Thursday, March 31, 2011

Spring is in My Hair

Life is getting really good right about now. Hong Kong is trying to do its own version of Restaurant Week this year called Springalicious and I'm getting invited to try all of these wild restaurants' special tasting menus. Holla.

The first tasting I was invited to was at 1/5 nuevo, a Spanish place that I've been hearing about. To be honest, I have read enough and heard enough from my friends to be a little wary of Spanish places here. Hong Kong is in the throws of a tapas frenzy and there are little mediocre tapas places popping up everywhere. So, my expectations were not high when I made my way to the restaurant. Thankfully I was really wrong about this place. The food was top-notch, the wine was just right and the price was really impressive. A four course meal with a wine pairing during Springalicous is just HK$228 which is kind of amazing but even the normal price of HK$286 seems low to me...

Also, you might notice that my pictures look awfully professional. That's because they are and I want to thank Henry Kao for photographing our meal. And no that doesn't mean I'm getting paid to write this.

Anyway, snackies!

We started with this little trio of cold tapas: a shot of gazpacho, a slice of Iberico ham and a plump marinated anchovy on toast. This was yummy. Iberico ham is always welcome but to be honest the stars of this dish were the other two. I love me some anchovies and this pudgy oily little nugget did not disappoint. The gazpacho was actually extremely good. I wanted a pint instead of a shot. It was so refreshing especially in collusion with the anchovy.

Next up was the hot tapas, which for some for some reason there are no pictures of. Braised ox tail and grilled sardines. This was an exact opposite of the cold tapas. Where they woke me up, these put me in a rich comfy stupor. I feel like a traitor liking ox tail because my father hates it so much (once in a restaurant when the waiter said that day's special was ox tail soup my dad uncontrollably gagged so loudly that they thought he was choking), but I really do love it. It's one of the great, slow, lip smacky meats that always makes me feel like I'm snowed in somewhere. This oxtail was really meaty and cooked very well; it fell apart on the fork and left me feeling full for almost fourteen hours. The sardines were, of course, great. For some reason everyone at the table ate theirs so I ended up eating a whole school of them. Not that I'm complaining.

The main dish, of which I also have no picture was certainly no respite from the richness of the hot tapas. Duck confit with garlic potato and port wine sauce. I've had a long sting of bad western duck experiences in Hong Kong, although I've had an equal number of great Cantonese duck experiences and straight up life changing moments with some geese, but this broke the losing streak. This confit was intense but delicious with crackly skin covered in big flakes of sea salt and fatty tender meat. The port sauce was light and cut the grease of the bird nicely and not at all like the cloyingly sweet versions of this sauce I've had elsewhere. Also, the portion was surprisingly huge. This duck must have been SERIOUS.

To be honest I don't remember the potatoes. Whatever that means.

BA-BLOW!! Desert dropped like it knows what's up! Creme caramel, apple tart and caramel ice cream. The creme caramel was well done. Lovely, no surprises no disappointments. The caramel ice cream was ice cream that had the flavor of caramel. See what I'm sayin? And the tart was deceptively thin for the fat flavour it was hiding. Flaky, delicate, light and gone too soon. Put them all together and you got my eyes rolling around in public.

Also, there was wine! Two reds, a Cava (Spanish sparkling) and a desert wine. That's about as wine savvy as you'll see this blog get. But they were just enough to get me in the right head space to get back to work. Thanks nuevo!

I hope there are more tastings coming up...

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