Sunday, 1 November 2015

G7 Private Dining - Singapore sling Italian style

After recently finding a taste for Hong Kong's private dining scene, I decided it was again time to sample the uniquely HK approach to dining.

This time, it was to well known Hong Kong Chef Eddy Leung, who's plied his trade at some of the city's most famous 5 Star restaurants, including those at the Swire Hotel, The Ritz-Carlton and the Peninsula Hotel.  More recently, Chef Eddy has been working the private dining scene, with his Aberdeen kitchen called Chef Studio by Eddy.  

But who really wants to head to Aberdeen for dinner?  So, Chef Eddy created a more accessible Private Dining experience in the heart of Central, G7 Private Dining.  Well, much more accessible for this little foodie!  Located on the edge of the Botanic Gardens in Glenealy Street, G7 is a little hard to find at first, and when we did stumble across the front door, we couldn't figure out how to gain entry.  It got to a point where I had to call the restaurant and say we were out front, before the door magically slid open!

With a sheepish grin, our waitress waived us inside and introductions taken, walked us through to our table, which was right in front of a tiny little kitchen.  Inside G7 is like a mix between a traditional restaurant and a home with multiple rooms, all set up for your dining pleasure.  We didn't see Eddy in the kitchen, but one of the chefs came across to explain the tasting menu, which was a bit of a departure for G7, which was normally based on Italian cuisine.  The menu had been created by top Singaporean chef, Tony Khoo and had a decidedly Asian feel, mixed with some Italian highlights.

We were also given the option of a special course, one based around truffles!  Our chef had a container with the most incredible aroma emanating, one that signified the freshest of truffles, so it only took us a second to decide that the extra dish was a must - even though it was an extra HKD$680!

While we waited for the tasting menu to get underway, we were given some warm crispy bread with a side of parmesan cheese & olive oil mix.  The bread was lovely and light, but I found the parmesan slash olive oil mix too strong and preferred the more traditional olive oil and balsamic mix that was already at our table.

I loved the first course, which was called 'Citrus' and consisted of a carpaccio of kingfish with kaffir lime, ginger blossom and arare.  The kingfish was wonderfully fresh and its natural strong flavour was enhanced by the acidic kaffir lime, with subtle notes from the ginger blossom. Texture came from the arare, which is a Japanese cracker and helped give the soft fish a little extra crunch.  There was a little salty hit from some salmon roe as well, and together the ingredients gave a very pleasurable hit to the palate.

Up next was our special truffle dish and it was well worth the extra money.  Slow scrambled eggs made the base of the dish, which was finished off at the table with an incredibly generous helping of shaved truffle.  The beautiful earthiness of the truffle was amazing with the creamy scrambled eggs and there was just enough of both to hold that delicate balance of flavours.  What was better, was the lingering umami flavour on the back of the tongue well after the dish had been devoured.

The next dish was a little out of balance for me.  The caramelised parsnip soup with crispy prosciutto and burnt scallion pesto was far too sweet.  I have to admit that I loved the texture of the velvety soup and the crunch of the prosciutto, but there was no counter balance to the too sweet parsnip soup.  I'm sure the pesto was there to help ratchet down the level of sweetness, but it did little to dent a soup that could almost have been considered a dessert!  Even the little chunks of prosciutto at the bottom of the bowl were sweet, negating what should have been a salty flavour.

There were clear Singaporean influences with the next dish.  Simply called 'Sea', there was one massive crab and prawn ravioli immersed in a Singaporean style sweet chilli crab sauce.  There was a beautiful colour to the dish, a deep red that I'd only previously seen while eating chilli crab during my last trip to Singapore.  It was delicious, firstly, the ravioli was made from al dente pasta and the filling was sweet with a firm texture.  Where the dish really shone was that sweet chilli crab sauce, which provided the full gambit of flavour.  Initially sweet, but as you continued to eat, heat building until you could barely stand it.  Yeah, it was superb!

The 'Sea' theme continued but with a strong Asian influence.  We had razor clams poached in butter, a grilled king prawn, a lovely seared scallop and a piece of sea bass all mixed in with a hot slash sweet Laksa.  There were some things I loved about the dish, the salty prawn and the delicate razor clams, along with that laksa.  But, there were some things that were not quite right, the scallop was a little over cooked for me, as was the sea bass.  Both continued to cook in the hot laksa and as a consequence, were a bit rubbery.  I guess they were impacted by the order in which I ate the meal, with the scallop and sea bass saved for last - maybe, they should have been first!  Anyway, the flavours from the dish were great, but just let down a little with the cooking.

We were incredibly full by the time the 'main' arrived.  I'm not too sure about the name on the menu 'Fungus' is not really an appetising title for a course, but despite it's odd looks and parings, was probably the dish of the night.  This was really two dishes combined, a truffle risotto and a beef short rib.  Both superb, but didn't really work together as a team.  I loved the truffle risotto, which was perfectly cooked and jammed full of tasty truffle.  I also loved the beef short rib, which had a wonderfully rich flavour and was super tender and melt-in-your-mouth.  Two brilliant components that just looked wrong together!  

Dessert was the only real disappointment for me, and was needlessly overcomplicated.  It was really a combination of two desserts also, a traditional tiramisu with pandan and an almond, strawberry and coconut cake with toasted meringue.  The contemporary style tiramisu was mixed into a sphere of white chocolate and sat atop of some sweet potato - yeah, sweet potato!  Seriously, sweet potato has no place in a dessert.  It was OK, as was the cake and toasted meringue, although it was really superfluous to the dish, as was the wine jelly and assortment of berries.  This was definitely a case of 'less is more' and suffered as a consequence.

You normally like to finish your meal with a great dessert, which is often the most memorable part of a meal.  In this instance, the dessert was not up to scratch, but thankfully the remainder of the tasting menu more than made up for the poor ending.  The strong blend of Singaporean flavours worked well with the Italian base and many of the dishes were simply delicious.  I'll never forget that scrambled egg and truffle dish, that is for sure!

I really loved the intimate feel of G7 Private dining, our wait staff were interested in making sure our meal went well and were really friendly.  I also loved that the chef (not Eddy unfortunately) came out to explain the whole tasting menu to us before the meal kicked off, then came out at regular points throughout the meal to deliver some of the courses, it really helped with the intimacy and feeling that Private Dining is where it's at!

I'm now going to go on a little bit of a Private Dining crusade to try to find HK's best private dining room.  Will G7 be up there?  Good question and I'll let you know over the next few months!

We were so full from main, we asked for a break before dessert - we were given some homemade limoncello to tide us over
This was the guy - our chef!  He gave us a heap of truffle!  Great guy!
Private Dining - Just like a fine dining restaurant!
I loved this light and the pressed copper ceiling

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