Monday, December 12, 2016

Wagyu Takumi Hong Kong

Hong Kong Michelin guide is often perceived as the overrated one (even after 8 years) - many so called pundits especially from Europe believe the inspectors have been too lenient when giving away multiple stars. While I often agree with many of them, I found one of the places that hardly cause any controversy about the restaurant's merit was Wagyu Takumi. The restaurant (owned by the Lai Sun group) may not be that famous yet since it's only established in 2013. In addition, its location is relatively hidden, on a secluded road of the Oakhill area in Wan Chai. The 'founder' chef was Mitsuru Konishi who used to work at Taillevent Paris; he resigned in early October this year. The current executive chef is Daisuke Mori who has been working at Wagyu Takumi for 2 years; he was also working at Taillevent as well as Chateau Robuchon Tokyo. Given his qualification and experience, I felt that I was in good hand even during this 'transition' period and Mori-san just proved that during my dinner here. There's one menu only: 8-course tasting menu (well, 9 dishes in my case since I ordered an extra main course). The meal began with good sourdough bread accompanied by smoked sea salt butter supplied by Bordier.

Amuse Bouche - 3 kinds of seasonal items were:
-Botan ebi tartar with ikura - neither extremely fresh nor sweet; quite average
-Fennel soup with Hokkaido crab & olive oil - tasty with some flavor depth
-Deep fried squid - salty and tasted more like Chinese food

Sanma (Pacific saury) served with Fresh herbs and Sweet bitter sauce - Hidden under the Sanma were: couscous, cucumber and tomato yielding texture and flavor variations. The pan-seared Sanma was fresh and tasty; the sweet sauce was contrasted by the thick, bitter & intense liver. A satisfying dish    

Hokkaido Uni (Sea urchin) served with Lily root and Caviar - Actually, this dish was mainly about the delicate & 'unique' lily root having subdued sweetness & slight nuttiness. It was integrated with creamy uni, salty caviar and light but not-so-smooth lobster jelly at the bottom. A balanced dish with some umami flavor in it

Tako (Octopus) cooked with Red wine and served with Pumpkin espuma/froth and Truffle foam - The tako, also cooked with butter, was massaged for a few hours previously, resulting a 'super' tender flesh of octopus with minimal chewiness. The taste was great. The grapes provided some acidity whereas the fluffy/sweet pumpkin espuma was not too rich thankfully; the foam had a weak truffle flavor. Perhaps, that's why the staff offered some white truffle shaving instead which I politely declined. I think the dish was already good by itself (without the Alba truffle)

Awabi (Abalone) served with Barley risotto, Shimanto seaweed and Lotus root - One of Wagyu Takumi's signature dishes. The (French) barley was prepared al dente; it absorbed the stock perfectly to produce buttery, creamy and fragrant risotto. The rather tender yet pleasantly chewy (New Zealand) abalone was slowly and meticulously seared - really delectable. The celery foam on top was refreshing. Everything went well here except that I wish the abalone's size had been bigger ...

Kinmedai (Golden eye snapper) served with Cabbage compote and Salsify - The lovely kinmedai was carefully cooked until the skin became crisp and golden. It was fatty, a bit oily and yummy. The salsify was versatile, the sour cabbage compote was intense, the olive oil-caviar and truffle-flavored powder were alright. This dish decently kept up as a bridge between the scrumptious abalone and the main course

Brittany Homard (Blue lobster) served with Lemon-grass flavor and Seasonal vegetables - Instead of Alba truffle, I invested my money for an additional main course and it improved my overall impression of the meal here. The live Brittany lobster was perfectly executed: juicy, having the right texture (tender yet a bit firm) and retained its sweet & original flavor. Both the meaty tail and plump claw were excellent. The sauce was superb; a mixture of lemon grass, coriander and lobster bisque. For the side dishes, the turnip, carrot and caramelized onion were quite enjoyable too - an awesome dish!

Japanese Wagyu charcoal-grilled Tenderloin served with Komatsuna puree and Braised wagyu-stuffed onion - The beef was Hida wagyu tenderloin; it's slowly grilled over Wakayama (white) charcoal. The meat was marbling, succulent/juicy and not overly oily (though it still had some of melt-in-the-mouth sensation, I could still comfortably chew and taste the 'beef'). The wagyu had a wonderful flavor indeed and served in the right portion (100-120 grams). For combination or if you feel 'too much beef', there were mildly sweet puree, garlic, onion and nutty endives

(Caramel) Pineapple served with White truffle ice cream and Maple syrup sauce - The pineapple was alright; a bit thin and soft. The ice cream only had a light truffle flavor but not so sweet. For the crunchy part, take it from the caramel walnut. Overall, it's neither bad nor underwhelming.

Petit fours - All items were made in-house:
-Green tea financier - rather weak green tea
-White truffle macaron - sweet flavor still more dominant
-Cepe chocolate - interesting and unusual

I had 2 glasses of wine for this meal: Burgundy white Montrachet and Bordeaux merlot Saint-Emilion. They're not cheap but the manager/sommelier poured me a generous amount. Furthermore, I received a complimentary Masumi sake in tasting portion. The service here was polite and professional. Things might be a bit stiff at the beginning; even Chef Daisuke Mori looked very intense (all of his helpers in the kitchen were locals). However, as the meal progressed and the staffs felt they got a better control of the situation, the service became more relaxed and smooth. Don Kwok, the manager, cordially began talking to me more often in the middle of the meal onward. Mori-san served and explained one of the dishes; we even had a longer conversation near the end of the meal. In a typical Japanese hospitality, the chef escort me out of the restaurant and Don also walked me out and showed me the way to the nearest MTR station. The main drawback of the meal was probably concerning Wagyu Takumi's dining room. The setting was a high-end Teppanyaki style with rather small dining area. The counter was in L-shape that could accommodate up to 14 people. It was a full-house event and the distance between chairs was not that spacious. The positive part was that the restaurant did not turn the table, at least during my dinner. Overall, I had a great meal experience: delicious food, beautiful presentation, professional and friendly service. Wagyu Takumi definitely deserved its status as a 2-star Michelin restaurants and I would not be surprised if it will receive many other awards in the future.

Please visit here for the pictures: Wagyu Takumi Nov '16

Food: 95 pts

Service: 94 pts

Overall: 95/100