Thursday, August 18, 2011

Glamourously extraordinary - Gastronomy Extra|ordinaire

I usually write my restaurant reviews in chronological orders but in some special occasions. The dinner at Gastronomy Extra|ordinaire(g.e) was SO GOOD that i HAVE to write it up as soon as i can! 

Much thanks to Jodie, Angie, James and ah Saii for the kind invitation to dinner, it was so much fun with all the chats, laughters and of course, the FOOD. OMG, everything was so surprising, so beautifully crafted, and most importantly, sooooo DELICIOUS! 

One misunderstanding about molecular gastronomy (or progressive dining) is that the dishes are only beautiful in appearance but sh*t in taste. I aint sure about other places in Hong Kong but at g.e., it was surely not the thing. The dishes are all soo beautifully crafted, so delicate that you couldnt bear putting them into your mouth, but they were equally delicious. 'Wow' and 'hmmmm' were the only noise i could make when we were introduced to a new dish. 

So - where should i start? g.e. is on the 2nd floor on The Luxe Manor Hotel, Tsim Sha Tsui. Step into the hotel with the door closing behind you, and you are in a new world. The hotel is no place like another, absolutely not something the noisy shopaholic mainland tourists would appreciate. The place was simply hip. I took the stairs and walked up to the 2nd floor for g.e., passing dada bar and FINDS on my way. 

I would LOVE to return for lunch at FINDS someday, FYI.
After greeting Angie, James and Jodie at the bar, we had a quick tour around the different dining rooms at g.e. There were a total of 4 , each very uniquely decored. 

First there was the black room where they used to call 'hell'...and it literally is, with the flowing 'blood' on the floors, the lit candles and stuff...bloody glamorous.

Then there was 'heaven', a starking whitish room with light waves at the ceiling - overwhelmingly tranquil and peaceful. 

Then there was the main dining room with the big swirling clock on the wall...i was instantly brought back to my literature class where we discussed the passage of time. So good where the innocent old days hun...and how i wish time could go backward like how the big swirling clock on the wall does. 

The last floral room was 'Eden', and we didnt enter as it was occupied.

So back we were at the dark room for dinner - hell yeah! Despite its spooky setting (and perhaps a little freezing aircon, poor James had been shivering all night), the room was actually very, very comfortable for private dining. 
Hospitality had not been compromised as the team at g.e. had been extremely hospitable with their service, and they were always there, kind and approachable, ready for whatever requests and questions you have.


For a start we had the 'The Luxe Manor' la peche champagne, exclusively available at the hotel. A sip of the bubbly sweet drink was heavenly - i LOVE peachy liquor drinks like Bellini and stuff like that, and la peche was way better than what i had had before. 

And finally its dinner time! We were supposed to be having a 6-course meal but what we actually had was way more than 6, and i gave up counting which course we were up to halfway through.  

Amuse bouche - a delicate beetroot sponge rested on a bright red rose. The rose was REAL(i think), and the beetroot sponge had such an intense flavour and sweetness of the plant! The spongy texture of the snack was very meaty as well. OMG! 

The small glass of refreshing snack was lemon and passion-fruit flavoured foam and sorbet (i guess), and we were suggested to dig DOWN with our spoon to savour the two textures in the small glass. The base was more icy while the top was foamed lemon juice. Very cool and refreshing indeed!

Finger snack - a mysterious paper box landed and there we found some extraordinarily thin and crispy taro chips. I wondered why they were in a BOX but not on a plate or a basket....but omg the crisps were so taro-ish, and they did not leave annoying greases on your fingertips. Angie said she could munch on that all day long - so can i!  

Salad - burrata, tomato, pesto salad. Sounds simple eh? It amazed me how the chef went beyond the boundaries and made a twist on the traditional Italian entree, visible in almost every Italian restaurant in town the tricolor national flag of Italy inspired him of the garnishing and arrangements of the salad...and omgosh it was certainly one of the freshest salad I have ever tried. 

White: the buratta cheese was processed to achieve a snow-like flaky texture on the top, yet the original chewy texture was well-preserved in the bottom...its flavour burst out as the snowy cheese melted in your mouth. It was - extraordinarily delicious. 

Red: the tomatoes had been treated in three ways - chopped into cubes, sundried, reduced, and - sorbet-ized. The red ball was a TOMATO SORBET(i guess) and was really refreshing. 

Green: rocket leaves and a hint of pesto completed the salad. together with the yellow crisps, the salad was doubtlessly one of the most adventurous and yet delicious i have ever had. 

Soup - at least we all thought it was when the waitress poured hot liquid into the ceramic containers. Then she just left them there. We asked if we could just get our serve. They said no and we had to wait for the other half to be ready - what? 

And there they came in similar ceramic containers which fit perfectly on the bowls with the soup, and i thought it was a fondue - NOT!

  It wasnt even soup but coagulated tofu, and it resembled Japanese steamed eggs (Chawan-mushi).

 Beneath the silky smooth were salmon roes and salmon flakes, and they further enhanced the sweetness of the tofu.

Kenny told us to eat the fresh clams, coconut milk and tofu all in one bite, and the seemingly incompatible combination went very well together, and they tasted very 'thai' - was it because of the coconut milk? Anyway, and the two bits of royal blue thing were tapioca crisps tainted with food colorings. Blue is an unusual color on the dining table and it was very catchy indeed, especially when put beside the milky white coconut and clams. 

  Bread and butter - yes they do have bread and butter at g.e, but with a twist. The butter came in a misty glass container and the 'bread' was an extremely thin sesame crisp.

Kenny waited till we had our cameras ready and lifted the glass cover and whoa! - the smell of incense filled the room as the smoke was unlocked....jokingly i said i felt like i had entered a Chinese temple *laugh* but no, the smell was much more pleasant as it was apple wood, and that was how they smoke the butter to inject more flavour - wickedly clever. 

The butter was much softer than what we usually have and had a creamy texture, and oh it was soooo sweet and rich! 

  You would be amazed by how wheaty the thin sesame crisp actually was - it was like putting a whole loaf of french baguette into your mouth, but at one bite the thin crisp melted away and you couldnt help helping yourself to a bigger piece off the bread puzzle. It was - amazing.

Parma ham, polenta cake, black truffle - the unique aroma of black truffle was overwhelming and you couldnt help but 'wow' at the beautiful presentation of the dish. Tricoloured it was - brown, yellow and white, resembling earth and nature maybe? The white foam and meringue were processed milk, and the yellowish part were polenta cake processed in different ways. It was so complex and interesting - digging in was like adventuring down a dark alley, you simply dont know what to expect and what's ahead, but whatever you come by, they are AMAZING. Beneath the thinly sliced black truffle were parma ham, red cabbage and a mushy cake of - polenta, was it? I disremembered - all i know was that it was DELICIOUS, whatever it was made of. 

  So far our food came in relatively 'conventional' containers until these. I decided to call these the 'Seafood Trio' as they were all seafood, scallop and squid to be more precise.  

  First there was a silver spoon with scallop tartare, seasoned with chilli, and a letter 'c' made of - compressed broccoli? Damnit, it was SO refreshing. The letter C was extraordinary as you would have thought you were eating a stalk of broccoli, only that it had adapted a new rubbery texture. 

  Next was the scallop tempura served on a light metal container which looked like a bloom's end to me. The coating was thin and the warm scallop was smooth and fresh, while the green bit on top was relatively cold, but the contrast in temperature further enhanced the complexity of the tempura that no sauce nor dippings were necessary anymore - thoughtful.

  Last was the squid ink risotto - at least that's what we were told it was. And it looked like it was with the grains of rice in it, and it was not until we all took a bite that Kenny told us it was all squid and no rice. Yes, they chopped the squid so finely until they resembled rice grains and cooked them in squid ink and lily bloom. I am not a big fan of lily bloom but together with the squid ink it tasted better than what I had thought it would be.  

Intermezzo - for refreshing our taste buds we were given avocado with caviar, poked on a transparent red plastic stick. The avocado was creamy and the unique freshness of caviar rushed out as the coating burst in your mouth - whoa. Stunning.

Fish - we had steamed sole with crab bisque sauce, flowers, curry-flavoured pasta, and more flowers. Omgosh, the dish looked so floral and gardenly to me! What surprised me most as there was steamed white fungus in it and it was a very 'Chinese' ingredient - that's what 'globalization' means, i guess.

The fungus was soft, and despite its pale colour it had picked up so much flavour from the broth and fish. The veggies and flowers were refreshing, and the steamed sole was light and soft. What surprised me the most was the brown jelly of crab bisque. Burst it with a fork, and the rich seafood flavor came rushing out. If only i had a spongy bread to soak up the bisque!

Roast - lamb belly with mustard, ricotta cheese and etc. The three pieces of lamb looked dry and tough on appearance but they turned out to be almost the BEST lamb I have ever had.

The meat was soft and tender, nicely roasted,having just the right amount of fat, and the unique taste of lamb was pleasantly intense - lamb lovers(like me!) would fall for this for sure! 
While the mustard sauce was light and succeeded in balancing the grease of the meat, the cubes of deep fried ricotta cheese was absolutely glamourous.

The outer crust was of the perfect golden brown color and the interior was runny yet cheesy, and it was a funny contrast to the (unprocessed?) lump of whitish ricotta cheese by its side. The thin sweet potato crisp and the thick cut of steamed sweet potato were equally delicious. 
All in all - delicious and it is indeed something i'd crave for more!

Refreshment before dessert - yogurt with raspberry compote to calm the palate and refresh the taste buds, also to prepare us for the upcoming desserts, something we had all been so looking forward to. We were asked to dig deep into the bottom of the cup so as to savour the different ingredients and flavours. And there it was - raspberry compote, perfect to eat with the tarty and light yogurt - was it greek yogurt? Anyway - I was completely refreshed and ready for whatever sweet that's coming up next, and hell yea i LOVE that cute little wooden spoon!

Dessert - ah, so there we were at last! Chocolate, marshmallow, preserved cherry, crushed biscuit and etc. were what we had. The taste of it largely resembled the classic Black Forest but the texture was much, much more complex and interesting - first there was the creamy and rich scoop of chocolate ice cream sat on thin cocoa wafers, and beneath the crisps were nicely roasted mashmallows. 
You could never go wrong with chocolate and roasted mashmallows - remember the comforting smores we had whenever we go BBQ? now THIS tasted so much like the delicious snack beside the flames.

The long dark brown string was a crispy 'chocolate speghetti', and the green thing was - guess what? - CELERY. OMGOSH! The pickled cherries had a subtle hint of liquor and was slightly bitter on the preserved skin, and the jelly (which looked like black pudding to me) where everything were sat on was unexpectedly smooth in texture and yet intensely COCOA-ish. And i love the yellowish sand-like biscuit crumbs - not very buttery and greasy but SO aromatic. oh my god.

The Petit fours came on a heavy metal flat pan.

At one corner there were thin light blue slices that looked more like glass than something edible. With several sprays of edible perfume they were magically transformed into - candies. YES, candies that melts on your tongue...wicked.

The letters were milk chocolates while the coins were dark chocolate with runny caramel(?) fillings.

The yellow citrus candies in edible transparent wraps was slightly chewy but oh-so-summerish and refreshing!

What surprised me were the small cubes of green apple candies poked at the tip of the fine metal antenna. I would have considered it a decoration rather than something edible on the metal pan!

And - guess what? The feast hadnt come to an end yet. We were brought a delicate jewel box and in there rested 6 pearls.

We were asked not to bite nor chew but to let it melt on our tongue. 3 seconds  and the crust burst open, and came rushing out was fresh and sweet mango juice. I went like 0,0 as i was completely SURPRISED. who'd expect to find mango sauce in a pearl?

 Finally - we were served little ceramic pots with small white 'coins' in it.

I thought it was mint refreshers until the servers poured mint water into the pot and - WHOA! - the coin literally SPROUTED and shot upward.

I was like, WTF was that, an instant 3-second souffle?! And we were told it wasnt anything edible but a piece of WET TOWEL to wipe our hands with.

OMFG. What an anticlimax to wrap up the night, and something id hardly forget.

Phew - what a FEAST! We certainly had way more than 6 courses, each having a strong and unique character on their own, and all soooo thoughtfully cooked and beautifully arranged. It was fun guessing what was in the dish, so adventurous and stimulating, yet the flavour had not been compromised - tomatoes tasted like tomatoes, fish tasted like fish and lamb tasted like lamb. The only thing that had been played with were the textures and temperatures of the ingredients, and it could only be done and mastered if only you have complete knowledge of their chemical properties. 

My highest respect to Chef Bonelli - the alchemist, the magician, the mastermind behind the pleasant surprises and adventures I experienced throughout the night. You ROCK!

Much thanks again to Jodie, Angie and James for the kind invitation, it was nice meeting and chatting you all, and oh my gosh i am already missing all the laughters we had yesternight; thanks to ahh Saii for bringing me to Jodie; and thanks to Evelyn and Johannes, it was nice having dinner with you, and OH-MY-GOD i am such a BIG FAN of you two - seriously, i was too shy to admit that last night, but i do read your write-ups regularly on openrice, your blogs, and HK magazine!! *blush*

Glamorously extraordinary the night at g.e had been - it was one that i would never, ever forget.

gastronomy extra| ordinaire
2/F, The Luxe Manor, 39 Kimberley Road,
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong


  1. w0w..jealous! the hotel looks really nice,and the food looks so delicious..


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