Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Harlan Goldstein’s COMFORT - (Hong Kong)

  Owned by Chef Harlan Goldstein himself,   a few restaurants and cake shops in Hong Kong still somehow think it’s cool to bear and exploit the original Harlan’s name just because Chef Harlan once worked for their dining group when dinosaurs still roamed the Earth.   As of January 2014,  the only true Chef Harlan owned restaurants are GOLD by Harlan Goldstein,  here at COMFORT and also at Striphouse.   The concept behind Comfort is simpler affordable food that can be shared amongst friends and at an affordable price,  a 2nd tier shop approachable by the masses.   Think of it as a 2nd Wine by a major Wine Maker,  and Osteria Francescana vs sister shop Franceschetta 58,   or even in HK,  8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo compared with CIAK.   I am too impatient to explain this concept because one either gets it or probably won’t,  and I have heard people complaining about the 2nd level shops serving only average food.    Well,  why don’t you work a bit harder and hope you can afford for an indulgent meal at one of their upper echelon restaurants instead?     These lovely restaurants took the gesture to offer a cheaper entry level option like the Titantic ship (and then everybody drowned equally),  and it also happens to be the global dining trend,  and I am enjoying it every bit…

Harlan Goldstein’s Comfort -
A step down in both price and approachability,  this is meant to be a 2nd line to the classier Michelin Starred Restaurant at GOLD by Harlan Goldstein
Much like CIAK is to 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo right now. 




Cocktails here are deliberately priced to be affordable as explained by Chef Harlan -
Starting from only $98 each!!



Truffled Beef Tartare – $138 Served with Pane Carasau
This was diced nicely and I like the additional touch of anchovy.  Quite meaty in taste,  I somehow expected more truffles taste though.   ~  7/10




Soft Shell Crab Bao,  Asian Slaw,  -  $98 for 2
Comes with a Sriracha like chili sauce,  which turned out to be a Hong Kong favorite chili sauce 均益.   I liked the texture of the crab but the bun can possibly be a bit fluffier.  I personally also like more sauce but apparently – not many locals can handle the heat!?   ~  7.5/10



Chicken Wings,  with Soy,  Chilli, Ginger & Spring Onions – $88
These were cooked well but for some reason,  I expected them to be heavier with the chili and ginger and soy explosion.  As they are,  it’s quite elegant.   I have a feeling Chef Harlan expected HK palates to prefer lighter options,  but from my own observation,  HK and Japanese people are kind of similar in that they expect heavily seasoned food and make it rich enough,   but just not be too salty?   If that makes any sense.   Don’t know just my personal guess.   ~  7/10


Dutch Frikandel with Curry Ketchup – $78
Pretty Farking amazing.  Enough said…
I haven’t even had better in Holland and I was so surprised to find this Dutch sausage in HK performing better than in Motherland.  Soft but herby,  love it.   ~  10/10


Bitterballen – Crispy Beef balls and Mustard $78
A must order dish.
   I was surprised to find these here as I travel past Amsterdam and Holland quite a bit due to work.   I eat these almost daily when I am in Holland but guess what?  The version here at COMFORT by Harlans are as good as it gets.   Bloody awesome. ~  9/10



Spanish 5J and Pork Meatballs in Coriander Tomato Sauce – $88
At this lowish price point one can’t complain,  although personally I think the Spanish 5J Jamon wasn’t so apparent and so isn’t the Spanish pork taste.   Texture was fluffy good however.  ~ 6.5/10


Grilled Octopus,  Greek Saffron Potato puree of Skordalia Sauce – $188
I love the Octopus dishes over at sister shop GOLD,  which are usually quite smoky from the grilling.  Over here I thought it can be more charred up,  but I really liked that bottom smooth sauce made of Saffron and Potatoes amongst other ingredients.   Like some other dishes I tried spanning over 2 visits,  I think this was slightly under-seasoned as yet.   ~  7/10


Wagyu Bresaola,  Gorgonzola Blue Cheese, Walnut & Honey – $178
The wagyu bresaola was excellent in taste and texture,  well marbled appropriately.   The addition of Blue Cheese and Walnuts was ingenious too.   Somehow I thought the honeyed part was slightly too sweet …  Perhaps I liked this to be more savory on a personal level?   ~  7.5/10



Wailua Beer from Hawaii – $68
Lovely beer and not too extravagantly priced. 
It was loads of fun when Chef Harlan said he derived at his decent beer pricing point,  as we talked about having dined at exactly the same restaurant which massively over-charged for beers or even water.   Somewhere also serving Baos..   I would rather those shops charge me more for food than for drinks.  Coz I drink much more than I eat lol!


American Duroc Pork Ribs slow-cooked for 24 Hours,  Smoked then Grilled – $288
This was definitely interesting and even addictive.   The fall-off-the-bone meat bit was expected but the crispy surface but with a lack of Dry Rub was a whole new combination in the ribs world.   The side sauce of reduced Balsamic was a nice addition.  Quite a unique recipe and although not integrated instantly in concept,  the parts summed up better than it’s parts in a sophisticated way and I personally really appreciated this variety of recipe.  ~  8/10


Lemon Herbed Halloumi Cheese, on Indian Spiced Spinach – $88
What’s not to like about grilled Halloumi?   It can be more crispened up perhaps and acidulated?  ~  7/10



Crab Meat Crusted Salmon Steak,  Asparagus,  Lobster Cajun Sauce – $188
Couldn’t taste much of the crab meat but the lobster sauce made up for it.   I personally think the Salmon could be cooked more medium-rare too.   Nice concept but getting there..   ~  6.9/10



My Tai Tai Beef Curry with Rice and Pickled Vegetables  – $158
This was really thoughtful and a nice overall package,  quite Asian.   During the time of eating this homely dish,  I did envy Chef Harlan for being able to access this recipe everyday.  Man please learn to share some secrets perhaps?  ; )   ~  8/10



Free Range Australian Yellow Chicken. 
Slow roasted for 4 Hours then quickly Roasted to Crispen up the Skin  -  $358
My favourite dish for one of two nights I dined here.  The meat was moist and the skin was very crispy externally.  Hard to find this absolutely correct combination and really appreciated.   ~  9/10



Warm Waffles, Nutella Ice Cream,  Orange Jam – $68
Decently priced.  I think the waffle can be more crispy dry on the surface.  The Nutella ice cream can also be stronger.   But at this price point no complaints.   ~  6/10




Dark Chocolate Mousse,  Amaretto Cherries, 
Honeycomb and Crispy Popcorn – $68
The mousse was a bit dense but I really liked this combination of flavours.  Sounded more than it tasted in separate components but its being fine-tuned.   ~  7/10



Old School Apple Crumble,  Caramel and Vanilla Ice Cream  -  $68
Easily one of the best representation of a true British Apple Crumble in HK.   Buttery,  chunky,  with a spiced apple base.  Not too sour nor sweet.  Take it for granted but in HK this was top notch  ~  9/10





Food for Friends –
As the 2nd line to the much more prestigious GOLD by Harlan’s,  this dining logo signifies the whole concept behind here’s real intention.   Chef Harlan is trying to make a new restaurant space accessible  by all who walk through their door.    I am really glad I am allowed into here at all,  as it is precisely what I need on a weekly basis and meeting up with friends.  Some recipes will need fine-tuning but sometimes,  it isn’t totally about the food being too snobbish but exactly what you need to fall back on and relax daily.   As I already mentioned already,  you will either get it or you won’t.   They even waive all Cake Cutting charges here as a genuine gesture and what more can you ask for as a favour from a Michelin Starred Chef?   How about them giving you some free Baos too and perhaps unlimited drinks to all of you little greedy accountants within.   This world always operates on margins and I totally buy their brave and very fair,  also fun concept here.    




Price:  $400.  Visited Twice.  Once by Invitation and subsequently a Revisit by myself. 
Ease of Access:   4/5 
Food:  ♕♕♕♕  to  ♕♕♕♕ 1/2

Address:  中環蘭桂坊15-16號協興大廈5樓
Level 2, LKF Tower, 33 Wyndham Street, Lan Kwai Fong, Central
Ph:  2869 9986

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