Sunday, July 6, 2014

AKRAME Summer Menu ( II )

 Chef Akrame Benallal of Michelin 2* fame in Paris was in town in the Hong Kong AKRAME shop.   He was keen to introduce his new Summer Menu dishes to the audience in HK.   Last time I came to here (Review I)  I arrived with a friend to suss it out out of my own pocket,  and my review was probably slightly lukewarm yet positive.   This time around since the French Chef himself is in town,  the restaurant decided to invite me over and asked me to give some real feedback.   Do you want the blue pill,  or the red one instead?


Sea Salt & Pepper -
Presented in shiny polished bowls. 
Appreciated but what counts the most in the end will be the food presented. 



Classy Layout -
It’s thoughtful and energizing young in spirit.



Bread with Lemon Powder Butter -
This time around the bread has no raisins,  and the lemon powder flavour was much stronger.   Encore.   I personally added more salt to the butter.    ~  8/10



Canapes to start off the Lunch -
Olive & Yoghurt Crisp,  Daikon & Parmesan Biscuit with Anchovy paste,  Endive with Salmon roe,  and Cauliflower with Mustard & Breadcrumbs.    I think these were just ok,  they seemed almost like toned down versions and personally -  the starter courses to a great French meal is always about the sophistication of the entrees,  which sets your expectations high about the rest of the meal.   ~  6/10


Grapefruit Juice -
Lovely and what you expect from a glass of pamplemousse as in France. 




Soup of White Asparagus,  Caramelized Almond Pralines,  Smoked Haddock and Orange Blossom Foam -
Interesting with the sweetish almonds.   This was a lovely soup with an interesting juxtaposition of different ingredients.   ~  8/10



Zucchini,  Red Flower Crab,  Mayonnaise & Brown Butter -
This was presented with some Charcoal and Herbs sauce.   It was sweet and delicate.  It was nicely done and one of my favourite courses.   ~  8/10



Lettuce wrapped Conch meat with Tarragon -
It reminds me of a previous Scallops dish here.   I don’t know why but I expected more layerings in the flavours somehow?   ~  6/10



Fried Blue Homard Lobster with Tartar sauce,  Capers & Apple -
Said to be inspired by Fish & Chips concept and lined with salt.  The lobster was actually slow-poached first than flash fried.  A dish that tasted great but seems a bit simple looking?   ~  8/10




Some Viognier wine -
To pair with the above lobster dish. 



Pollock fish soaked in Milk,  with Tandoori Spice,  Cauliflower and Pine Nut Sauce -
The fish was silken smooth,  the tandoori spice was subtle.   I liked the viscous pine nut sauce pairing.   ~  8/10


An Arbois Nature from Jura,  France -
Made from Savagnin



Palette Cleanser of Yoghurt Ice Cream and Basil -
This worked really well and is a trusted combo,  sometimes with other herbs overseas,  but somehow at AKRAME I was expecting a Sorbet Aneth.


Charcoal Smoked French Chicken,  with Potatoes,  Smoked Shallots -
This was smoky and tender,  one of the best dishes with surprise from presentation.   I like my chickens to arrive skin-on usually but this was neat.   ~  8/10




Slow-cooked Iberico Pork Loin with 2 types of Turnips,  Licorice Powder -
The licorice was fun,  the pork fillet for me personally was a bit dry and also lacking the signature Iberian pork taste.  I suspect because this muscle was a bit too lean.  *I tried someone else’s dish and it was more moist and softer,  but still could do with more Iberian pork taste.    ~  6/10



Slow Infra-red Roasted French Pigeon with Raspberry Jelly,  Dehydrated Raspberry,  Grilled Leeks and Jus -
My favourite dish,  the pigeon was gamey but soft,  blending well with the slightly fruity red fruit for summer and balanced with the leek and charcoal sauce again.   ~  8.5/10



Chef Akrame of Michelin 2* fame from Paris -
He is a friendly chap and he likes to play with his food on a daily basis,  it’s very artistic and reminds me of Pierre Gagnaire,  whom he also worked under previously. 



Dessert Do-Re-Mi Courses -
Milk froth with Ginger,  Strawberry Jam and Pepper
Modern Clafoutis with Cherry,  Honey Lavender Emulsion
Creamy Milk Chocolate with Tonka beans,  Crispy Rice and Coffee Ice Cream
The foamy clafoutis with cherry was my favourite,  followed by the chocolate dessert which reminded me of the burnt marshmallow dish I had last time.   ~  7.5/10



Lemon Meringues,  Madeleines and Sea Salt Chocolates as Mignardises -
A lovely finish to the meal.    This revisit to Akrame made me realize that AKRAME Hong Kong seems like a slightly softer version of AKRAME in Paris.  The presentation of the food is toned down even if the core recipes might be similar,  and since they asked for my opinion,  I think they do have competition within the Wanchai vicinity with the likes of the same street’s 22 Ships as well as the lower priced restaurant Serge et Le Phoque not too far away.   Having said that,  I can totally foresee the HK Akrame outlet to receive at least 1 Michelin Star by the end of the year.   I think it has more potential to be unleashed and it is $1388 for around 8 or 9 Courses here,  I personally think the meat courses can be bigger in portion.  *Never think ahead for the customer even if they can’t finish it in the end,  because HK customers expect value for money in terms of portion and sophistication.  




Price:  $1388 + 10% and Drinks  (This 2nd Meal was by Invitation to give some Honest Feedback)
Ease of Access:   4/5   (Wanchai MTR Station.  Same street as 22 Ships)
Rating:  ♕♕♕♕ 1/2

Address:  香港灣仔船街9號,  香港
9 Ship Street, Wan Chai,  Hong Kong
Ph:  2528 5068

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