I can’t help but feel that we’re missing out in Honkers…
One of the biggest food revolutions in recent memory just seems to be passing us by!
Of course, I’m referring to the Nordic food phenomenon that’s taken most of the world by storm and made especially famous by René Redzepi of NOMA. Oh sure, we’ve had some near misses; NUR being the most tragic of the lot…. First gaining, then losing it’s Michelin Star.
Where NUR finished, Frantzén’s Kitchen took over, but just like it’s now forgotten Nordic style predecessor, Frantzén’s Kitchen has failed to secure the love from the HK Michelin Guide.
While a little further to the north and right smack bang in the middle of the Nordic region, Frantzén’s Kitchen’s older brother (or sister) has just picked up 3 Michelin Stars; the first Swedish restaurant to claim that mantle. Frantzén is considered one of the shining lights of the culinary world, and justifiably so.
But back to Hong Kong.
I had a night free recently and decided to head back to Frantzén’s Kitchen with a buddy (let’s call him Stephen) for a boys night of culinary delights. It was a night that almost didn’t happen though…
Funny story – the long and the short of it was that 1730 is definitely not 730pm and I’m eternally grateful to the restaurant for calling me to ask where the heck I was…
Anyway, a mad rush to the restaurant got us across town and sitting at the small and intimate dining room in Sheung Wan!
Now, if you’re not familiar with Nordic cuisine, you’re missing out! We’re talking incredibly fresh produce, normally sourced locally and amazingly rich and fatty and full in flavour, without overworking or relying on rich sauces.
One of the brilliant elements of Frantzén’s Kitchen is the manner in which the menu is used. Firstly, your placemat is your menu, but where it differs from other restaurants is the drawings and descriptions of the creative process to bring each dish together are displayed. Giving you an insight into the creative process and a little bit of an insight of what you can expect to see on the plate!
There are only about sixteen options on the menu, called snacks, to begin, continued and the finish; signifying the journey that executive chef Jim Löfdahl take each diner on during the meal. Each round of food ever increasing in size.
Stephen and I had both been to Frantzén’s before, so knew the deal. So, in a bout of complete optimism, we ordered just about every item on the menu…
Here’s what happened 🙂
We each started with the Apple & Londonberry Macaron with foie gras parfait; the perfectly formed macarons dusted with beetroot powder to add a splash of colour to the plate. The smallest and lightest of bites was incredible, the creamy foie gras impossibly light and delicious, setting my palate alight!
“Swedish Sushi” quickly followed, the fatty dish comprising of crispy white moss, roe deer, cep mayonnaise and shaved frozen bird’s liver. Another single bite, the ‘sushi’ disappeared just as quickly, this time a much earthier hit to the palate, yet no less delicious. I loved the sweetness from the bird’s liver, which contrasted nicely against the heavier roe deer but bringing perfect balance and harmony.
Many consider the French Toast the restaurant’s signature dish, with good reason! Aged cheese spread over thick toast and covered with shaved truffle then flavoured with aged balsamic vinegar dotted on the unique dish; delightful and just a little bit bigger and a little more difficult to fit in your mouth in one bite! Another earthy dish balanced with the richness of the cheese and balsamic…
It was as our snacks were ending that we were brought the Frantzén’s version of bread and butter; crispy compressed ‘bread’ along with lashings of brown butter nice and gooey at room temperature. Yummy and lovely to just snack on between courses..
Our next dish moved us on from snacks, so was a little more substantial; this time, we’d begun sharing the dishes so we could get through all of the food that we’d ordered! Organic and earthy looking in its brown ceramic bowl, Seven Gardens was a hodgepodge of locally sourced vegetables carefully placed and accompanied by puffed buckwheat and crispy fish scales, and a decent pour of melted Sancho butter. The amalgamation of flavours and textures was almost overwhelming, but that lovely Sancho butter helped bring connection to the disparate ingredients.
I absolutely adored our next dish and was (not so) secretly disappointed that we’d decided to share the dish! A gigantic Pan-Seared Scallop from the sea of Japan dominated the plate, but the chicken mousseline with sabayon & ‘Nordic’ dashi helped make the dish. So big was the scallop that it was sliced into multiple pieces, and each of us felt that we’d had our fair share, but we both thought seriously about ordering another! The sweetness of the scallop danced delicately on the palate with the slight bite of the dashi providing balance.
I love how Frantzéns uses the term Swedish dairy cow but loved how it was used even more! The deceptively opaque Toast “Pelle Janzon” combined diced beef cubes with a deep fried quails egg, a thin layer of tender beef carpaccio and vendance roe. It was meaty, earthy and complex, the layers of the dish speaking to us in a primal way, but still appealing to the visual foodies that we were.
Without a doubt, the richest and most delicious dish of the night was the Velouté; again shared but this time justifiably. Man, the dish was so rich and full-bodied, that it would have been too much for the palate if we’d consumed a whole portion each! Not the thickest volouté imaginable, it was deceptively dense; the white onion puree combining with almond milk and liquorice cream to be sweet and savoury at the same time.
Yeah, I could eat the dish all day (mmm, maybe I should have had a whole portion to myself!)
Our dishes were getting progressively heavier and larger, and by this time we were questioning the wisdom of ordering so much (even to share)! The fish courses were next and there was one winner and one dish that fell just a little short (in my opinion).
The North Atlantic Cod was incredible, the butter sauce with juniper and pears infused in orange vinegar was simply spectacular. The cod was perfectly cooked, the textures and flavours of the dish belying the rustic presentation. My taste buds were dancing to the beat of this drum and they didn’t want the party to end!
Although end it did when the relatively benign Steamed Turbot was consumed. Perhaps it was a case of eating in the wrong order, or the fact that my old nemesis ‘Turbot’ was involved (I do find the fish bland!), but it just lacked the power and flavour of the preceding dishes. Even fresh mint and peas couldn’t bring the dish to life for me, and I happily let Stephen take the largest portion to share.
It definitely seemed like a good idea to order all of the ‘main’ dishes on the menu, but by the time the Roasted Pork Belly was presented, I was just about done! I loved the combination of black garlic and fermented carrot ‘hot sauce’ paired with the pork belly but didn’t love the addition of the pumpkin puree. The pork was tender with a lovely crunch from the ‘crackling’, but it was super heavy and tough going to finish!
But alas, we weren’t done!
Thankfully, the “Hot-Pot” was so delicious that it managed to cut through the fact that I was bursting at the seams! A beautiful ring of green from cabbage and lettuce (and kale?), with a splash of orange from thinly sliced carrot (and hidden bits of truffle and pink wagyu), and a pour of truffled bouillon sauce. Instructions to mix the whole lot together led to a blending of textures and flavours that were sensational!
We were done! And I mean DONE.
Or so I thought. As we asked for our bill to leave, our waiter talked us into one last dish from the dessert menu. I’m not sure what we were thinking, but we went ahead and ordered the Smoked Ice Cream; a dish that saw a warm fudge poured over a dome of chocolate, which slowly melted to reveal a scoop of tar syrup and salted fudge ice-cream. It was no doubt a spectacle to behold, and we a simply joy to eat, but I did feel like I’d overindulged in the meal and had a little ‘buyer’s remorse’!
But nothing a few days in the gym wouldn’t solve!
With a plethora of dishes that had been hugely successful and one dish that (personally) fell a little short; we’d hugely enjoyed our meal at Frantzén’s Kitchen. Given that we’d arrived over an hour late for our reservation (thanks again for holding), then running well over our allotted dining time (again, thanks), we couldn’t fault the service on the night.
We definitely didn’t have the prime seating in the restaurant though; if you get along to Frantzén’s (and you should), then try to score a seat at the bar, where you can get up front and personal with the team of chefs, led by Jim, for that personal and intimate experience.
Amazingly, as good as the food is, as on point as it is gastronomically globally, it’s a complete surprise to me that Frantzén’s Kitchen has not secured a Michelin Star (or two), which is a huge shame. The food is amazing and the ambience spot on.
There is always next year?!