Header image: Wah Kee Farm pork with artichoke, to be paired with Frederiksdal French oak barrel-aged cherry sour
Michelin-starred Roganic is Hong Kong’s only restaurant to hold the prestigious Michelin “Green Star” accolade in recognition of its focus on sustainability, and Head Chef Ash Salmon has been given access to the best small-batch brews from local craft brewer Yardley Brothers in order to create a one-night-only beer-pairing menu on Friday, 25 June. It completely sold out in two hours.
Craft beer has absolutely taken off, all over the world. Even with its real-estate difficulties, Hong Kong now has over 30 home-grown brewery labels. Yardley Brothers was one of the first; they made their brewery official in 2014 and now brew in Kwai Chung. Yardley Brothers pride themselves on artisanal, small-batch brews made with whole ingredients rather than extracts. They specialise in sour beers and have a big influence in driving much of the sour beer trend in Hong Kong.
And so when the Roganic head chef and his team took a tour of the brewery, it was natural that a unique collaboration would come next. Chef Salmon was introduced to a number of beers quite unlike the English ales he grew up with in Warrington, UK, and he has created some fresh dishes to pair with them at the dinner.
He approached the menu pairings as he would food, bringing each beer in as an ingredient and aiming to get a spectrum of flavours in each course.
“Sometimes you want to contrast flavours, and sometimes you need to try to reinforce and complement.” – Chef Salmon
Poached bream, asparagus, capers and lovage paired with Bugs! II: Gamay Noir à Jus Blanc barrel-aged sour
Luke Yardley and his team recently unveiled their extensive barrel-ageing programme, announcing the first in a series of barrel-aged beers called Bugs! New release Bugs! II is a barley-based sour beer that has been ageing in a Gamay Noir à Jus Blanc barrel to add flavour complexity. Expect citrus and cherry notes and an oaky finish when it makes its debut at the dinner. The chef has paired it with delicate poached bream, asparagus, capers and mildly spiced lovage to complement the beer’s unique flavours.
Marjoram-brined cabbage, soy- and miso-glazed shimeji and wasabi foam paired with Thai Chilli Getaway
A very different beer is Thai Chilli Getaway – a sour beer that’s absolutely packed with basil and chilli. It’s quite polarising, intensely flavoured and an interesting inclusion on a fine-dining menu. Chef Salmon has chosen to ground this beer with the earthy flavours of marjoram-brined cabbage (organic and sourced from New Territories), with depth of flavour coming from glazed shimeji mushrooms. We are intrigued by the wasabi foam – whether the spicy mustard and chilli combination will work to reinforce the flavours as the chef has planned and if the dish can hold up.
Clockwise: chickpea wafers, truffle pudding, mackerel tartare
Also served in the Thai chilli sour course are chickpea wafers with fresh cheese and broad beans, along with the signature Roganic soda bread, truffle pudding and locally caught mackerel tartare, so there will be a number of flavours and textures here to try with the spicy beer.
The most traditional of beers on the pairing menu is Hornindal Hazy Farmhouse Pale Ale; it uses hops from New Zealand and Kveik ale yeast from Norway. The tropical flavours and herbal undertones coming from the hops and yeast will be paired with fresh local peas in buttermilk mousse with hazelnuts, whey foam, croutons and salted egg. This dish is supposed to be heartier than it sounds, enough to hold its own against the hoppy flavours of the pale ale.
Tunworth cheese ice-cream sandwich paired with Raspberry Lychee Sour (pictured with salmon and seaweed tarlet)
Camembert-style Tunworth cheese is a firm favourite of Roganic founder Chef Simon Rogan, and its full-fat, buttery goodness has been turned into a cheese course and dessert rolled into one in this brand-new cheese ice-cream sandwich. Berries are a traditional pairing with soft-ripened cheeses, so it seems like a natural extension to match this dessert with the beer Raspberry Lychee Sour, which is tart but not overly sweet. Chef Salmon has brought in the earthiness of the cheese, adding levels of saltiness and bitterness to contrast with the fruit in the beer.
But these are just a few courses on the menu. The entire 12-course menu with paired beers can be found online here.
Roganic is well known for its use of ingredients that are made or grown in-house (which explains the exotic and prolific microgreens) or sourced specifically for the restaurant. We wouldn’t be surprised to see a bespoke beer or two in their future, tailor-made by a local brewery and brought into the family of Roganic regular items.
The Roganic x Yardley Brothers dinner is breaking ground by bringing beer into the fine-dining arena, shining a spotlight on the different types of award-winning beers that are readily made right here in Hong Kong. Will it open minds to try something new or further cement craft beers as elitist and overpriced? Probably both. We hope it’s the first in a series of progressively more adventurous dinners, and we can’t wait to see what’s up next.
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