HONG KONG: Dining at BO INNOVATION (2014 and 2015 Awardee of 3 Michelin Stars)

November 25, 2014


HONG KONG: Dining at BO INNOVATION
(2014 and 2015 Awardee of 3 Michelin Stars) 


To be able to appreciate dining at Bo Innovation, let me give you a brief background on the significance of being awarded 3 Michelin stars, the highest rating to be given to any fine dining restaurant. It's a distinction given to only about a 100 restaurants in the world.

What is the Michelin Guide?
The Michelin Guide is the "international benchmark of fine dining" (Michelin website). Anonymous inspectors dine at these restaurants and evaluate the food based on 5 criteria shown below and then award stars.

Below are more details taken from the Michelin Website

GUIDE TO THE STARS

Stars reflect only WHAT IS ON THE PLATE and are determined solely by five criteria:
1. Quality of the ingredients
2. Flair and skill in preparing ingredients and combining flavors
3. Chef’s personality as revealed through the cuisine
4. Value for money
5. Consistency of culinary standards

The stars are NOT AWARDED on the basis of restaurant d├ęcor, price of the ingredients or quality of service.

What the Stars Mean

Three stars reward exceptional cuisine where diners eat extremely well, often superbly. Distinctive dishes are precisely executed, using superlative ingredients. Worth a special journey.

Two stars denote excellent cuisine, skillfully and carefully crafted dishes of outstanding quality. Worth a detour.

One star indicates a very good restaurant in its category, offering cuisine prepared to a consistently high standard. A good place to stop on your journey.


BACKGROUND OF BO INNOVATION

Bo Innovation is a restaurant known for Extreme Chinese cuisine. Alvin Leung, the owner and chef of Bo Innovation, deconstructs traditional Chinese ingredients and makes radical dishes with it. Hence the name Extreme Chinese Cuisine.

Who is Alvin Leung?

Alvin Leung was born in London and raised in Canada. He's an engineer by training who became a chef.

This statement taken from his website perfectly describes what he does to food served in his restaurant:
Alvin's extreme Chinese cuisine is an art form. He does to Chinese food what Picasso did to art - he breaks down traditional Chinese food to it's bare essence and uses it to create new interpretations in modern form."


MY EXPERIENCE DINING AT BO INNOVATION 

THE PRESENTATION

Prior to serving the dish, they  explain what the dish is and show you the traditional Chinese ingredient they used for it so you can compare it with how they transformed it or how they used it differently in the dish.

THE MENU

My total bill is HK$885:
680 + 70 for water = HK$750 + 75 service charge + 60 tip = HK885


THE FOOD


The bread basket

SCALLOP
with
Shanghainese "Jolo", Woba, Sugar Snap Peas, Avocado, Lemon

Translation:
Jolo Sauce: fermented red rice vinegar

Woba: crispy rice

My review:
I love this dish. The scallop is so tender. 

It's hard to describe how flavorful this dish is.



UMAMI
with
Black Truffle, Toro, Harmi Oil, Vermicelli, Rice Noodle

Translation:
Black truffle: mushroom

Toro: Fatty of part of the fish used for sushi
Harmi oil: oil infused with dried baby shrimps

Special instructions:

Pour the harmi oil over the dish then mix it up.

What traditional Chinese ingredient they showed me after serving the dish: 

dried baby shrimps



MOLECULAR
"Xiao Long Bao"
(The signature dish at Bo Innovation)

Translation:
Xiao Long Bao: soup dumpling

Special Instructions:

The waiter instructed me that the best way to enjoy it was to take the whole thing in my mouth and close my eyes so I can fully appreciate all the flavors when I bite it.

My tip: Be careful when you bite it because all the liquids may burst out of your mouth if you don't do it slowly.


An article taken from the Azure website talks about this dish:

"One of his best-known dishes is the Shalong Boa (little dragon), small dumplings that seem to explode in the mouth. "Traditionally, they would be made of a thick crust filled with chopped pork meat, but I decided to use the same ingredients, solidify the liquids and give it the appearance of an egg yolk", explains Leung. The taste is almost the same as that of the original dish, but the presentation and texture are quite different. "

My review:
I love this dish for it's truly unique texture and concept. 



FOIE GRAS
with
"mui choy", preserved Chinese mustard green, granny smith apple, ginger bread


Translation:
mui choy: preserved Chinese mustard green MADE INTO ICE CREAM that you see on the left of the photo
granny smith apple: the green thing at the left of the photo MADE INTO an ice cream


What traditional Chinese ingredient they showed me after serving the dish: 
mui choi

My review:
I love this dish because the foie gras was perfectly seared. When you cut into it, all the juices ooze out of it. Then if you combine it with the mui choy and granny smith ice cream, the foie gras lightens up and becomes a refreshing meal.






MAO TAI
with
hawthorn, lemon grass, passion fruit

Translation:
Mao tai: Chinese liquor made from fermented sorghum

Special instruction:
You drink it from the long spout of the container shown above.


What traditional Chinese ingredient they showed me after serving the dish: 

Mao tai liquor bottle



LANGOUSTINE
with
black truffle, cauliflower risotto, salty duck egg sauce
pickled cauliflower, English mustard foam, duck jus


Translation:
Langoustine: small lobster




PIGEON
with
shitake mushroom cake, sour plum infused pigeon jus, black carrot


COCONUT
with
palm sugar, coconut water, chocolate, pina colada, cherry, pandan

Where is the:

  • coconut water? It's the round thing on top
  • pandan and chocolate? made into ice cream
  • pina colada? it's the white powdery ice in the background  


THE FILIPINO CHEF OF BO INNOVATION

Alvin Leung is not in town, but I got to meet the Filipino chef who was with Alvin Leung ever since he started Bo Innovation in 2005. His name is Daniel Fabay. 

Daniel Fabay has been living in Hong Kong for the past 20 years. He used to be chef at Silahis hotel in the Philippines before he came to Hong Kong. For the past 9 years, he's a chef at Bo Innovation and has been part of what this restaurant achieved for the past few years. 

Daniel Fabay in the kitchen of Bo Innovation


OUTSIDE THE RESTAURANT




INSIDE THE RESTAURANT


Panoramic shot of the layout of the restaurant








HOW TO FIND THE RESTAURANT


Ride the MTR and get off at Wanchai Exit A3. 

When you exit A3, you arrive at Johnston Road.

Turn right and walk along Johnston Road until you see Ship Street on your left side.



This is the sign you see along Johnston Road directing you to Ship Street

This is Ship Street.

Walk along Ship Street until you see the rectangular gray sign seen above.

The sign

Don't go up the stairs.

Use the private lift beside the sign.

This is the private lift along Ship Street
 that goes directly to Bo Innovation




Email: dine@boinnovation.com

Address: Shop 12, 2F, J Residence, 60 Johnston Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong


BELGIUM: What Belgian Chocolates to Taste in Brussels

November 22, 2014


BELGIUM: What Belgian Chocolates to Taste in Brussels

My brother recently came home from a trip to Brussels. As "pasalubong" he brought home Belgian chocolates to share with us what he experienced and enjoyed during his trip. These are not ordinary Belgian chocolates you see in your local stores. So I'm sharing with you the notable Belgian chocolatier that the tour guide recommended to him. Below I am quoting  his description of each Belgian chocolate he gave us:  


"I gave you three kinds of Belgian chocolates, based on my Brussels trip."

NEUHAUS

(since 1857)

"1) Neuhaus (in red orange box) - According to the guide, Neuhaus is the first one to come up with edible chocolate (because before it was just the cocoa drink). It is the inventor of the PRALINES. So I gave you a box with different kinds of pralines. It is the most commercial of the three boxes, because it is sweeter and has less chocolate percentage. "

Neuhaus Collection Discovery 25 pieces
25 euros


Why buy Neuhaus: To taste the products of the chocolatier who invented the pralines.

Website: 
http://www.neuhaus-online-store.com/chocolate-store-en.htm

Facebook page: 
https://www.facebook.com/neuhaus

Where to find Neuhaus: 
http://www.neuhaus-online-store.com/en/store-locator.htm?cu=euro&or=2853921976



MARY
(since 1919)

"2) Mary (in the white round box) - Mary Delluc is the first female chocolate maker, and the Belgian royal family buys from here. It is known for the TRUFFLES, so I got the truffles. The other two boxes have only one of each kind, but this box has two of each kind."


Assortment of truffles
39 euros

Description of the truffles:



Why buy Mary: To taste the products of the chocolatier who supplies truffles to the Royal House of Belgium

Website: 

Where to find Mary:





PIERRE MARCOLINI

(since 1995)

"3) Pierre Marcolini (in the black box) - For our guide, this is the best chocolate. It has the highest chocolate percentage, so it is more dark and bitter. Marcolini is known as a GOURMET CHOCOLATE maker, and experiments with unique flavors. It came up with the Earl Grey black tea flavor, among others. Therefore, I suggest that this is for the parents only, since I don't think the tastebuds of the kids will be able to appreciate these yet."








Why buy Pierre Marcolini: To taste how chocolate can be infused with different flavors, hence the description of "gourmet" or luxury chocolates.

Website: 

Facebook page: 

Where to find Pierre Marcolini:



MY REVIEW:

I love MARY. I can only describe it as melt-in-your mouth fine chocolate truffles. It is best consumed after it is left to "warm up" in room temperature. Being in a tropical climate like the Philippines, we need to place these fine chocolates inside the refrigerator to prevent it from melting if left in our normal room temperature ranging from 23 to 32 degrees centrigrade.

My children love NEUHAUS. It's easy to love and meets their expectations of what a praline must taste like.

No one in my family liked PIERRE MARCOLINI. It is too "gourmet" for our taste buds and not what we expect of chocolates. But it's nice to be able to taste it, especially the interesting flavors of earl grey infused in the chocolates. However our taste buds are too "amateur" to recognize the different nuances of the unique flavors infused in the chocolates. So we couldn't fully appreciate it.

My BANAUE and SAGADA Itinerary with Kids (Day 6: Sagada to Manila, Side trip to Balete/Dalton Pass)

October 6, 2014

My BANAUE and SAGADA Itinerary with Kids 
(Day 6: Sagada to Manila, Side trip to Balete/Dalton Pass)

DAY 2. SATURDAY
KIANGAN-BATAD-KIANGAN

See the BATAD RICE TERRACES

DAY 3. SUNDAY
KIANGAN - BANAUE - SAGADA

See the Banaue Rice Terraces at the Banaue Viewpoint
Read more of Day 3 of My Banaue and Sagada Itinerary with Kids

DAY 4. MONDAY
SAGADA

Do SPELUNKING AT SUMAGUING CAVE
See the LUMIANG BURIAL CAVE
Read more of Day 4 of My Banaue and Sagada Itinerary with Kids 


DAY 5. TUESDAY
SAGADA

See Echo Valley and Hanging Coffins
Do the Sagada Zipline
Read more of Day 5 of My Banaue and Sagada Itinerary with Kids 


DAY 6. WEDNESDAY
SAGADA - MANILA

See Dalton Pass



OUR ACTUAL ITINERARY FOR THE DAY:

8:20 AM - 8:40 AM:

We left St. Joseph's Resthouse.
We passed by Lemon Pie house to pick up the Lemon Pie we ordered as pasalubong for the people back home.


8:40 AM - 11:50 AM:
 We traveled from Sagada to Lagawe


11:50 AM - 12:30 PM:

Lunch at Gazebo Restaurant, Lagawe 
Check out my post: Gazebo Restaurant in Lagawe: A Great Meal Stop on the way to the Banaue Rice Terraces 






12:30 PM - 2:45 PM:

We traveled from Lagawe to Balete (Dalton) Pass  

2:45 PM - 3:25 PM:

We explored the Balete (Dalton) Pass Tourism Complex
Check out my post: The Road to Banaue: Why Stop and Visit Balete (Dalton) Pass 


Balete (Dalton Pass) View deck


 3:25 PM - 7:00 PM:

We traveled from Balete (Dalton) Pass to North Luzon Expressway

7:00 PM - 8:00 PM:
We had dinner at Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant at Caltex Mega Station at North Luzon Expressway.

9:30 PM:
We arrived home.

THE ROAD TO BANAUE: Why Stop and Visit BALETE (DALTON) PASS

October 5, 2014


THE ROAD TO BANAUE: Why Stop and Visit BALETE (DALTON) PASS


The road from Manila to Banaue or Cagayan Valley will definitely pass Balete (Dalton) Pass. 

Balete Pass is described as "a zigzag road and mountain pass that joins the provinces of Nueva Ecija and Nueva Vizcaya, in Central Luzon, Philippines." (Wikipedia)


You can see the zigzag pass in this panoramic view taken from the viewdeck of the Balete Pass Tourism Complex.



This is the arch that marks the boundary of Nueva Ecija and Nueva Vizcaya 
This is the arch seen from the Balete Pass view deck


See the boundary arch at the left side of the photo
The right side of the arch is Nueva Ecija



See the boundary arch at the right side of the photo.
The left side of the arch is Nueva Vizcaya.

If you happen to pass by Balete (Dalton) Pass like we did during  our Banaue-Sagada trip I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you make a stop at the Balete Pass Tourism Complex. 




WHAT YOU WILL SEE AT THE BALETE (Dalton) PASS COMPLEX:


A VIEW DECK WITH A 180 DEGREE VIEW OF BALETE PASS:

Only by seeing Balete pass from this viewdeck on top of the Caraballo mountain will you be able to appreciate: 
1. the importance of this Pass during the Japanese Occupation in World War II in securing the final defeat and surrender of General Yamashita and his troops and the liberation of the Philippines from Japanese occupation.
  •  Balete pass is the only access to the fertile farmlands of the Cagayan Valley region, which is the source of food supply of General Yamashita's army who fled from Manila after General MacArthur landed in the Philippines.

2. the immensity of lives lost by the 25th Division of Sixth Army of together with the Philippine guerilla and around 47 plus Chinese in this Battle.
  • You can see from the view deck the difficulty of conquering this pass. Anyone who attempts to pass by this road will be shot at. The Japanese are positioned in both sides of the mountain.






THE MARKERS:


This marker shows:
1. those who participated in the Battle of Balete Pass
2. why Balete Pass is called Dalton Pass

This marker shows details on Chinese participation in the Battle of Balete Pass


IF YOU WISH TO READ MORE ON THE EVENTS THE LED TO THE BATTLE OF BALETE (Dalton) PASS, THERE ARE MORE DETAILS BELOW:

The Battle of Balete (Dalton) Pass is part of the Luzon campaign of General Douglas MacArthur, known as the Battle of Luzon, which eventually led to the liberation of the Philippines from Japanese occupation.


TIMELINE LEADING TO THE BATTLE OF LUZON
and the LIBERATION OF THE PHILIPPINES:


1941:
December 8, 1941: 
Japan invades the Philippines, 10 hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor

1944:
June 6, 1944: 
D-Day or Normandy landings

October 5, 1944
General Tomoyuki Yamashita arrives in the Philippines and stayed in Manila

October 20, 1944
General Douglas MacArthur returns to the Philippines and lands in Leyte with the Sixth Army led General Walter Krueger

December 25, 1944: 
Success of Leyte campaign

December-January, 1944
Most of the Japanese army units pulled out of the city.

1945
Early January, 1945: 
General Yamashita flees from Manila to Baguio.

January 6, 1945: 
The Sixth Army with General Krueger sails from Leyte to Lingayen Gulf.

January 9, 1945: 
The Sixth Army with General Krueger lands on Lingayen Gulf

February 1, 1945: 
The Sixth Army left Lingayen for Manila along Highway 5

February 3 - March 3 1945: 
The Battle of Manila
The Battle of Manila Scrapbook

February 21, 1945: 
The 25th Division and the 32nd Division of the Sixth Army began their attacks and heads towards Santa Fe and Balete Pass. 
The 25th Division headed for Highway 5 and the 32nd Division headed for Villa Verde Trail

April 17, 1945: 
Yamashita flees Baguio for Bambang.

May 13, 1945: 
The 25th division seizes Balete pass after two months of intense fighting.

May 20, 1945: 
Yamashita flees Bambang and transfers his command post to Kiangan

May 27, 1945: 
The 25th Division captures Santa Fe town

September 2, 1945:

Yamashita surrenders in Kiangan


WHY IS THE BATTLE OF BALETE PASS SO IMPORTANT?

(Source: page 84 of the book "We Shall Return! MacArthur's Commanders and the Defeat of Japan, 1942-1945 edited by William M. Leary



General Walter Krueger "identified the Cagayan Valley, a rich farmland extending 200 miles from Bambang to Aparri, on the north coast, as the key to Yamashita's defenses. Seizing this valley would deprive the Japanese of vital food supplies and cut communication with enemy forces to the west. Yamashita's destruction would then be inevitable.

"While the 33rd Division contained the Japanese at Baguio and Colonel Volckmann's guerillas harassed the enemy, at Bontoc, the 25th and the 32nd Division launched a converging attack on the Balete Pass and Santa Fe area, south of Bambang and gateway to Cagayan Valley. Plans called for the 25th Division, commanded by Major General Charles L. Mullin, Jr. to drive north on Highway 5 and clear Balete Pass, while the 32nd Division headed by Major General Willam H. Gill, attacked from the west along the Villa Verde Trail toward Santa fem three miles north of Balete Pass."

...

"Pressure on the Villa Verde Trail facilitated the task of the 25th Division, but progress still came slowly along highway 5. The enemy resisted bitterly, and Japanese positions had to be reduced one by one. Short of artillery ammunition, Krueger found that 90-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, for which there was an abundant supply of high-velocity ammunition, had a devastating effect on Japanese strong points, especially in caves. On May 13, after two months of fierce fighting, the division finally broke through Balete Pass. It captured Santa Fe on May 27, then drove westward to link up with the 32nd Division at Imugan.


The strategy of the Allies in seizing Balete pass was two-pronged:


1. Through Highway 5, south of Balete Pass: executed by the 25th Division
2. Through Villa Verde Trail, northwest of Balete Pass: executed by the 32nd Division


  • Villa Verde Trail is a mountain trail in the Caraballo Mountains, starting from Santa Maria Pangasinan until the junction of Santa Fe, Nueva Vizcaya




Sketch of the Villa Verde Trail, drawn by CPT Joseph E. Ash, FA liaison with 2D Bn., 127TH Inf. CPT Ash was a Wisconsin National Guard officer; he was a 1LT in HQ Btry., 2D Bn., 120TH FA Regt. in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, when the 32DDiv. mobilized on 15 Oct. ’40. 




Shows in red the Japanese defense units before Balete pass
Source: http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA-P-Triumph/maps/USA-P-Triumph-XI.jpg


RECOMMENDED BOOKS ON THE BATTLE OF BALETE PASS



United States Army in World War II. The War in the Pacific.
Triumph in the Philippines by Robert Ross Smith

Sold here

Detailed account of the Battle at Balete Pass:
Bambang Front II - The 25th Division on Route 5 
page 512



Front Cover
We Shall Return!: 
MacArthur's Commanders and the Defeat of Japan, 
1942-1945
edited by William M. Leary
Sold here


For the account of the Battle of Luzon and Balete Pass from the point of view of General Walter Krueger:
Read here


RECOMMENDED BOOKS ON THE BATTLE OF LUZON


United States Army in World War II. The War in the Pacific.
Triumph in the Philippines by Robert Ross Smith

Sold here

Detailed account of the Battle at Villa Verde Trail:
Bambang Front I - The Villa Verde Trail 
page 491

Detailed account of the Battle of Balete Pass:
Bambang Front II - The 25th Division on Route 5 
page 512




Reports of General MacArthur
JAPANESE OPERATIONS IN THE
SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA
Volume II - Part II
COMPILED FROM JAPANESE DEMOBILIZATION BUREAUX RECORDS
Sold here

For Japanese point of view and tactics on the Battle of Luzon:
CHAPTER XV
BATTLE ON LUZON
Launching of the American Invasion



Front Cover
We Shall Return!:
MacArthur's Commanders and the Defeat of Japan,
1942-1945
edited by William M. Leary
Sold here


For the account of the Battle of Luzon and Balete Pass from the point of view of General Walter Krueger:
Read here