Monday, January 10, 2011

Va Bene (Hong Kong)


I have to be honest here and as mentioned I am yet to appreciate the love for truffles, any sort of truffles for that matter, white or black, winter or summer truffles. It is quite true that perhaps I don't have enough opportunities to enjoy them due to the apparently low supply of them hence the relatively exclusivity to consume. I was very honored to be invited by Va Bene for a media tasting for their soon to launch Winter Black Truffles menu. It was my very first of such event, I mean Media Luncheon. I guess the FEAST event / blogger gathering was of similar nature right? In any case, I took on this invitation mainly because the word truffles came up and this would be a good chance for me try more (and meet more people as the same time). I considered this tasting as a  Black Winter Truffle Appreciation session more or less a personal fulfillment of some sort. Some may question on the true representation of my meal due to the nature of my visit and it is a valid argument which I cannot dispute. Feel free to adjust your expectation accordingly but all I can say is that I enjoyed my visit for what it was and had the chance to broaden my culinary sense regarding truffles.


Va Bene has been quite an active player in the LKF dining scene for a while and it is under the management of Gaia group for those interested to know. Since it was a Winter Black Truffles meal, of course all dishes would have truffles!!! For starters, you have a choice of either veal tenderloin carpaccio with dices of vegetables, crispy parmigiano and black winter truffle OR grilled polenta with salty cod mousse, basil flavored olive oil and black winter truffle. Since it was a media luncheon, we got to try both! :)

The veal tenderloin carpaccio itself carried a very subtle flavors just like the winter black truffle. Much of the flavors came from the crispy parmigiano. I tried to eat a few shavings of truffles by itself but again, it was a very subtle flavors to my taste buds. I am not joking but when you close your eyes and silent your mind while tasting the truffle, you do get a different sensation. I think they may want to rethink is the use of the rather strong crispy parmigiano which overpowered the flavors of the truffles if ate together. Then again, up to you how you want to enjoy it. :)


The second starter option was grilled polenta with salty cod mousee, basil flavored olive oil and black winter truffle. The salty cod mousee was full of flavors, I quite enjoyed that but the grilled polenta was rather soft. Perhaps it was that way to match the texture of the cod mousee.


Carnaroli risotto with pumpkin puree, toasted almond and black winter truffle was next. Risotto is quite a tricky item in general and I am quite picky with mine as well. I don't like mine too soft or too hard, like mine to be just firm to the bite without being overly chewy? I like mine with some bites to them. Yeah, quite picky with risotto. The risotto served was quite alright, very close to how I like them. What I like most about this dish was the flavors, the pumpkin puree carried the pumpkin sweetness through the whole thing and together with the subtle savory flavors of the truffles (yes, I do think the truffles have a rather earthy and savory elements to it), not bad at all. I do think if the black truffles are heated somehow, be it by the food underneath or deliberated somehow, the aroma would be way stronger and more noticeable. (perhaps it is an issue with my senses??)


Although I had to bring my nose very close to the fish itself to smell the aroma of the black winter truffle, I did smell it after all. The pan-fried red snapper with potato foam, green zucchini pesto and shavings of black winter truffle was one of the two options for main. Slightly overcooked but it was snapper so not overly obvious in my opinion. Much of the flavors came from the green zucchini pesto while the potato foam balanced out rather richness of pesto.


Second option for the main was the Roasted Quail filled with chicken liver and spinach served with new potatoes, honey sauce and black winter truffle. One of the highlights of this lunch in my opinion! As mentioned, the black truffle exerted greater aroma when being heated and this dish was a great example of such. My sense of smell can finally smell the richer and deeper flavors of the black truffle. Was it the sauce that I was smelling? Not 100% sure but it smelled good together! What I found most delicious was the use of chicken liver as the stuffing. The quail itself was not very strong in flavor but the richness of the chicken liver gave it the game-y flavor needed. If you are not a liver eater, it would be quite a dish indeed but I enjoyed it to the last bite!


Classic zabaglione in cup with shavings of black truffle served with almond crumble cake. At first I wasn't sure what it was but a closer look at the spelling it hit me! It translates to Zabaione or Sabayon. It was quite creative to put something slightly savory on top of a mild sweet desserts but I rather have them separately. But give it a try yourself, you may like it, never know, :)

More facts perhaps for those interested, Executive Chef Paolo Federici is going to offer the above 4-course meal - Il Tartufo nero a tavola - starting from 18-24 January 2011priced at HK$608 per person (serve lunch and dinner).

  • Hands down the Roasted Quail filled with chicken liver and spinach served with new potatoes, honey sauce and black winter truffle - the chicken liver really gave the dish the necessary kick in terms of flavors together with the truffles. 
  • Carnaroli risotto with pumpkin puree, toasted almond and black winter truffle - the texture was good but it all depends on your personal liking to be honest. I like the pumpkin flavor of the puree mixed together.  
  • pan-fried red snapper with potato foam - slightly overcooked if still quite decent 

Avg Spending: Above HKD 500 per person (courtesy of Va Bene on my Media Luncheon visit)

Va Bene (Hong Kong)
17-22 Lan Kwai Fong
Central, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2845 5577

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Suzanne said...

The risotto looks sooo yummyyyy!! And the quail as well!!! *drooling*

EAT ME MIKI! said...

Wow I need to eat that quail.

My most memorable truffle dish was Katsu-Ya's garlic albacore with black truffle, just simply amazing. If you're ever in LA you should definitely hit it up.

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