Restaurant: Bo Innovation
Cuisine: Modern Chinese/Chinese/Fusion
Last visited: September 13, 2013
Location: Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Address: Shop 13, 2/f ,J Residence, 60 Johnston Rd
Transit: EB 7 Av S@ Centre St LRT Station
Phone: +852 2850 8371
Price range: $50+ ($32-45 mains)
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: FMF Must Try!
- Chef/owner Alvin Leung
- 2 Michelin Star
- Fine dining/upscale dining
- Chef’s Tasting Menu available
- Seasonal menus
- Special occasions
- Reservations recommended
- Lunch (Mon-Fri): 12:00pm – 2:30pm
Dinner (Mon-Fri): 7:00pm – late
Saturday: 6:00pm – late
**Recommendations: Chef’s Table Menu is HK $2,380.00 per person (about $307USD) with wine pairing HK $800.00 per person (about $100USD) (plus 10 % service charge).
He is often referred to as the “Wylie Dufresne” of Hong Kong, but I’m not keen on comparing chefs on this level, although it would be an honour to be compared with chef Dufresne.
Defresne is the the chef and owner of wd~50 restaurant in Manhattan, New York. He is a leader in molecular gastronomy and highly regarded on an international level as one of the most progressive chefs in the “molecular category” of Modern American cuisine. I actually met him briefly outside his restaurant during Follow Me Foodie to New York… star struck.
Anyway this was Follow Me Foodie to Hong Kong and I was hosted at their “wd~50” equivalent, Bo Innovation, for dinner.
Chef and owner of 2 Michelin Star Bo Innovation, Alvin Leung, is known for his “x-treme Chinese cuisine” and molecular gastronomy. Born in London and raised in Toronto, Canada, he is also one of the three judges on MasterChef Canada.
That is not Chef Alvin Leung, but one of his chefs… who looked boss.
Unfortunately a chef of his status is in high demand so I didn’t get to meet him in person, although I spoke with him on the phone. It would have been nice to see him in action in his open kitchen, but I got a full view at the bar although seating there was tight. I was almost touching elbows with my neighbour and I felt like I was third-wheeling on their date, so while the bar is my favourite spot, I might reconsider here.
As for the food, it was on another level, both literally and figuratively. It is not for everyone, just like any molecular gastronomy. I don’t even like calling it “molecular gastronomy” because the word has such negative connotations these days because it has been so misused and abused, but it is what he does here. However he’s no amateur, and he’s not playing around in the kitchen.
You have to come here with the right mind-set. If you don’t like food messed with and you’re a traditionalist, then this is not for you. But if you can appreciate it for the technique, art, and science then you will likely be infatuated. The food is interesting and creative, and it tastes good, but it is not the same type of “good” as mom’s home cooking. It is not even apples and oranges, it is meat and vegetables.
I had Bo Innovation on my Hong Kong “bucket list” for a couple years, so I knew what to expect. I was prepared for my food to be manipulated and I was there to see his show. I was there to enter his world.
Given that Chef Leung is a trained engineer, he uses science to lead his cooking. While his food can come across as “scientific experiments” or “gimmicky”, they are well rehearsed with proper technique and intent. The food was based on traditional Chinese dishes and flavours, but the execution was unfamiliar and foreign. Molecular cooking tends to be like this and that’s the whole point. It’s to surprise you, and I was surprised.
Some dishes I found smart and exceptional, while others lost in translation. I wish there was more of a balance between dishes because I found most of them quite heavy, but there is no shortage of courses or portions and I was beyond stuffed (and I’m a big eater).
If I compare it to something I’ve been to before, it was a bit like benu, in the sense that it was a Chinese driven menu, but with the playfulness of Alinea. It’s not like either of the two, but it gives an idea.
I’ve never seen Chinese food transformed to something so different on this level, so it was successful in its “x-treme Chinese cuisine”. The taste and presentation is more subjective than most meals even at this caliber, but it is exciting and almost quirky.
I would recommend Bo Innovation for an out of the ordinary experience and he is pushing boundaries in Hong Kong.
As a modernist chef or modernist cuisine enthusiast, the menu would be inspiring, but otherwise it might leave you lost. I love modern cooking when it is in the right hands, and it’s in the right hands at Bo Innovation, but truly on the “x-treme” side.
I did not understand all the dishes, but that was a bit of the fun. They were wild. The plating and custom designed dinnerware added to the whole interactive experience, and it was a once in a lifetime meal. It’s a destination restaurant, and an unforgettable one regardless of one’s liking for it; and even if it is “not your thing” you have to admire the thought process and unique personality of his dishes.
On the table:
**Please click the link below each image for audio!**
Chef’s Table Menu
CAVIAR – smoked quail egg, crispy taro
BLUE SHRIMP – “har mi”, ginger, green onion and avocado
DAN DAN NOODLES – chili pepper, pine nut, crispy egg noodles, preserved chinese mustard, iberico ham 36, ikura, green apple
SCALLOP – shanghainese “jolo” sauce, crispy woba, sugar snap peas
ABALONE ( Sorry, I called it “abalone” even though I know it’s pronounced “abalon-E”)
MOLECULAR “xiao long bao”, aged chinkiang vinegar
“pat chun” chinese vinegar, fermented chinese olives “lam kok”, marshmallow with green onion oil
WHITE TRUFFLE – duck egg yolk, “cheung fun”, yak milk cheese
AUSTRALIAN ROCK LOBSTER – sichuan hollandaise, chili, chinese leek dumpling, charred corn
SWEETBREAD – oyster sauce, artichoke, pickled pearl onion, spring onion
SAGA-GYU BEEF – truffled tendon, chinese chive, daikon, aromatic bouillon
ALMOND – genmai, okinawa black sugar, cinnamon
Is there no more written analysis of each dish in your posts to come? Definitely still appreciate the detailed analysis that you’re doing with the videos but there is an extra sense of elegance and beauty that comes with seeing it written out, especially the mega essay posts!
Another thing I noticed after listening to all the clips is that for dishes that you didn’t enjoy so much there used to be more perspective from you as a home cook (i.e. what you would do to change/elevate the dish). Just something to think about for future videos! 🙂
@Roger – lol, aw thanks Roger!!! I’m trying to do a bit of both. Definitely NOT abandoning the writing because I agree with you, but I know some people prefer audio. The tone of voice also helps get my message across and read correctly…. so I’m hoping it avoids miscommunication. I’ll be switching it up! Those lengthy essays take about 30 hours to write one.
@Roger – Great suggestion!! Just saw comment 2 show up. I will definitely add recommendations or how I would change it. I did that when I was writing, so I’ll do it in the audio 🙂 Thank you.
We went here last year, and I loved the MOLECULAR “xiao long bao.” It is nice to see that none of the other dishes match except the “bread” and the PETIT FOURS
I also enjoyed the huge (and decidedly ESL) effort put into explaining dishes and ingredients.
@Jonathan – Oh really!?! My servers spoke near perfect English! I’m really impressed that we didn’t have the exact same menu! Refreshing! So many restaurants of this level only change a few items a year!