Saturday, November 16, 2019

For Wellness' Sake

At first I wasn't quite sure about Asaya Kitchen at the new Rosewood Hong Kong when I received an invitation for a dinner tasting recently. With its emphasis on "wellness gastronomy" or "health-conscious fare", it sounded like the menu would be filled with just avocado, quinoa and Brussels sprouts (obviously not my BFF ingredients). But I figure it wouldn't hurt giving it a shot before passing the judgment.

This new hotel by the Kowloon harborside, along with the attached shopping mall/complex (K11 Musea) has been getting a lot of buzz lately with its state-of-the-art, spare-no-expense design. I am impressed from the moment I pulled up to the front door to being led through the lobby into the restaurant on the sixth floor. The restaurant shared the same floor with the spa and gym, with separate indoor and outdoor dining areas. At the center of the restaurant is the open kitchen, where all the food was prepared, whilst outside there's a bar plus the infinity pool with the gorgeous skyline view (one of the many swimming pools available for hotel guests - lucky bastards)

I felt Chef Renaud Marin and his team should have no complaint working in such a comfortable environment with the spacious and well-equipped kitchen. A la carte menu is available for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and at night, they also serve a "tasting menu" called A Taste of Asaya with dishes that change daily depending on ingredients available to ensure they were fresh and seasonal. When I heard of the word "wellness" I keep thinking about the food being healthy, but turned out it's only part of the story. Throughout the course of the evening Chef Renaud shared with us the different aspects of the restaurant's culinary philosophy through the dishes he prepared for us, including sustainability, low carbon footprint, head-to-tail cooking and more.

In terms of regional specialty, the restaurant is said to be drawing inspiration from Mediterranean and Japanese cooking styles, and those showed as we began our dinner with flatbread crisp and hummus (one of the better hummus I have tried in town), followed by the sea bream carpaccio salad with lettuce, carrot, sesames and citrus dressing. The local fish was cut slightly thicker than normal and the dressing was done with less acidity, hence there's a firmer texture and rounded flavor. Gai Lan (Chinese kale) is found in just about any local food market all year long, but this sure ain't everyday dish when it's served grilled with ricotta, hazelnut and the generous shavings of seasonal white truffles offering good aroma.

I did find the mushroom tea slightly odd - nothing wrong with the taste with intense flavor of mushroom consomme served in a bowl with raw corn kernels, threads of soba noodles and pea and shoot, but I felt the corn and noodles didn't do much to the overall flavor nor texture. Chef came over with our main course dish of tuna loin and explained to us how no part of ingredients went to waste in preparing the dish, with the chunk of tuna loin went through some aging, grilled mi cuit and served on a bed of homemade sauerkraut and bits of razor clams with a tuna "sausage". The most tender part of the fish, the sustainable yellowfin tuna coming from The Philippines, was cut into fillets and cooked whole, while the rest were either turned into a broth, or finely chopped and formed the "sausage" wrapped with nori. The sauerkraut was again prepared with the loose bit of the fresh vegetables, went through fermentation in house, and served with bits of sauteed razor clams. It's rich but homey, and good to know no part of any ingredients were left to waste.

We finished with two desserts, following the same home-style (and healthy) theme. First was yogurt icecream with thin slices of candied pineapples and honey, then the rice pudding with dried lychee and rose petals. Both with refreshing flavor and done with just the right sweetness but lots of other interesting flavor. The restaurant featured exclusively organic and/or biodynamic wines, and the two bottles we tried were decent, including the pretty full bodied riesling and the light, easygoing beaujolais.

It turned out to be better than I thought - that's for sure, and it's a decent alternative to the generic all-day dining option often found in hotels. Also glad to know it's good for your health, and good to the earth too.

When? November 7 2019
Where? Asaya Kitchen, Level 6, The Rosewood Hong Kong, Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Road, TST, Kowloon
Menu Highlights? Grilled 6-day Aged Tuna Loin, Smoked Sauerkraut, Razor Clams, Tuna Sausage
2018 Josmeyer Riesling "Le Kottabe", Alsace
2018 Anthony Thevenet Beaujolais "Chenas"

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