Hong Kong

Liberty private works, Hong Kong

Helmed by chef Vicky Cheng, who has staged at placed like the now closed L2O, Alinea, Momofuku and having worked at Daniel Bouluds main restaurant, the young chef has since brought back an invaluable wealth of culinary experience to Hong Kong, and developed a menu that is largely Asian-inspired using modern techniques. As you will learn at the end of the blog post, the restaurant is run by a very small team, but still manages to put out a lot of dishes for a lot of people. It really does go to show how much more efficient kitchens are able to run using equipment like sous vide and soda canisters, which revolutionizes the workflow of kitchens and allow much more food to be prepped beforehand and fired up for plating very quickly.

Tasting of melon- Compressed melon, yuzu curd, thai chili yogurt

The yuzu curd really tied the whole dish together, the tartness and wonderful citrusy aroma paired well with all the different melons on the plate. The melons were compressed under vacuum, giving it a more intensified flavor, while altering the texture to make it more dense, despite this, it still retained a ‘crunchy’ texture. I really liked the flavor of the olive oil with the mozzarella cheese as well. Refreshing plate of food with very clear individual flavors despite the multiple components. Good

Tuna, Sea Urchin, Espelette pepper, puffed rice

One of their two signature dishes which never ever changes, this was right up my alley. You start on the left of the plate by first eating the frozen grape that has been poached in riesling, this is supposed to lower the temperature of your palate to prep you for the tuna tatare(I really can’t tell if theres a difference). The combination of the oily, soft tuna with the crispy puffed rice was incredibly delicious, the oil from the fish sort of eased the dryness of the rice, the portioning of each component was spot on as well. I liked that they reconstitute the basic ingredients of sushi but the textures are completely different, the tartare itself was perfectly seasoned. The caviar gave the dish a complex briny flavor. The one criticism of the dish is that the flavor of the uni was a little lost amongst the heat coming from the spices in the tuna, I think it could have been chilled colder to contrast some of that heat on the tongue. But the longan, served as a palate cleaner, did just that. Very well thought out dish, doesn’t hurt that it looks amazing as well. Superb

Scallop, Iberico ham, Dashi, egg white

This was a dish strewn with problems. The scallop didn’t taste very fresh to begin with. The individual components just didn’t really taste that good, case in point, the dashi jelly with cubes of iberico. The fishy broth and the iberico didn’t work well together at all, I couldn’t tell if the components were meant to be eaten separately or otherwise, and despite trying to mix them, I couldn’t really find a strong link between each of them, the whole dish was more confusing than that thermodynamics class I failed in college. The best thing on the plate was the daikon which was nicely cooked and had a soft texture while retaining its pleasant root flavor. It was easily the worst dish of the night. Bad

Market fish (Amadei), chanterelle, peas, vanilla

The amadei was seared with its skin on, I thought it was a little dry but the skin was decently crisp. The pea-vanilla purée was the star of the show for me, the aroma of the vanilla tells your brain that you are going to eat something sweet, and the pea purée provides that sweetness, but the sweetness obviously deriving from the peas, and not sugar, very cool. I like the contrast of flavor of the chanterelles with the peas, I do wish that there were more chanterelles on the plate. The pickled onion cut through the sweetness of the pea purée nicely. Good

Egg, truffle, parmesan, caviar

The other of LPW’s speciality dishes, the yolk sealed into the raviolo is meant to be broken and stirred into the sauce, giving it more body and a much richer mouthfeel. The Parmesan foam is made by infusing the the Parmesan rind into heavy cream, then aerating it in a whipping cream canister. I found the combination of all these strong flavors to be a little too overpowering, the truffle oil was very strong as well(I’m not crazy about truffles to be fair), there was nothing to cut the richness apart from the caviar, and there was barely any caviar on the plate to begin with. I can understand why people would like this dish, but it didn’t do all that much for me other than bloat me up. Okay-good

Pigeon, barley, beets, chocolate

The duck breast was expertly cooked, and the flavor paired very nicely with the earthiness of the beet, and bitterness of the chocolate- it seemed to retain its game-y flavor without getting lost in the purée and chocolate sauce. The duck confit was nice as well, soft and unctuous, contrasted in texture with the crispy, buttery brioche tuile(dehydrated maybe?). The duck fillet was smoked in a container using the smoking gun, and it surprisingly retained quite a strong smoky aroma, I think this was my first experience with the smoking gun, according to the chef, only the filet is smoked because he does not want the smokiness to overwhelm the dish. Can’t argue with that. The issue I had with the dish was a disparity in the level of seasoning, the confit was much more heavily seasoned compared to the breast and filet, this would otherwise have been a very good dish. Good-v good

Pork, Cauliflower, rhubarb, macadamia nut

The rhubarb was a genius addition to the dish, I don’t think I’ve ever had rhubarb paired with pork, but it really works well to balance out the rich pork flavor. The curry carrot purée had a wonderful spiced curry aroma, although I’ve had this combination before and it has never disappointed, the cauliflower sauce was very smooth. The letdown of the dish was the protein, the belly had soft, falling apart texture, along with a crisp skin. Not something that is easy to achieve, so I definitely appreciated that, but it was a little on the dry side. The tenderloin, on the other hand, was very dry, strange considering that it was cooked sous vide and then quickly sautéed. An inferior product with low fat content maybe? A real letdown in an otherwise good dish. Okay

Pineapple, coconut, olive oil, black pepper

There were many components on the plate that I’m too lazy to list, but I’ll talk about those that stood out: the best thing on the plate was a mochi with a creamy, cold, sweet coconut mousse embedded within. It was a wonderful little surprise when you but into it and the mousse oozed out. Delightful. The piña colada foam was fizzy(CO2 charge into heavy cream), it was quite an amazing sensation, eating a fizzy foam. Hardly an inspired pairing of flavors but hard to really fault anything in the dessert. Okay-good

Chocolate, Honeycomb, Creme Fraiche, salt

The chocolate ganache was very rich but the tanginess of the creme fraiche ice cream helped to offset that nicely. The honeycomb was a little too big and should probably have been served in two pieces(it was a little too brittle and a little tough to break with a fork), I couldn’t get much vanilla from the crumble but it did provide a nice crunch to the dish. Not particularly impressive, just like the previous dessert, but I did like the creme fraiche ice cream, so this just about edges it. Good

I quite enjoyed my meal at LPW, what impressed me the most was how much value you get for your money. For the amount you’re paying, you’re getting an incredible amount of food, with some surprisingly premium ingredients like uni and osteria caviar(twice!). The place is run by a team of young, motivated, and very talented chefs. You can feel their ambition just from reading dishes on the menu, but I feel that they have made their life needlessly tough. 1, or maybe even 2 dishes could easily be culled from the menu, and the effort/time/money saved could be better spent on refining other dishes, especially those with issues with protein(fish,pork,scallops), regardless of whether the issues stem from improper execution or inferior ingredients.

If memory serves me right, there were 5 chefs serving 20+ covers that night, which made the dinner exceedingly long at 3+ hours(and we were the second group in the restaurant that night), courses started to slowdown drastically when a large group came into the restaurant about halfway through our meal. This is a lot of work for a small group of chefs to handle.

What I did enjoy was the bar type concept of the restaurant, where food is finished and plated in full view of the diner. It seems that many restaurants have now taken on this concept, along with a fixed degustation menu; I have personally always believed that this is the truest way to judge a restaurant and I’m glad the chefs have chosen to put themselves out there. The restaurant phases out and replaces a dish on their menu every month, with the exception of their 2 signature dishes, so steps are in place to make sure that the restaurant remains creative and allows room for it to evolve.

The food at LPW is good, not great, just good, and I don’t think the food is as good as many other blogs make it out to be; be that as it may, I would recommend LPW to anyone visiting Hong Kong without hesitation, it offers incredible value and a glimpse of fine dining in a relatively relaxed setting. The are innovative and I thoroughly look forward to what the kitchen will be able to come up with the next time I visit. Be sure to make reservations early and bring a cushion, because those bar seats get pretty damn uncomfortable after about 2 hours in.

Orange madelines to end the meal