2010-10-11 189 瀏覽
I thought I really owe Tuscany by H a review even though it is now closed and will be reincarnated into “Gold”, a higher end, more expensive restaurant by Chef Harlan to target high rollers. While this dinner happened last year, I still vividly remember the meal and the dishes as it was one of the best Western dinners I had in Hong Kong since I came back from New York. The great companions and the almost flawlessly executed pasta dishes made it an extremely satisfactory night, even more so tha
Due to the “VIP status” of KC, we had Chef Harlan personally preparing all the dishes for us. The quality of the dishes certainly lived up to the hype, and exhibited the highest standard attainable by Chef Harlan’s kitchen.
While the bread basket was not very exciting overall, the lightly salted grissini were warm and slightly chewy for a quick bite. The focaccia and thin crisps were rather ordinary, and even the pesto sauce aside couldn’t elevate their appeals. I decided to save room for the rest of the food.
When I tasted the first appetizer, the “36 Months Aged Parma Ham, Roma Tomatoes, Rocket and Creamy Burrata Cheese”, I was pleasantly surprised by the extremely soft and velvety texture of the parma ham. They were sliced ultra thin (the way it should be), and it was deeply flavored without being one-dimensionally salty. This was so much better than the parma ham I had at other high end Italian restaurants in Hong Kong like Sabatini and Angelini. The burrata cheese, one of my favorites (which I had reviewed in Classified Mozzarella Bar, http://www.openrice.com/restaurant/commentdetail.htm?commentid=1989216), was yet another perfect bite and the best burrata I have tasted in Hong Kong. With the sweetness of the tomatoes, the bitterness of the rocket leaves, and the tartness of the balsamic dressing, all these simple ingredients brought together a beautiful marriage of textures and flavors
The meal continued with “Melting in Your Mouth” Slow-Cooked Scottish Salmon on an Italian Summer Salad”. True to its name, the salmon was moist and soft, thanks to the slow-cooking technique. The salad provided the dish with more refreshing flavors to the otherwise monotonous salmon.
“Tasting of Foie Gras 2 Ways – Homemade Smoked Terrine and Pan Seared, Fresh Apricot Jam and Port Wine Sauce” came next. I always find pan seared foie gras to be tasty yet inherently boring in most restaurants, and this one was no exception. The foie gras terrine, on the other hand, was deftly prepared with a rich smokey flavor in a slightly firm yet smooth texture. The sweet apricot jam and the mildly tart port wine sauce provided perfect foils for the luscious foie gras.
“Homemade Tagliatelle, Italian Wild Boar Ragout and Shaved Pecorino Cheese” is a signature dish at Tuscany by H, and it did not disappoint. The tagliatelle was cooked to perfection, justifying the beatuy of al dente fresh pasta. It came in a properly ground and perfectly seasoned gamey wild boar and veal ragout sauce which made every strand of the pasta seriously delicious. The pecorino cheese lent an extra “sharpness” to the dish. It was exuberant, in-your-face, and extremely satisfying!
“Homemade Tagliolini, Prawns, Garlics, Basil, and Vine-Ripen Cherry Tomatoes” was another gorgeously executed pasta dish that emphasized the beauty of simplicity. The eggy thin noodles were lightly coated with a refreshing tomato sauce, and the fresh crunchy prawns provided just a touch of oceanic essence to accentuate the sweet and savory flavors.
We couldn’t resist the tempting combination of FRESH porcini and black truffle when we saw “Tagliatelle, Italian Fresh Porcini Mushrooms and Shaved Summer Black Truffle” as a special of the night, and this slurge was worth every penny of the expensive price. When the dish arrived, the aroma of the black truffle was so intense that we all snapped photos in nano seconds so we could start digging in. There was no shortage of thick-cut fresh porcini slices and thin shavings of black truffles, and every bite was earthiness to the third power, an unalloyed pleasure! We watched it disappeared quickly!
“Wagyu Beef Cheek Ravioli, Goose Liver, and Black Truffle” was highly recommended by our friends and another signature dish at Tuscany by H. While having wagyu beef cheek, goose liver, plus black truffle all in one plate might seem like a sure-win combination, I personally was not a big fan of the shredded beef cheek texture. The ravioli skins were aptly prepared to the right thickness and doneness. The sauce was intensely flavorful and rich, but personally I found the complex flavors of the goose liver and black truffle all seemed to overlay on each other and lost their identities. With this texture as the ravioli filling and the strong sauce, I don’t think it really matters if it was wagyu beef or not.
My focus of the dinner was always the pasta, but the main courses were actually quite exemplary.
“French Challans Black Chicken, Sauteed Summer Baby Vegetables, and Black Truffle Sauce” was surprisingly tender and juicy, which I normally didn’t expect from chicken dish. The chicken had a subtle “chicken” flavor (which usually is missing in poor quality chicken), and the black truffle potato puree lent a earthy and rich creaminess to the dish. Even the side vegetables were delicious, alternating sweet and savory.
While the ocean trout in the “Slow-Cooked Tasmania Ocean Trout, Truffle Mushroom Puree and Organic Asparagus” featured supple oily flesh that was soft and moist, it was to me the least interesting dish we tried (but I rarely find salmon or trout dishes interesting…) especially when it came with the exact same black truffle puree and sauce as the chicken dish. Did I mention that it also came with the same asparagus as the side veggie of the chicken?
“Charcoal Grilled Prime Ribeye of Beef, Sauteed Baby Summer Vegetables, and Red Wine Reducution” was not quite my favorite type of dry-aged ribeye steaks that I am so used to now (too spoiled in the US…), but it was still a gorgeous steak, righteously seasoned and grilled (sans charcoal flavor…). The steak itself was flavorful enough that it didn't need sauce and the (repeated) baby vegetables it came with.
Desserts came with a chocolate cake with gelato and chocolate crème brulee with cream foam. By that time I was way too stuffed, and even they were up to standard, I was no longer paying attention as the previous dishes completely overshadowed them.
The service was exceptional, with the servers attending every single of our needs and answering all our questions and requests knowledgeably.
I don’t believe in judging restaurants based on just a lunch meal (and it’s why you rarely see me writing lunch reviews, particularly of French or Japanese restaurants. This dinner prepared by Chef Harlan himself clearly reflects his talents and skills to use lots of high end ingredients to create contemporary Italian. I never consider Tuscany by H as serving traditional or authentic Italian cuisine, as seen in the use of fancy-pants or global ingredients throughout the menu. However, the most important thing is that Chef Harlan is able to reconcile the earthy and the sophisticated elements, and prepares delicious dishes with skillful executions. It will be interesting to see how his gamble on the high-end venture, “GOLD”, pays off in the near future.