the remaining bits of truffles. The chocolate cake was as good as I remembered - rich, creamy and super delicious, but I personally preferred the icecream to be sweeter and more "yolky". This one was too pale and almost didn't feel like it was homemade (though I am sure it was), but it was still decadent with the addition of black truffles offering contrast in taste and textures. We haven't had David's canele since the Boulangerie Bistronomique days and they were great too - probably the best you would get anywhere.  

Feeling the need to clear up some stock from our wine fridge, we BYO for the evening. This is a bottle we carried back from Tuscany from the very vineyard we spent a week in, which was just released at the time of our visit 2 years ago. It's a 2007 vintage Brunello which I believe has slowly come to age 7 years later. Removed from the fridge immediately before leaving home and started drinking without decant. Opened up quite well through the middle of our meal, fairly aromatic with smokey tobacco on the nose, with dark cherry and light soy sauce on the palate. Rounded but not particularly tannic with a good, long finish. Already quite drinkable now but given its young age, I would wait a bit longer before opening the remaining bottles we got.

I loved our first visit to Neighborhood and I am happy to confirm that we loved it even more after our second visit. And we can't wait for the third, and the fourth and the fifth...

When? December 29 2014
Where? Neighborhood, G/F 61-63 Hollywood Road, Central (entrance at Man Hing Lane)
Menu Highlights? Beef Tartare with black truffles
Drinks? San Filippo Le Lucere Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2007

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