Restaurant review: Bo Innovation by Alvin Leung, Hong Kong (3 Michelin stars)
Wonderfully creative new "I heart Hong Kong" menu
There were thirteen items on our “I heart Hong Kong” menu so I knew I was in for a fun night. Three years ago, I visited Bo Innovation for lunch, to celebrate my birthday, and went away impressed with the creativity that emanated from the kitchen and restaurant overall. I’d never had the chance to go back and try dinner 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 into its current location in Wan Chai. 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 throughout 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 newest release is the aforementioned “I heart Hong Kong” menu (available Monday to Thursday evenings for $1,380). While thirteen items were listed, it turned 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 smelled it in awhile but recognized it right away. It was new for me but smelled surprisingly light and fresh… not at all granny-like so don’t be worried! As for the twelve food items, 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 what dish inspired it. Can you guess which was the curry fish balls, the wonton noodles, and the lo mai gai?
We were also treated to these luxurious small bites: Bo’s signature X-treme xiao long bao ($90 per piece) and an incredible taro nest with a smoked quail egg and caviar ($280 per piece).
Green Eggs and Ham
Did you know that Dr Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham was inspired by the author’s first experience with century egg? I did not but thought that was super interesting. For this course, soft fatty ham was paired with an “egg” whose white was made of ham stock jelly and yolk consisted of century egg and avocado puree. Might look a bit gimmicky but it tasted really good.
This course may have been my favourite of the night for how unusual the flavours were. On the left, a foie gras sauce marinated with a traditional bamboo liquor was poured on bamboo shoots. And on the right, a hunk of foie gras in rice with bamboo ash and a dollop of Sichuan pepper sauce. Before we dug in, the whole dish was lightly misted with more of the bamboo liquor intensifying the experience.
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 - the menu is offered indefinitely but they’ll be switching up the dishes, 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. At some point, I'll need to save up so I can go again! If you’re looking for a special meal with meaning, book yourself in for this.
Also note that Chef Leung has just released a new cookbook called My Hong Kong with Andrew Sun ($480, available at select Bookazine, Swindom and Kelly & Walsh locations). It's a gorgeous coffee table-type book but also contains recipes... if you dare!
2F J Senses, 60 Johnston Rd (entrance is on Ship Street), 2850 8371
*By invitation for Foodie