Wednesday, December 12, 2018

White Truffles and Company

A few weeks ago we were back at Neighborhood for another epic meal. After our meal at Belon in late September, we plotted for another dinner gathering and this casual bistro helmed by our friend and chef David Lai was our choice. And it came right at the prime of the traditional white truffles season so we ended up having a few dishes that were served with the piece of white truffles we picked from Chef David’s stash which he got from his supplier regularly.

Weekend was as busy as ever at this restaurant but they managed to seat us right on time at the long table in the backroom as we arrived for the late dinner seating. Chef David was there in the kitchen so naturally we left it all to him to work out our menu, but first came first, we got to choose the white truffle. The restaurant sold it by the whole piece at a pretty decent price and this time we ended up with one that’s around 120g – just the perfect size for the 8 of us.

Ended up we didn’t have a particularly heavy meal this time – at least in our standard – but all were excellent, as always. We began our evening with the refreshing flounder ceviche. It’s very straight-forward preparation, slightly cured and served with a mixture of citrus zest and a squeeze of kabosu (bitter orange) juice. Next were the buffalo chicken wings with Roquefort and the frog leg meuniere – both we have tried previously and loved (and still do!)

Truffles is not the only mushroom species in its prime during the fall season, and we had a couple more dishes on that. The meaty porcini was chopped and sautéed with parsley and then the whole matsutake mushrooms were battered and deep-fried, Japanese Kushikatsu style. That one was amazing – I never expected crashing something as rich as the matsutake mushroom (in flavor and aroma) would work with an equally rich preparation such as putting on a heavy coating of batter and dump in a deep-frying pan. Somehow the dash of kabosu does the trick for the balanced flavor.

With our white truffles, Chef David prepared a couple of dishes for us – first the saffron risotto then the tagliolini with butter. I personally like the tagliolini slightly better, with the milder flavor highlighted the excellent aroma from that of the white truffles shaved on top. I preferred the white truffles to be slightly thicker than usual on my pasta - I wanted some texture, or I was just a little greedy - so I resorted to do the shaving myself.

Shirako and cauliflower was a new dish that we had this time. A touch of genius really putting together these two ingredients and simply pan-fried with salt and balanced with a touch of acidity and capers - that's all it's needed for the combination of the rich and creamy shirako (or cod milt) with the crunchy and mild cauliflower. Some called this an acquired taste; I called this taste of heaven.

Chicken or the paella was our usual choice for main course here, but this time it’s boar (the Basque Kintoa) baked with root and aromatic vegetables. The meat was full of gamey flavor and with firm texture, and another good bit came with the rice cooked in a casserole and served on the side, done with the meat jus mixed in. Loved those crispy bits that stuck to the pot and the pungent flavor coming from the jus.

There were a bit of white truffles left for our dessert courses, and we ended up with three different types this time. The creamy ice cream was always a good match to the white truffles, and I thought the chocolate palette worked equally well. Tarte Tatin was the seasonal dessert item at the restaurant and it was excellent – probably the best I have tried in any restaurant in town.

Had a few wines to go around – the vintage champagne was great to start, followed by a white from Loire Valley (well with the lighter dishes including the white truffle ones) then a couple red. The Solaia was perfect for the wild boar with the full-bodied, ripe flavor – delightful as always. So was the company.

When? November 17 2018
Where? Neighborhood, Man Hing Lane near Hollywood Road/Peel Street junction, Central, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Homemade Tagliolini with White Truffles
2008 Champagne Moet and Chandon Grand Vintage Brut
2009 Chateau Soucherie Anjou Blanc
2014 Moccagatta Barbaresco DOCG
2007 Marchesi Antinori "Solaia" Toscana IGT

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Shirako - Why not explain to your readers exactly what it is - Fish SPUNK