When we heard that American celebrity chef and restaurateur Marc Forgione would be found at Hong Kong's Lily & Bloom last week for a brief pop-up, we scurried over to Central with the hopes of seeing (and tasting) the artistry that won the internationally renowned chef a Michelin star and the coveted title of America's youngest-ever Iron Chef. Settling into the handsome, old-Manhattan-inspired restaurant on the fifth floor of LKF Tower, we listened intently as Chef Forgione cheerfully explained the philosophy behind his menu: to encapsulate the flavours of New York as the melting pot of the world. We appreciated the difficulty of combining such a diverse variety of tastes (as is found in New York), requiring not only refined culinary skills but also out-of-the-box thinking.
Chef Forgione's creativity was evident right off the bat. We tasted a small dish of hiramasa (yellowtail), paired with avocado, pine nuts, Saratoga potato crisps and Sichuan buttons (those small-but-lethal yellow flower buds we love and dread in equal measure). By creating a tingling and slightly numbing sensation, the Sichuan buttons cleverly muted the flavours of the sashimi and creamy avocado for a fresh, light start to the meal. The Saratoga crisps added a bit of crunch. By contrast, the BBQ baked oysters that arrived next were flavourful, covered in a fragrant curry-esque sauce.
The Singaporean chilli-crab-inspired chilli lobster was cooked in a sauce that tasted as rich and fiery as it looked, and the accompanying Texas toast mopped up the generous portion of leftover goodness without turning soggy. We were not surprised to learn that the dish has become a favourite at the chef's Tribeca restaurant.
The perfectly executed halibut en croute was a delicious demonstration of the chef's training and talent in classic French cuisine.
Representing a crossover of two New York City classics (dry-aged steak and a delicatessen-style pastrami sandwich), the pastrami rib-eye was innovative and interesting as opposed to overly pretentious or gimmicky (as we often find in Hong Kong). The rib-eye was topped with a classic NYC kosher dill pickle, adding a sweet, zesty dimension to the otherwise heavy steak. This was easily our favourite from the menu.
To round off a great evening, we cracked The Egg (white chocolate) with our spoons to reveal the gorgeously orange yolk (passion fruit sauce) hidden inside.
While Chef Marc Forgione's father, Larry, is known as 'the godfather of American cooking' for his role in transforming the status quo of American cuisine at his iconic NYC restaurant An American Place, it appears that the younger Forgione shares the same ingenuity and energetic, off-beat spirit.To book Lily & Bloom
5/F and 6/F, LKF Tower, 33 Wyndham Street, LKF, Central, 2810 6166
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation.