Expensive wine ... and cheap ingredients
It was pretty cool last year when Krug introduced a common-ingredients challenge that saw chefs battling to pair one of the world’s finest champagnes with the lowly starchy potato. But this year’s arranged marriage with eggs is even more exciting, with the programme expanded to include restaurants city-wide, in addition to the elegantly photographed cookbook featuring recipes by the brand’s global Ambassades (including Hong Kong’s Uwe Opocensky, Umberto Bombana and Nurdin Topham). It’s available online, as well, at krug.com.
Elsewhere, Akrame is plating up a the humble egg with chicken and corn to represent all parts of the chicken’s life cycle, a dish that’s served along with full or half bottles of Krug. Catalunya – the Spanish restaurant already known for its sublime egg dishes The Perfect Egg and The Other Spanish Tortilla – presents a new incarnation, a smoked egg with truffle and mushroom, which comes with a glass of champagne and an extra tapas dish until October 31. Foxglove plates up its Egg in the Sea with a glass of bubbly. And even Chinese restaurant Yan Toh Heen is getting in on the game with a wok-fried lobster that comes with crab roe and fried milk – it’s served with a half-bottle of Krug. All of these specials continue through September with the exception of Catalunya’s, which runs until Halloween.
A beach club ... in the middle of the city
Readers will be familiar with the iconic and gigantic Potato Head Beach Club that has held court on Bali’s Seminyak strip since its splashy opening. And while the Hong Kong incarnation sits in an expansive space – by local real-estate standards – it is also decidedly inland, with an address on Third Street in Sai Ying Pun.
“While we may not have the Indian Ocean as our backdrop, the feel of the space is the same,” explains Aisha Speirs, creative director of Potato Head. “The tropical-island life is a core part of our DNA,so we’ve conveyed this in Potato Head Hong Kong too, with lots of the plants and fabrics we use throughout – but all of this contrasts with the conceptual design from Sou Fujimoto, with whom we collaborated on the design of the space.”
The 8,000-square-foot venue also houses a coffee shop, retail area and Kaum, a restaurant that serves Indonesian specialities such as babi guling and nasi goreng. And prepare to see the group expand its concepts further – besides the Bali, Hong Kong and Singapore outlets, there are plans to break ground in Japan and Australia. And if you really want to eat, breathe and live the Potato Head lifestyle, there’s a hotel in the works in Bali, designed by Rem Koolhaas’s OMA. Hey, if Mohammed can’t get to the beach, then why can’t the beach come to Mohammed?
Party time ... and healthy eating
That booze and revelry go hand in hand with unhealthy snacks is a long-accepted truism that Grassroots Pantry’s Peggy Chan is attempting to debunk with The Alternative Caterer, a mobile version of her veggie-centric restaurant. Her moveable feast features options such as satay hedgehog mushroom skewers, kimchee quesadillas, popcorn “chicken” and mini lemon chia seed pancakes, and she’s already worked with the likes of luxury fashion and beauty brands, big corporates and even weddings. Plant-based gastronomy may top people’s lists when they’re aiming for a meatless Monday, but what happens when Saturday night rolls along?
“The misconception that vegetarian food lacks the satisfaction to feed picky eaters, or is deficient of the ‘protein’ required to soak up alcohol is demystified when menus like ours focus so heavily on an abundance of varieties and nutrient-dense ingredients,” says Chan. And guess what – there’s drinking responsibly, but there’s also responsible drinks. “When it comes to the alcohol we choose, we only source the best, the rarest and the highest quality, most of which are also certified organic, biodynamic or naturally grown.”
And high-quality alcohol with less chemical residue combined with healthy ingredients that increase the body’s ability to detox will probably result in less severe hangovers, too — no doubt the best argument for pairing your next Sunday junk trip with a healthy menu.
Ice cream ... and potato chips
So maybe it isn’t haute cuisine, but there’s got to be a reason for lines out the door at the Okashi Galleria x Calbee Plus boutique at Wanchai’s Lee Tung Avenue – and the reason is potato chips freshly baked in store, which are then paired with soft-serve ice cream. The marriage of salty and sweet certainly isn’t anything new, but even this seemed a bit out of left field. But, we rationalised, if people are braving 35-degree weather and relentless blazing sun for a shot at this funny little snack, then the hype must be justified.
Southern fried chicken ... at a Mediterranean restaurant
We’ll be honest. When Isono first opened, it had all the right elements on paper – a location in much-hyped new urban redevelopment project PMQ, a pedigreed interior designer by the name of Joyce Wang who was sweeping awards all over the world, and an expansive Mediterranean menu filled with crowd-pleasing dishes from beef tartare to spaghetti carbonara. But it never quite took off. It’s upstairs sibling, Vasco, which suffered the same unfortunate issues, has been recently revamped as the once popular Drawing Room.
Isono is hoping that a new concept, which it’s terming #takeoverISONO, will breathe new life into the venue. Starting mid last month and continuing until August 13, never-fail Southern fried chicken takes centre stage in the capable hands of Sarah Simmons, the chef who helms New York’s Birds & Bubbles, while chef-hubby Aaron Hoskins dishes out culinary classics from the American south, from shrimp and grits to banana pudding. These delicacies take the form of set lunch, dinner and brunch menus, all paired with champagne, as it is at Birds & Bubbles. “We’ve never been bound by our Mediterranean concept,” explains Drawing Room Concepts CEO Tony Cheng. “And our view is, as long as we focus on the food and provide a unique and interesting dining experience, customers will still have a great time – and fried chicken and champagne sounds like a good time to me!”
Next up we’ll see more funky pair-ups, from a famous Thai restaurant pop-up to a cool Mexican concept.
Champagne ... with ice
Bubbly-maker Moët & Chandon launched its Moët Ice Impérial a few years ago, but the combination of ice and champagne is still proving jarring to traditionalists. That’s natural, according to the brand’s chef de cave, Benoît Gouez – it is, after all, a “radically new way to drink champagne,” he says. But before you turn away in disgust, give the potion a try with the recommended three cubes of ice – and feel free to add some accoutrements, whether it’s a sprinkling of mint leaves, a cool slice of cucumber or some zingy citrus zest. “The rich structure offers a hint of sweetness, and stands up against dilution while catering to all palates,” explains Gouez. Having sampled a glass ... or two ... or three, we have to say it’s one of our favourites from the famous house.