When it comes to holiday indulgences, sweet treats rank high on our must-have list. Named Asia’s Best Pastry Chef of 2013 and 2014, Janice Wong knows a thing or two about desserts. The young chef made headlines with her innovative creations at the acclaimed 2am:dessertbar in Singapore and expanded to Hong Kong with Cobo House earlier this year.
For the holiday season, Chef Wong has put together a six-course festive dinner menu full of gastronomic surprises. We sampled a few of the highlights, starting off with a trio of amuse-bouche ranging from a crispy apple ‘ravioli’ made with olive potato purée, to a foie gras ball covered in roasted cherries on top of potato strings, to a crunchy rice wafer topped with lobster and balsamic vinegar pearls. The flavour pairings were interesting without pushing the envelope too far.
The main was a delicious pan-seared slab of halibut covered in sweet crabmeat, marinated in kaffir lime dressing. The seafood flavours were further accentuated by fried dill and a sour, salty and sweet whey sauce.
The mushroom forest was a contrast between savoury and sweet notes, with the pairing of a rich mushroom flan and a salted caramel cookie amidst a scattering of nitrogen-frozen coffee ice cream crumbs and crispy lotus root chips. The flan reminded us of salted caramel but was exceedingly rich, making it a challenge to finish despite our greedy appetites. The lotus root and pea shoots made the dish look pretty, but we prefer not having vegetables with our dessert.
Another festive menu dessert is the purple chestnut, made with cassis chestnut purée, lavender marshmallow and cassis meringue alongside red pepper gel. We loved the vibrant colours of the dessert but thought that the cassis overwhelmed the sweet subtlety of the chestnut. The red pepper gel was also a surprise that we weren’t quite sure was a good one.
We couldn’t resist dipping into some of Cobo House’s renowned signature desserts, so we sampled a few of the highlights. Shades of Green, featuring pandan ice cream and coconut cream, was by far our favourite thanks to its classic, time-tested flavours. We couldn’t say the same about the miso caramel, which sounded better on paper than it tasted on the palate. The mixture of salty miso with sharp mustard meringue was a bit too over the top for the senses. We’ve had miso ice cream on several occasions at other restaurants and have always been pleasantly surprised by the salted caramel resemblance of its flavour, but alas, this was not the case at Cobo House. We did enjoy the whimsical take on the traditional Hong Kong egg waffle (gai dan zai), which came amidst a flurry of chocolate and pop rocks.
The six-course dinner is priced at $880 per person and runs from 24–27 December, with an extension offered on New Year’s Eve.
Verdict: We felt that the menu was fun in the sense of its experimental spirit but faltered in taste with mind-boggling flavour combinations that didn’t quite, well, cut the cake.
8 South Lane, Shek Tong Tsui, 2656 3088