Nordic restaurant review: Frantzen’s Kitchen by Chef Bjorn Frantzen in Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
A night experiencing all new flavours
I’m not sure I ever think of my meals as just sustenance (well, maybe my super healthy Nood Food salad lunches), but some meals are definitely more of an occasion than others. Take my meal at Frantzen’s Kitchen, the first Hong Kong restaurant from Michelin-starred chef Bjorn Frantzen, as an example. From start to finish, it was quite different from any other meal I’ve had in Hong Kong.
Being the first to arrive, I some time to take in my surroundings and cool off from the spring heat. (In Hong Kong, “spring” this year means over 30 degrees celsius and humid, humid, humid air.) Sat around the bar with me, there was a group of what looked like boisterous male business colleagues and a family of three having a relaxed and mostly silent meal. Later in the night, an artsy French family - with the mom wearing a funky lucite ring the size of my face - joined too. Frantzen’s might be a tiny spot, but it definitely attracts a wide, varied clientele.
But back to the menu. I’m no wine and spirits aficionado, but you’ll have fun if you are. The drinks menu is massive with many, that I assume are unique to Hong Kong, Nordic options. Both my glass of house white wine and my date’s Nordic G&T were great.
I quite liked that our menu was our paper placemat; it added a layer of casualness and allowed our focus to be on the food. Those looking for a more romantic experience might want to ask for a table, but I really liked sitting at the bar and watching each bite get made. And I say bite because most of the dishes are bite-sized. Even so, we opted to choose a wider variety of indulgent-sounding starters (known as “Snacks” and “To Begin” on the menu) than the lighter-sounding mains.
Let’s start with the Swedish Sushi ($80 per piece) because it was my favourite, even if it took me a second to understand what I was eating. A piece of raw roe deer was placed atop frozen bird’s liver and a bed of crispy lichens (what I later learned was a composite organism that comes from algae) and garnished with cep mayonaise. Bottom line: it was a fatty, tasty bite.
The French Toast ($115 per piece) is an Instagram favourite, and comes with a small cup of truffle tea. An aged cheese finger sandwich was topped with summer truffle and the tiny drops of sticky balsamic vinegar helped to cut through its richness. There wasn’t anything bad about this dish, though it didn’t have me craving seconds like the sushi did.
I’m not usually a chawanmushi ($75) fanatic, but this little dish was lovely. The egg custard was heavily flavoured with cauliflower puree, and accented with fermented mushroom juice, herring caviar, and fragrant drops of thyme oil. Lots of taste buds were hit with this dish.
The Seven Gardens salad ($195) contained a variety of vegetables sourced from seven gardens in the New Territories, and the vegetables were cooked eight different ways. Definitely an interesting dish to try, but at the end of the day they are vegetables (albeit tasty ones) and my favourite thing about this dish was that they ladled small spoonfuls of butter all over it.
Loved the Norwegian Salmon ($225). This tartare-like dish had a variety of textures and flavours (from poached crab to ikura roe to avocado) but was topped with a sour cucumber crumble that reminded me of sour cream and onion powder (...sophisticated eater right here!). This was also lovingly topped with liquid butter.
A well-cooked scallop is my idea of food heaven. The smooth texture was complemented by a creamy sabayon sauce and umami dashi.
It’s hard to take a good photo of soup, but this white onion veloute was easily the creamiest, tastiest onion soup I’ve ever had. I might even like it more than the kind with lots of stringy cheese.
While we were overly full, we couldn’t leave without trying a dessert too. The smoked ice cream ($145) was the most interesting sounding dish with “tar syrup.” It was served with a flourish too, with the salted fudge melting the chocolate shell until it revealed the ice cream. Usually, I’d rather have an extra appetizer than dessert but I happened to like this more than my date who has a perma sweet tooth. Something about the weirdness of the treakle-like syrup was so bittersweet and addictive.
In typing out this blog post, I realized what gluttons we were that night. I liked some things more than others, but every dish was worth trying. And I haven’t even mentioned the house salted whipped butter and crackers. The butter was insanely moreish, and we must have had three servings. There was no judgement from the restaurant either; they just brought out a new set the moment our butter supply was looking low. That’s the thing about Frantzen’s, I suppose. It was a fancy meal, but we felt right at home.
11 Upper Station St, Sheung Wan, 2559 8508