Thursday, November 3, 2022

Happy Auor

I was curious how Chef Edward Voon’s new restaurant Auor would fare before we went for dinner one Saturday a few weeks ago. To be honest, I knew little about his cooking style or food with my only experience being a dinner tasting at his previous restaurant once a few years back. Turned out, I was pleasantly surprised. 

The location may be somewhat peculiar for a “fine-dining restaurant” – it’s inside a random commercial building in Wanchai, but other than that, the décor and settings were fittingly nice, and I particularly liked the minimalist design and dark lighting, and even better as they seated us (four in total) inside one of their private rooms on one side of the main dining area. Two tasting menus were offered during dinner service, and we opted for the longer one with 8 courses, but we said no to the offer to do the wine pairing and opted for one bottle of our own, and one from their menu. 

We began with a delightful amuse bouche of “Pei Dan Chawanmushi”. Inside a small ceramics bowl was egg custard mixed with bits of century eggs and salmon roes on top. Like the Japanese “chawanmushi” except it’s served cold and I like that distinctive century egg flavor mixed with the clean umami from the salmon roes. Our first proper course was next, with a beautifully done “roulade” was presented to us before being carved into blocs to serve in individual portion. The piece of ocean trout was slow-cooked and rolled, then topped with caviar and pickled green chili oil spooned underneath. 

After the bread services with three different brioche (including one made with Kaya which I like), chef showed off more of his skills of mixing Asian and western ingredients and techniques with his next dish of Abalone. The thin slices of Japanese Ezo Abalone was cooked and marinated with “Xiang Zao Lu 香糟鹵” – traditional Shanghainese marinate prepared with yellow rice wine lees – with thin noodles (somen) underneath. I like that touch of savory, mineral taste combined with pleasant aroma from the marinate sauce. 

The next course was described as “sui gow”, Chinese pork dumpling (usually served with soup) but instead, it’s a dumpling served on a scallop shell with Sakura ebi and fermented black bean sauce with scallops and whelk as filling. Again, the dish was filled with nice umami flavor. The “Tandoori Crab au Gratin” reminded me of the gold old crab dip more commonly seen in American East Coast cuisine, but here it’s done with French Comte cheese mixed in the picked crab meat, and on top, bits of chicken skin added to the crunchy texture and rich flavor. 

Felt like the sea bass dish was another tribute of chef’s background being a Singaporean, with the piece of Brittany sea bass fillet cooked in low temperature, and served with artichokes done two way and a laksa sauce with a hint of kick. The laksa leaf garnish also contributed to the overall taste as well. Carabineros was another dish prepared with traditional Chinese ingredients, with the piece of red prawn marinated with Fujian red glutinous rice liquor before serving with rice cooked in risotto style, with baby asparagus and prawn leg tempura as garnishes. The prawn came in good size and I like the firm texture. 

Our other main course was beef short ribs, cooked sous vide and served like a “steak au poivre” with crushed black pepper and tamarind black garlic on top with wine meat-jus reduction. On the side was eggplant smeared with Chinese doubanjiang (the fermented bean paste). Dessert was another beauty, served in a martini glass with layers of coconut cream, gula melaka and bits of tropical fruits and crispy sago, bringing us back to Southeast Asia. 

Overall, a pleasant dining experience and I appreciate the creativity and execution by the chef and his kitchen team. Don't know when I will be back to try more of his food, but I definitely will at some point, happily. 

When? September 24 2022
Where? Auor, 4/F, 88 Gloucester Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Ezo Abalone Xiang Zao Lu Somen, Shiso, Bouillabasse Aspic
Champagne Mumm "RSRV Cuvee 4.5" Grand Cru Brut (Bottled 2014, Disgorged 2021)
2017 Domaine de la Vougeraie Vougeot Clos du Prieure Rouge

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