Sunday, August 7, 2011

Bettys Kitschen (Hong Kong)

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There have been countless reviews and mentions of this new establishment by Alan Yau ever since it opened. Reviews and feedback so far have been mixed, many complained about the food, many raved about the food and its rather rare selection of French recipes. Some emphasized on Chef Largard's skills and creation while many were captivated by the venue and its decor, including staff's 1950's maid-like uniform. For those unfamiliar with Alan Yau, he is the mastermind behind the famous Wagamama, Hakkasan and the recently Michelin starred restaurant Yauatcha in London. Whenever I hear his name in association with any restaurant, the first thing that comes to my mind is exciting culinary marketing initiative followed by trending culinary creativity. Alan is a successful restaurateur as well as a remarkable entrepreneur when it comes to the F&B industry. Take Hakkasan for example, he not only popularizes Chinese cuisine in London but he took Chinese fine dining scene to a next new level. With that taken into consideration, when I step into Bettys Kitschen at IFC (Hong Kong), the thing that got my attention or interest was the overall execution of the whole concept which of course includes service, decor, menu, atmosphere and food. I wanted to see what took Alan so long to open his first restaurant concept in Hong Kong and what sort of dining trends he is going to set with his new venture.


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Stepping into the restaurant where Harlan used to be, I felt like I have transported back in time, back to the 1950s to be exact. Not that I have experienced the 1950s myself but the environment, decor and the maid uniform reminded me of an American sitcom ... I Love Lucy. (yes I like to watch old American sitcoms!) One thing I like to mention is the background music mix which consisted of all sorta of music genre. One minute you hear 1920s Shanghai lounge music and the next would be smooth jazz followed by ... the theme sort of Austin Powers. It was quite confusing so I asked J which handles the PR for Bettys. Apparently, the selection of music was done by Alan Yau himself and the volume of the background was decided by Alan as well, no one is allowed to stop or even change the volume of the music. Only a few know the location of the controls and have access to it. That I call STYLE! (Like to take this opportunity to extend my thanks to J for this wonderful lunch invitation)

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We started off with this Compressed Watermelon Salad prepared using the sous vide method. The texture of the watermelon has been firmed from the process and it was kind of fun eating watermelon using knife and fork. Refreshing yet flavorful from the balsamic vinegar (slightly too strong though) and diced tomatoes.

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Mackerel gravalax with duo potato salad with fried egg, another perfect summer dish. Thinly sliced mackerel with potatoes gave it a very nice combination of texture. If the option of fried egg can be a sunny side up then it would be even better because of the mixture of runny yolk.

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Heirloom tomato salad with burrata and pesto. Depending on the daily supply of heirloom tomatoes, the variations of colors can be different but that did not affect the freshness and sweetness of the tomatoes on my visit. The burrata was one of the highlights as well, it was creamy, soft and ... dreamy! Maybe it was my lucky day because some friends who tried it a few weeks ago had a different experience with the burrata.

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The Blackened Scottish Salmon was cooked perfectly, pink in the center but nothing overly exciting in my opinion.

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Taillevent meat pie is not a common item which one can find around town. Taillevent is the name of a restaurant in Paris founded by André Vrinat and it was opened in 1946 in tribute to Guillaume Tirel who have written the first cuisine book in French named Le Viandier. How this pie is in any relation to the restaurant I am not too sure, yet to confirm, but since the term Taillevent has been commonly used to capitalize on importance of Guillaume Tirel on French cuisine, it can simply mean French style pie? (please enlighten me for those who know ... )

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It was basically a shortcrust pie with a mixture of meats (rabbit meat was one) and foie gras. Eat it while hot together the gravy. Do expect strong meat flavors but meat lovers would not consider that as a problem right? :) A bit more salad would be great with that amount meat.

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Duck Fat Fries. How can I put it nicely? It was addictive, period! Enough said.

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Out of the many desserts on the menu, I picked this Black Forest Gateau because the name reminded me of my childhood favorite cake which can be found in ... almost every bakery! (hello Maxim Bakery!) It just felt weird having such a familiar black forest cake at this sort of establishment. Spongy as it should be in terms of texture and mildly sweets. The big chocolate flakes were so thin that they melt with light touch of my fingers. Very chocolaty and fruity as well with the cherries in between layers.

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So what do I think about the restaurant in general? The food was quite decent, many creative yet rare French recipes. Aside from the food aspect, I think Bettys is the beginning of another round of themed restaurant openings in town. When I say themed, I mean not just the decor and atmosphere but down to the menu as well as the whole dining experience. Many recent openings which claimed to be themed focused mainly on the decor or perhaps the offering of a few signature dishes but lacked in atmosphere, service and creativity. Bettys can perhaps become yet another benchmark for upcoming new establishments because the execution was proper and thoughts have been put into the menu, food and services in order to provide diners with not just a wonderful dining experience but a memorable one.

Likes:

  • Duck Fat Fries - hard not to like them right? 
  • Taillevent meat pies - something hard to find in Hong Kong. Although strong, the combination of the meat flavors did not overpower the foie gras. 
  • Compressed Watermelon - not only for the fun factor but the refreshing aftertaste

Dislikes:

  • Some tables can be tightly arranged and during peak hours can be quite noisy
  • Compressed Watermelon - while refreshing, the balsamic vinegar can be quite overpowering  

Avg Spending: (by invitation but should be around HKD300- 500 per person)

Bettys Kitschen
Shop 2075, Podium Level Two, International Finance Centre Mall,
8 Finance Street, Central
Tel: +852 2979 2100
http://www.bettys.com.hk/


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http://www.jasonbonvivant.com/2011/08/bettys-kitschen-hong-kong.html

5 comments:

Winning Fantasy said...

Hi there, we left a gourmet invitation message before and now we'd like to invite you again:

http://www.eatmugho.com(《食乜好?》搵食網站)

Sorry for any inconvenience。

Minh said...

That photo of the burrata is gorgeous, I love seeing food in natural lighting

Jason said...

@Minh: I specifically requested a table with natural sunlight HAHA .. LOVE x 1000!

Christine Cappio said...

Great post. From what a learnt from Internet is that Taillevent pie, is the name of " parmesan pies" or in French "tourtes parmesiennes" made in Medieval times by Taillevent. (recipes in the Viandier). I am sure if I bring something new.....
If I was to go tomorrow to Besty kitchen I would definitely try thie pie!

Jason said...

@christine: Thanks for the info!! I tried to search online but with no luck in pin pointing the one most possible haha

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