Sunday, March 1, 2020

Happy Birthday, Belon!

Chef Dan was reminding everyone on his Instagram post that Belon was celebrating its 4th anniversary in mid-February, and so happened that was the very day we were planning to visit the restaurant for dinner. Of course this is totally out of coincidence - if there's any specific reason to visit on that day it's the cheap skate side of us wanting to celebrate Valentine's Day the night before to avoid the crowd and any special V-day menu that we may get stuck with.

These days we spent way more time eating at home than dining out, so this came as a refreshing change being able to sit down at the table wearing something other than our PJs. The restaurant was lively as usual, with almost all tables occupied (a rare sight in local restaurant scene these days), but thankfully they were still able to seat us when we arrived slightly ahead of our reservation time.

We went for the late dinner menu as part of their week-long "Black Series" promotion, and it's sort of an abbreviated version of their tasting menu with the few of their classic signature dishes. And Dan was kind enough to throw in some extra dishes on top for us plus switching a few from the original menu with some new dishes they recently introduced to make the meal more interesting for us.

But we started off with a series of familiar ones - with the thick slice of sourdough bread with butter, bigorre sausages and gougere with Comte. Love the gougere served still warm from the oven with lovely rich flavor and soft texture. The oyster tartare is a mini-version of the one on the a la carte menu, served in a small porcelain bowl instead of oyster shell and sans the caviar, and I like the balance of acidity with the creamy texture and strong umami taste from the bits of oysters mixed with aioli espuma and crouton bits on top.

Then we have a few new dishes served in small portions. The tiny piece of cod tarama tartlet has a sharp taste with karasumi (cured mullet roes) and diced mitsuba (Japanese parsley) on top providing the hint of herbaceous and umami tastes. I felt the deep-fried shirako was perfect as introduction for those who's not familiar with this special Japanese ingredient. Just think of it as a creamier version of fish and chips and served with gribiche sauce.

The pop-sized mushroom barbajuan and the mini Violino squash ravioli were two straight forward dishes but perfectly executed. The former looked like a ravioli deep-fried with cep duxelles stuffed inside and server with Comte dipping sauce, and the latter was piped with sweet butternut squash puree and served with creamy pumpkin sauce and roasted pumpkin seeds. I love both for the clean flavor.

First time we had the saba dish here, with the piece of saba (mackerel) cured with Thai basil and served with pickled vegetables a la escabeche on the side. I like the fatty texture of the fish matched well by the acidity from the condiments. We skipped chicken last time but happy to have the whole bird by ourselves this time around. Served with the chicken jus reduction, peas and potatoes as usual and great as always.

Went with the wine pairing recommended by Kevin their new sommelier this time. Started with a glass of champagne, then 2 white and a red as we moved along the dinner courses. Love the Cotes du Rhone Blanc the most - medium-bodied, golden amber color, apricot and some mineral on the palate and gripped with acidity. Good with the few dishes in the middle of our dinner.

"Will there be a cake?" I casually asked Dan on his IG post about Belon's birthday. No special cake but I thought their new version of Mille Feuille is awesome, with bergamot cream and meringue thins sandwiched between the light and crisp puff pastry. It's been a great run for the restaurant now heading into its fifth year, and many more to come for the team I am sure.

More photos:

When? February 13 2020
Where? Belon, 41 Elgin Street, Soho, Central, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Roasted Chicken with "Petits Pois a la Francaise"
Champagne Vilmart & Cie, Grande Reserve Premier Cru NV
2016 Domaine Vincent Latour, Bourgogne Chardonnay
2015 Domaine Coste Chabrier "L'Arbousier" Cotes du Rhone Blanc
2012 Chateau du Roc Cotes de Bordeaux Castillon

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