Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Pre-Holiday Surprise Feast

We intentionally didn’t make a fuss of telling Chef Dan Calvert in advance that we were coming to his restaurant a few weeks back (meant to be a surprise), but glad to see him and his team working hard in the kitchen as we walked into Belon at Soho just right before Christmas and for the first time since the place was awarded one Michelin star (and a well-deserved one). Our friend V was in town briefly and she made the booking to meet up with some of our other friends for some good food and wines.

We made our way up the escalator after a quick after-work drink at Caprice and arrived right on time for our reservation time and just when we were told the table was ready. I was surprised to be led into the annex level upstairs where a table was set up just for the 8 of us – guess with a big party like ours it’s easier for them to seat us there, especially when the restaurant was busy as ever given the holiday seasons and the new-found fame. First time I was upstairs actually and it was spacious and comfortable with a rustic theme, plus being right next door to the cold kitchen means we got this pleasant smell from all the pastries coming out from there in the dining room all night long.

Menu has been pre-arranged and roughly based on the seasonal a la carte menu available at the time of our visit, with a mix of new and old dishes. After the amuse-bouche bites and some Bigorre sausages over the sourdough bread, we began with a few seafood dishes served in tasting portion. The oyster tartare was mildly mineral and very creamy, and the small bowl of sweet shrimp mousse topped with Chinese celery and caviar has good umami flavor and a sharp acidity. And it's a notch up in luxury scale from our last outing with a similar dish. The savory puff pastry mille-feuille was an interesting one, with nori and sorrel cream as filling and plenty of salmon roes (ikura) – I love such unusual combination of ingredients and flavors.

The foie gras au torchon went back to the traditional French bistro cooking style, and it was perfectly prepared and served with preserved blackberries on the side with thick slices of brioche. It was followed by the scallops with shio kombu and pomelo, something we had in our previous visit and loved. Of course it has to be chicken as our main course. Would be a lie to say this one was the absolutely best I have had at the restaurant (and we had quite a few already this year alone) but then it’s still prepared and done in very high level, and the side dish of petits pois a la Francaise was delicious as usual.

Had a couple encore dishes after we wiped clean the chicken dish, which were the basil scarpinocc with burrata and fruit tomatoes and the pigeon pithivier to share, and both we enjoyed much. We were completely stuffed by then so we asked for our desserts to go, and they prepared us fancy boxes to bring home to. Had the chocolate tart the next day and it was brilliant – so smooth and sweet, and of course, the unforgettable mille-feuille that I took a sneak peak at how it’s made at the kitchen next door as I walked by. So good to be here, as always.

More pictures can be found in my Flickr album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/g4gary/albums/72157705153704275

When? December 21 2018
Where? Belon, 41 Elgin Street, Soho, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Pigeon Pithivier
2016 Domaine Dominique Gyuon Bougogne Hautes Cotes de Nuits "Les Dames de Vergy"
2016 Azienda Agricola Arianna Occhipinti "Il Frappato" Terre Siciliane IGT
Web: belonsoho.com

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