Three years ago, I visited Bo Innovation for lunch to celebrate my birthday, and I went away impressed with the creativity that emanated from the kitchen and restaurant overall. I’d never had the chance to go back to try the dinner menu, so I was excited to see how the restaurant had changed.
While Hong Kong has its fair share of Michelin-starred restaurants, I think Bo is the only one that’s doing modern Hong Kong cuisine. Founding chef and TV personality Alvin Leung is so passionate about this concept that he renamed the restaurant “Bo Innovation: The Hong Kong Story” when it moved to its current location in Wanchai. There’s Hong Kong with a twist everywhere you look, from the MTR light installation that greets you, to the bronze Lion Rock–inspired sculpture displayed in the main dining room, to the Aberdeen fishing boat on the ceiling in the far corner of the restaurant.
Chef Leung is constantly changing the menus and experimenting with new twists on dishes. The current summer special is the I Heart Hong Kong menu (available Monday–Thursday evenings for $1,380/person).
While there were more than 10 items listed on the menu, it turns out that the first one, Smell My Granny, was our welcome towels saturated with an old-school cologne. A few at our table hadn’t smelt this in awhile, but they recognised the scent right away. It was new for me, but it smelled surprisingly light and fresh… not at all granny-like, so don’t be worried! As for the actual food items, so many of them had multiple parts and pieces that it was really like having a 20-course meal.
Here are some of my favourites:
The first part of this course was incredibly fun. We were given three bites along with a postcard illustrated with classic Hong Kong dishes. Our server encouraged us to eat the same bite at the same time and then guess which dish had inspired it. Can you guess which was the curry fish balls, the wonton noodles and the lo mai gai?
The second part was this luxurious selection of dim sum: an incredible taro nest with a smoked duck egg and caviar, Bo’s signature molecular xiao long bao (both the egg and xiao long bao are pictured above) and a soft-boiled egg on fried kale.
Green Eggs and Ham
Did you know that Dr Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham was inspired by the author’s first experience with century egg? I did not, but thought this was super interesting. For this course, soft, fatty ham was paired with an “egg” whose white was made of ham-stock jelly and a yolk consisting of century egg and avocado purée. It might look a bit gimmicky, but it tasted really good.
Here we have a glistening red Carabinero prawn whose head is made out of sesame pastry stuffed with fried prawn paste and sea urchin. This was a table favourite. It came with a bowl of vermicelli cooked in lobster soup and topped with dried shrimp oil to give us dried seafood flavours to complement the fresh.
This course may have been my favourite of the night owing to how unusual the flavours were. On the left, a foie gras sauce marinated with traditional bamboo liquor was poured on bamboo shoots. And on the right, there’s a chunk of foie gras on rice. Before we dug in, the whole dish was lightly misted with more of the bamboo liquor, intensifying the flavours.
Back on the Street
For this one, Chef Leung himself prepared it over the kind of offal-serving food carts that used to be commonly seen on Hong Kong’s streets. This being Bo though, we were given a luxurious twist. Sweetbreads were served with sea urchin mustard, calamansi-spiked hoisin and pickled daikon.
Kudos to Chef Leung and team for putting together this blast-from-the-past menu and giving newish Hong Kongers like myself a fun history lesson plus a wonderful meal. I could have gone on above, but I think half the fun of the I Heart Hong Kong menu is being surprised with each dish. If you’ve read this whole post, fret not as the menu you get will likely have some differences – they’ll be switching it up, especially the bites in Child’s Play. That said, this was one of those meals that I’d love to have again, even knowing what to expect. With tasting menus, it’s tough when you fall in love with a dish and know you can’t just order it anytime you want, but it’s worth the heartbreak to have the experience even once. If you’re looking for a special menu this summer, definitely book yourself in for this one.
1/F, J Senses, 60 Johnston Road (entrance on Ship Street), Wanchai, 2850 8371, firstname.lastname@example.org
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.
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