Lunch at Bo London:
There are certain invitations that it would be more than churlish to turn down. And, a visit to Bo London, courtesy of the Hong Kong Tourist Board, for me fits right in that category. Why? Well not content with a two star Michelin restaurant in Hong Kong, Alvin Leung, the maverick Chef Patron opened Bo London on 6th December 2012, with a promise to introduce us all to his unique style of cooking ‘X-treme Chinese’. And since the Hong Kong Tourism Board has just launched their Wine and Dine Festival in London, what could be more fitting?
We arrived to find Alvin behind the bar mixing cocktails! Not just any cocktail, these were based on what Alvin described as a kind of Chinese Whisky, over 50% abv.Mixed with lime, sugar syrup, water and egg white, over ice, this made a fabulous ‘whisky sour’ with a twist.
The chef’s lunch menu was 9 and a half courses, as we were given an extra dish of sweetbread halfway through the meal. Whether Alvin was aware that slipping in an extra course would set the menu up with a name almost as controversial as his infamous ‘sex on the beach’ I doubt. But it seems entirely appropriate to me to mention it.
Winter garden to start was an entirely edible, oriental style garden. That particular concept isn’t new, but this version was exquisitely delicate, something I could have taken home and put on my mantelpiece, though my photo really doesn’t do justice to the food.
Cloud – a small, threatening black mouthful of cloud – citrusy and palate cleansing was followed by a trio of tomato dishes, each immaculate in their own right but together creating a tasting plate of flavours to be eaten in a particular order to maximise the impact.
I’ve tried my own version of lettuce wraps. Of course, not with Foie Gras…nor with ‘Abby’s sauce. Somehow I don’t think I’ve ever be close to this particular mouthful of heaven.
Lobster came with a fiery chilli crisp fin, which we were instructed to eat first. If you’ve never tried Sichuan food, the intensity of heat might take you by surprise and for me, I am not convinced the immaculately cooked lobster needed that level of treatment. But, as with many dishes, once you reach the point where the food is perfectly executed, you are left with personal taste.
I loved the Salmon which arrived in a cloud of aromatic sandalwood on black vermicelli. Very delicately smoked, moist and flakey. I’m not sure whether you describe this as ‘cooked’ or hot smoked.
We then had two meat dishes in quick succession, Pigeon with aromatic bouillon, potato and chive jiaozi and an extra dish of sweetbreads
Two desserts, the Bai Jiu ice parfait was delicate and light and to my mind a more remarkable dish than the coconut crème brulee, perfect in its own right but a quiet end to a spectacular lunch.
What did I like best about the event? The effervescent Alvin, rightly proud of his restaurants and food. The show of the dishes arriving under porcelain or metal lids, opened in front of us to maximise the aroma. And the delicate flavour combinations.
I enjoyed the slightly utilitarian style of the restaurant too. But, I can sympathise with those who think this type of food might be better served in a more opulent environment. The counter to that of course is that your attention is focussed entirely on what you are eating.
Would I pay? If money was no object of course I would, for the experience, the theatre and the excellent food. But I might question visiting for a special celebration unless I knew the occasion was for someone whose main interest was indeed the food. Perhaps perversely I’d like to find that occasion soon.
4 Mill Street, London, W1S 2AX