I had the dis(pleasure) of dining at a two-star Michelin restaurant a few weeks ago and the experience is definitely one that will stay with me for quite some time. Bo Innovation in Hong Kong is ranked 65th in 2010 San Pellegrino’s Best Restaurant in the World list due to owner and executive chef, Alvin Cheung experimental and innovative take on traditional Chinese dishes. And experimental it was!
The meal was a testing menu so it was served as multiple small plates. It began with dripping wet wine glasses on the table. When we ask for them to be changed, the server simply wiped them dry with a napkin right in front of us!
One of its appetizers consisted of a liquefied paste of century egg (a preserved duck egg that is green-ish black-brown in colour and rubbery in texture) and pickled ginger with a piece of dry ice served in a martini glass. It was hardly appetite inducing.
Its signature dish ‘Molecular Xiao Long Bao’ — a little jellified ball that gives you all the flavours of the classic soup dumpling without having to chew or bite anything — looked like a raw egg yolk that has been left sitting on a ceramic spoon for too long. It pop on this own like a ripe pimple inside my mouth.
Another highlight of the meal was watching the server toss a few lumps of ginger tea into a white vapour-filled bowl of chemicals. Putting the icy pale-beige lump into the mouth was like licking a frozen telephone pole, except it was totally inverted and instead of my tongue, it was my entire mouth.
I start counting down the course because it became quite unpleasant — and very quick. I can appreciate the creativity behind the food but the entire dining experience felt like a lab experiment rather than a luxury dining experience that would have cost HK $1,880 (approx. $242 USD) per person, wine not included.
When I was a little kid, I used to mix all the leftovers and extra condiments from the table for fun — a little soy sauce, chicken bones, onion, fish eye balls, and a dab of wasabi – but, I never made anyone eat it. Let alone charge people for the pleasure.