Tuesday, June 7, 2022


I struggled with finding the right words to best describe Chef Eric Raty’s cooking style after our lovely dinner at his restaurant Arbor in recent weeks. Nothing much has changed in terms of interior since our last visit a while back, but Chef Eric told us that the kitchen has been remodeled to cater some of the changes he made in the menu. 

The “Full Arbor Experience” was the menu we picked, with 10 courses listed only by the main ingredient. The warm brioche served with soy sauce-infused whipped butter was always a great way to start – we have to stopped ourselves from overly indulging on those, knowing much more dishes were coming our way. 

Our first course of “Edamame and Caviar” was described as a “cold chawanmushi” – on top was edamame (seasoned with a touch of wasabi?), with pomelo, caviar and sudachi zest, and underneath soft custard with shrimp broth with good combination of umami, acidic and mineral flavors. “Kohada” was the course presented as nigiri sushi – a bit unusual to see this at a western restaurant, but it did remind me of the Nordic-style pickled fish with the piece of well-carved gizzard shad fillet aged and pickled before serving. 

Tomatoes were done in three different ways in our next dish, with a piece of sweet fruit tomato topped with a small quenelle of tomato sorbet and shiso leaves then dressed with tomato water and kombu oil. It’s refreshing and an umami bomb no doubt, and then it’s a piece of ankimo (monkfish liver) steamed and served in a red wine reduction. While I thought it would be better if the tomato dish was served AFTER the ankimo but both dishes were delicious.

The bonito course was great, with a piece of aged skipjack tuna (bonito, or katsuo in Japanese) served in a crepe topped with pickled mustard seeds and soy powder with another piece done tataki style and served on the side. I like the firm texture of the fish contrasting with the soft pancake on top. The abalone was the first warm dish served with a piece of Japanese kuruawabi (“black” abalone) served with a piece of new potato and creamy espuma underneath. I like the hearty flavor and the starchy sweet taste from the potato and the rich sauce balanced well with the piece of steamed abalone. 

I could have easily mistaken our next course of scallop as something coming from a Spanish or Mediterranean restaurant, with the piece of well-seared Hokkaido scallop served in scores of rich flavor from the corn velouté, squid ink, cured egg yolk and chili butter emulsion. It’s then followed by the second main course of king salmon served with petite pois, poached asparagus, dehydrated shiso leaves and the light sake and wine espuma. The salmon was perfectly done with the pinkish color and soft texture. And I enjoyed the pairing of the fruit-forward, medium-bodied Chateauneuf-du-Pape with the rich scallop dish.

Three desserts were served for sharing, with crème caramel, warabimochi (Japanese sweet made of tapioca starch) with chocolate shavings, and the genmaicha (toasted tea) ice-cream topped with caviar. Of course, there’s also the dacquoise and madeleine as petit fours, both of which were outstanding (probably the best in town, I would go as far as saying)

Back to the question at the beginning. “Fusion” seems to be the first word that came to mind but that’s not exactly it. Cooking inspired by Nordic and Japanese cuisines was obvious given Chef Eric’s background, but then I can also see traits of other styles evident throughout the meal. And they all came natural to me, unlike some fusion cooking which led to ones scratching our heads. That combined with top ingredients sourced and precise execution by the kitchen team made this an unique dining experience and gave us a glimpse of chef’s own life journey through the dishes presented. That would be my way of describing it.

More photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/g4gary/albums/72177720298706181 

When? May 3 2022
Where? Arbor, 25/F, H Queen's, 80 Queen's Road Central, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Edamame and Caviar
Champagne Jacquesson Cuvee n 744 Extra Brut NV
2019 Philipp Kuhn Riesling vom Kalksteinfels, Pfalz, Germany
2014 Clos du Mont-Olivet Chateauneuf-du-Pape

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