This article originally appeared in the latest September issue of Foodie: Cooking with Jamie Oliver. Read it here!
Classified information: True to its name, The Hidden Table is a mission to locate. Tucked away in an industrial building in Ap Lei Chau, it took us a while to find the worn iron sliding door down a somewhat spooky deserted hallway that could have moonlighted as a film set for a Chinese ghost movie. But slide open the door, and you step into a modernist space with a fantastic view of lush green mountains and an open kitchen bubbling with delicious aromas.
We recently hosted a double birthday dinner party here, and the owner and chef, Nelson Chung, graciously took time to suggest a customised menu to celebrate the occasion. Nelson operates this very private kitchen with his wife, and pursued his passion for the culinary arts at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. After several years living the Parisian life, he relocated back to Hong Kong to start The Hidden Table.
Casual elegance: After decanting several bottles of wine in anticipation for our feast, we sat down to the first course of refreshing crab meat and French melon vichyssoise. The crab meat was incredibly sweet, while the fragrance of the sweet delicate melon perfumed the silky vichyssoise, making the dish a perfect summer cooldown. Next, arrived perfectly seared Brittany scallops nestled in sweet creamed corn, adorned in a halo of peppery arugula. Each bouncy medallion of scallop had a perfect caramelised crust which enveloped a sweet, incredibly tender center. The sweet corn accentuated the sweetness of the scallops, while the arugula provided a slightly bitter peppery note for balance.
A family-style feast followed the starters, starting with rosy slices of magret de canard seared to perfection with a kiss of blush in the center. The almost fork-tender duck arrived glazed in a shiny coat of jus and orange gastrique, and was served alongside fresh orange segments. Sweet roasted carrots and blistered Brussels sprouts served as rustic sides. Even those of us who were not fans of Brussels sprouts were converted by the sweetness of the caramelised leaves. The beef tagliata was slow-roasted for hours on the bone, making the hefty rack of rib eye buttery tender. The hearty meat paired well with creamy mash and crunchy blanched broccoli. After indulging in a sumptuous cheese board with a refreshingly simple green salad, we move on to the final movement of the evening – wild strawberries and chocolate tart. Each ruby berry was the size of a fingernail, but packed full of flavour. Biting into the strawberries reminded me of long walks in sun-drenched fields in the French countryside. Because these berries are jet-fresh from France, and highly perishable, the tart was a rare and special treat.
Verdict: Much like an elusive truffle, The Hidden Table is a rare gem that is truly a treat for the palate. Dining here is a very personalised experience, as a tailor-made menu is discussed with the chef beforehand based on the guests’ preference and also the seasonality of ingredients. Chef Nelson is down-to-earth, humble, and truly passionate about his craft. He chooses only the best ingredients to give his guests the most optimal experiences. We will definitely be back for more.
2015 Harbour Industrial Building, 10 Lee Hing Street, Ap Lei Chau, 9029 9365