@hun­gry.pea

With a pas­sion for all things edi­ble and a flair for the culi­nary that cul­mi­nated in her grad­u­a­tion from Le Cor­don Bleu, Caro­line Li takes #leg­end read­ers on a tour of good tastes

#Legend - - HUNGRY PEA -

TRUF­FLE UP While many flock to Liu Yuan Pav­il­ion for hairy crab this sea­son, oth­ers cel­e­brate the ar­rival of an­other prized gem: the white truf­fle! It’s an aro­matic, vege­tar­ian del­i­cacy that doesn’t add to your waist­line – what could be bet­ter?

Au­tumn is fi­nally here, and with the cool breeze comes the sweet ar­rival of white truf­fle sea­son. Although last year wasn’t a good one for truf­fles, 2018 seems to be more promis­ing. The town of Alba, Italy pro­duces the world’s most cel­e­brated and high­est-value white truf­fles; here are some of the city’s favourite spots for th­ese gems. You’d bet­ter get your stom­ach ready to eat up a storm.

VEA Restau­rant and Lounge

From his Miche­lin- starred con­tem­po­rary French restau­rant, chef Vicky Cheng served up the first batch of Alba white truf­fles of the sea­son – and they didn’t dis­ap­point. A def­i­nite promis­ing start to truf­fle sea­son, th­ese fra­grant gems of­ten come with a touch of pink. “The most aro­matic white truf­fles grow un­der chest­nut trees and the closer they are to the trees, the bet­ter the taste,” says Cheng. “Some­times you get a bit of pink in your truf­fles, which are stained from the chest­nuts in the ground as they grow. That’s al­ways a good sign be­cause you know you’ve got a good truf­fle. Also, a truf­fle should al­ways be hard, not mushy to the touch.” Th­ese gor­geous white truf­fles are shaved onto hand­made chi­tarra pasta and sautéed in a truf­fle but­ter as a sup­ple­men­tal course. If you’re lucky, Cheng might make you his spe­cial white truf­fle grilled cheese sand­wich with a crispy parme­san crust, maybe topped with caviar for an even more deca­dent touch. VEA serves an eight- course Chi­ne­sein­spired French tast­ing menu, with the op­tion of a cock­tail pair­ing by mas­ter mixol­o­gist An­to­nio Lai or a wine pair­ing. For those who don’t like to sit on the high counter seats, there’s a de­light­ful pri­vate room at the end of the im­mac­u­late open kitchen that can seat up to 12 peo­ple.

Neigh­bor­hood

Chef David Lai’s cosy eatery off Hollywood Road is a must-visit for white truf­fle lovers dur­ing the sea­son. An es­tab­lish­ment known for its spe­cial pre- or­der dishes such as the In­sta­gram-fa­mous creamy morel mush­room chicken rice and kinki fish paella, Neigh­bor­hood is an ideal place to sat­isfy your white truf­fle crav­ings. Here, you can pur­chase your own white truf­fle, choos­ing from a range of dif­fer­ent sizes that suit your party, and have the truf­fle shaved onto any dish on the menu you de­sire. You can also try your hand at shav­ing the truf­fle your­self – af­ter all, the whole truf­fle is yours. White truf­fles and dairy go hand in hand; as long as there’s some fat in your dish, it’ll be a win­ner. If you’re more of a black truf­fle fan, you can do the same with black truf­fles here dur­ing the avail­able months. A great place for date nights and group gath­er­ings, reser­va­tions (es­pe­cially on the week­ends) must be made well ahead of time, as Neigh­bor­hood is quite an in­ti­mate restau­rant.

CIAK: In The Kitchen

Con­ve­niently lo­cated in Land­mark,

CIAK boasts some of the tasti­est piz­zas in town. A great place for post-work drinks or din­ner, this Ital­ian trat­to­ria is home to a pizza that’s loaded with shaved white truf­fles – so much so that the pizza it­self is en­tirely cov­ered by them. Mouth­fuls of shaved white truf­fles come at a steep price, but true truf­fle fa­nat­ics shouldn’t miss this in­dul­gent ex­pe­ri­ence. A whole white pie is cov­ered with fra­grant white truf­fles, shaved ta­ble­side. For a more clas­sic dish, go for CIAK’s house- made tagli­olini pasta, which high­lights the unique­ness of the white truf­fles.

Haku

Across the har­bour, we all know about the white truf­fle din­ners at Sa­ba­tini, but why not switch it up and try Haku at Ocean Ter­mi­nal in­stead? This restau­rant serves in­no­va­tive Ja­panese tast­ing menus by ex­ec­u­tive chef Agustin Balbi. The Ar­gen­tinian chef, whose wife is Ja­panese, worked in Miche­lin- starred restau­rants in Ja­pan for five years and un­der­stands the coun­try’s flavour pro­file very well.

His sig­na­ture dishes in­clude sea urch­in­cov­ered brioche bites and koshi­hikari rice with egg yolk and Kristal caviar. For the sea­son, white truf­fles can be shaved onto this sig­na­ture rice and a dessert of milk ice cream and Ja­panese whiskey caramel. Watch for Haku’s col­lab­o­ra­tion lunches and din­ners with Miche­lin chefs from all over Ja­pan, such as chef Hiroy­asu Kawate of the renowned Flo­rilège of Tokyo ( which is No. 3 on the Asia’s 50 Best Restau­rants 2018 list) and chef Hideaki Mat­suo from the three- Miche­lin- starred Kashi­waya in Osaka.

Gaia Ris­torante

Gaia has been around for a long time – and for good rea­son, too. This Ital­ian restau­rant has a charm­ing out­door area adorned with sparkling lights and big red um­brel­las at night, wel­com­ing the city’s glit­terati for long, leisurely lunches and ro­man­tic can­dle-lit al­fresco din­ners. Known for chef Paolo Monti’s de­li­cious thin-crust piz­zas, Gaia also of­fers a small white truf­fle menu dur­ing the sea­son. Want eggs with your truf­fle?

How about in­stead of a scram­ble, go for two per­fectly fried Ital­ian eggs with roasted mush­rooms, fin­ished off with white truf­fle shav­ings? Sounds di­vine? Wait un­til you try it with Gaia’s white pizza, shaved with white truf­fles ta­ble­side. Pasta op­tions are also avail­able, as with the tagli­olini with parme­san and white truf­fles. While you’re there, don’t for­get to get your veg­gies in and or­der the mine­strone – veg­gie-packed and with a de­li­cious touch of basil to balance out your carb-heavy meal.

Belon

Per Se alum­nus Daniel Calvert is well-known for mak­ing some of the tasti­est roast chicken in town, but did you know about his flair for pasta-mak­ing? Ex­pect beau­ti­fully crafted dishes like the pil­lowy-soft bur­rata stuffed scarpinocc (candy-shaped pasta) with basil, or the chest­nut tortel­loni with fiore sardo. Come white truf­fle sea­son, we can ex­pect de­li­cious bowls of Calvert’s hand-rolled ca­vatelli – show­ered with shaved truf­fles, of course. While you’re there, save room for Belon’s desserts, which aren’t to be missed. The clas­sic mille-feuille, the tarte au choco­lat “Bernard Pa­caud”, the Fukuoka peach and koshi­hikari rice pud­ding with chamomile tarts, the house-made pop­corn ice cream with truf­fles… who knows what this young chef will come up with next? To end the evening, as­cend to Up­stairs at Belon to en­joy some live jazz and a night­cap. Clock­wise from top left: The Ta­leg­gio and moz­zarella pizza with shaved Alba white truf­fles and the white truf­fle Ta­leg­gio tagli­olini at CIAK; this fist­ful of white truf­fles is worth about HK$10,000; the hand­made chi­tarra pasta with shaved Alba white truf­fles and a box of freshly de­liv­ered gi­ant Alba white truf­fles at VEA

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