Address: Shop 13, 2/F, J Residence, 60 Johnston Road, Wan Chai 灣仔莊士敦道60號嘉薈軒2樓13號舖
Telephone: 2850 8371
Bo Innovation is a world-renowned three Michelin starred establishment operated by “demon chef” Alvin Leung, a legendary chef who is one of the only two self-taught chefs ever to get Michelin star honours (the other one being Heston Blumenthal of The Fat Duck). Instead of “molecular gastronomy”, Chef Alvin prefers to call his creation “X-treme Chinese” cuisine, and in recent years he has opened up a range of culinary ventures, including modern comfort food eatery MIC Kitchen, healthy fast food franchise Beautifood and one Michelin-starred restaurant, Bo London in London.
I have dined at Bo Innovation before (see my review here), but this is the first time I visit the restaurant after it has attained its three Michelin star status. The Chef’s Table Menu costs $2,380 per head, which is not excessive given the amount of food served and the restaurant’s world class status, and the service is polished and polite.
Instead of serving guests a bread basket, Bo Innovation is famous for serving eggettes, a traditional Hong Kong street snack. These crispy eggettes are always good to munch on, but we refrain from eating oo much as a huge feast is awaiting us!
(1) The first course is “Caviar“, which puts a spin on a traditional fried taro dim sum by adding caviar and smoked quail egg to it. The taste of this definitely lives up to its beautiful presentation, and is completely delicate and tasty.
(2) The second course is a Korean-inspired “Mulhoe“, which comprises a range of enticing ingredients including foie gras, gochujang, pear, sea urchin, jellyfish, seaweed, halibut and beetroot kimchi. These flavours form a delightful symphony in the mouth, with the sea urchin, halibut and seaweed being the most detectable ingredients for me.
(3) “Lap Mei Fan” completely blows us away. It is essentially a baked Alaska infused with flavours of “lap mei fan”, a Chinese dish of rice cooked with preserved meats. At the bottom is some “woba”, i.e. crispy rice. The savoury-sweet flavour is absolutely indulgent, and the contrast between the soft and the crisp textures is enlightening.
(4) “Umami” is a relatively simple dish of black truffle, toro, har mi oil, vermicelli and rice noodle. For those of you who don’t know, umami is a type of taste (just like sweetness, sourness and bitterness) which tastes like meat/ protein. This dish is certainly umami-rich and even though it seems like a lot is going on, the flavours work wonderfully together.
(5) This “Molecular” xiao long bao is one of the most famous dishes at Bo Innovation, but admittedly not my favourite. Its membrane-like texture is certainly interesting, but the flavour doesn’t bear enough resemblance to Shanghainese pork dumplings.
(6) “Tomato” is a dish with a Chinese vinegar theme. The interaction between tomato, which is naturally sour, and “pat chun” (a famous brand of Chinese vinegar), is inspiring, and the marshmallow with green onion oil on the left is also very creative, but this is overall not the tastiest dish of the meal.
(7) “Baby Food” is like a deconstruction of the Hong Kong comfort food, “chian dan chee” i.e. spam and egg sandwich. Inside this glass jar is a spam-tasting foam with small crunchy bits of toast and mouthwatering egg yolk – the flavours are rich and oh-so-addictive!
(8) “Red Fish” is fish accompanied by yunnan ham, dry mandarin peel, wild mushroom, jerusalem artichoke and pickled pearl onion. The fish is of pristine quality and the dry mandarin peel gives off an elegant fragrance, but personally I find there are too many ingredients in this dish.
(9) The “Blue Lobster” follows. The lobster tastes exquisite, and is cooked in a soothing chilli shaohsing broth. The charred corn also tastes gorgeous!
(10) “Mao Tai“, a cold consommé of hawthorn, lemongrass and passion fruit, serves as a wonderful palate-cleanser between the meaty dishes. It is light and easy to drink, and the taste of passion fruit is invigorating.
(11) “Sweetbread” is an oyster dish which is served with kale and a piece of oyster leaf. Oyster leaf is a type of leaf that has an oyster-like, briny taste to it. Not bad at all, despite how full I am!
(12) The last course before desserts is “Saga-gyu beef“, and it completely steals my heart. In Hong Kong, “cheung fun” (steamed rice rolls) are eaten as dim sums in restaurants or as street snacks. Here at Bo Innovation, they are unconventionally served with extravagant ingredients – thin slices of wagyu beef and black truffle shaving. The fattiness of the beef is a wonderful complement for the soft, smooth rice rolls, and the black truffle adds a strong fragrance without being distracting.
(13) There are three desserts and the first one is “Almond“, a smooth, almond-tasting ball in a sweet soup made from genmai (Japanese toasted rice), okinawa black sugar and cinnamon. I am not that crazy about the almond ball, but I do enjoy the sweet soup, which is mellow and satisfying.
(14) I am guessing that “Coconut” is a Singaporean-inspired dessert. The pandan-flavoured cream is tasty, and I also love the white powder made from coconut water.
(15) A lot of thought has gone into this dessert, “Eight Treasures“. We are given a sweet tea made from 8 ingredients that are supposedly good for your health – dragon eye, osmanthus, rose, walnut, dried mandarin peel, Chinese red date, wolf berry and chrysanthemum. Accompanying the tea are 8 small desserts each made from one of these ingredients. The rose beetroot meringue and the osmanthus steamed sponge cake are my favourite.
(16) After our gigantic meal, we surely have completely run out of stomach space and each of us is given a small brown paper bag to take some candies home. This is a mixed bag of old-school candies that have been sold in Hong Kong for decades, and will surely help educate overseas customers about Hong Kong food culture!
The cuisine at Bo Innovation has improved a lot since my previous visit and it is great to see how Chef Alvin is presenting Asian cuisine in a totally new light to the world. A few of the dishes, such as “Mulhoe”, “Lap Mei Fan”, “Baby Food” and “Saga-gyu Beef” are certainly of world-class standard, in terms of presentation, innovation and taste. I find the portion of the tasting menu too big (bearing in mind that trying tasting menus is a regular activity of mine as a food blogger/ writer), and it is my humble opinion that some of the dishes can be taken out from the menu so that only the best of the best is served to customers. I hope Chef Alvin can keep up with his relentless creativity and continue to surprise diners with his culinary inventions!