Monday, February 13, 2023

Big Group Gathering

We had dinner at Neighborhood just a couple of weeks ago with a big group of friends (thanks to our friend P who put this together rounding up the group and working with the chef for the menu). We were happy to be back even though Chef David was not around this time – after all it’s been a while since our last visit to the restaurant. 

Plenty of high points with so many dishes served that kept us well-fed and satisfied. The puy lentils and caviar seemed like an odd combination but it was an enjoyable as a starter. The slightly crunchy puy lentils with its mild earthy flavor worked well with the caviar with nice umami and mineral flavor. A "small" threadfin fish was served cold which reminded me of the traditional chiuchow way of cooking and serving this common fish species found in local near coast, but this time it’s done smoke with drizzle of olive oil and a rouille dipping sauce on the side.

One couldn’t go wrong with the beef tartare served with the bright Japanese egg yolk, burrata cheese and hazelnuts on top. Perfect with the sourdough bread that was served. Tuna and tomatoes looked ordinary but it’s the excellent ingredients that did all the talking, with the Japanese fruit tomatoes got the perfect balance of sweetness and acidity, and the tuna slow-cooked with tender, fatty texture and rich flavor. Shirako is in season this time of the year, and it’s done Tuscan fritti style with potato salad underneath. I like the light batter finished with a sprinkle of paprika. The razor clams were another seafood dish we had – sauteed and served in a salsa verde – and the clams came in perfect size with the fresh umami taste and a bouncy bite.

Stars of the evening were the beef dish which was one of our main courses. The meat came from a local steer, roasted and served in thick slices, and on the side, roast bone marrow with caviar, double-roasted potatoes and lettuce. The beef go a rich meaty flavor – just a sprinkle of salt was all that was needed, and I love the potatoes, crunchy on the outside and creamy and soft inside. There’s a good reason why the chicken rice has been their signature dish since forever – the whole bird was baked in salt dome, carved and served with rice underneath and creamy morel mushroom sauce on top. The braised root vegetables was served as the side dish with a rich bouillon and shaved black truffles on top - love the subtle sweetness from the vegetables perfectly cooked and went well with the pleasant aroma from the winter black truffles. 

Then there were a few dishes that I thought was just average this time. The “buffalo wings” with roquefort sound like a cute idea when it’s first introduced at the restaurant some years ago, but the surprise factor has worn off and I personally prefer the wings be crispier, served immediately after time in oven or deep-fryer rather than the skin over smothered with the overpowering sauce and turned soft. We each had a small portion of garganelli before our main courses – the pasta was fine, but the ragu sauce was pretty ordinary, didn’t have much flavor to show forth and definitely not enough to go with the pasta. 

I knew a 9kg (or 15 catty using local weight scale, we were told) piece of wild threadfin fish is a rare find and we were lucky to have a piece of that as one of our three main courses and done in traditional bouillabaisse style, but after a few seafood dishes we already had, this one paled in comparison so no surprise it’s the only main course we left plenty on the table and had to pack home. I thought the French cooking method didn't do justice to the fish usually with perfect fatty texture and rich flavor and didn't need much intervention. 

Brought in our own wines this time, starting with a champer, three bottles of red (2 Pinot and a Bordeaux) and finished with a South African dessert wine. Just the right amount of bottles to go around. The 2003 Duhart Milon which we brought in hit the spot and matured nicely after 20 years - full bodied, nice black fruits and hint of wood and rounded tannins. Probably need a bigger, richer meat to go with but it was lovely on its own. And I love the desserts - both the cannoli with white chocolate and chestnut and the classic caneles were excellent. 

More photos here:

When? February 2 2023
Where? Neighborhood, G/F 61-63 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Roasted Local Steer Beef, Potatoes, Lettuce, Bone Marrow, Caviar
Champagne R. Faivre “Reflect Naturel” Blanc de Noirs Extra Brut NV
2016 The Hilt “Old Guard” Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County, California
2003 Chateau Duhart-Milon Pauillac
2014 Klein Constantia Vin de Constance, Constantia, South Africa
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