Sunday, 21 February 2016

Blue Brick Bistro by Yoku Moku - the cheapest four course meal ever?

I've been watching with great interest the development called The Avenue, in Wan Chai.  There's a couple of reasons for this, firstly, the spot looks great with shops and restaurants, it seems to be the perfect blend of east meets west in the area.  Secondly, we're about to move away from our Mid Levels location and The Avenue is one of the three or four spots we're really keen on.

We'd arranged to meet a real estate agent to look through a couple of properties in Wan Chai and as it turned out, we had about ninety minutes spare that we needed to fill.  Contemplating heading to Causeway Bay and hitting our default restaurant, Din Tai Fung (see post here), we paused by a newly opened restaurant in The Avenue.  In fact, we did more than pause, we looked over the menu and decided that the Blue Brick Bistro by Yoku Moku was to be our lunch destination.

Yoku Moku is a well known and acclaimed Japanese patisserie, who has followed the steps of many a brand by creating a cross over concept.  The Avenue was selected as the first location for a Blue Brick Bistro outside of Japan and the funky bistro sits above the more well known Yoku Moku patisserie, which is on street level.

Our first step to dining at Blue Brick Bistro was to get past the concierge at the base of the stairs that led up to the dining room.  We had to chuckle to ourselves when we were asked if we'd had a reservation and made to wait while the concierge checked up stairs to see if there was a table available. It reminded me of being in my twenties and trying to get into an exclusive night club - hopefully we were dressed appropriately!  We further laughed when we were finally granted access and found ourselves in a mostly empty dining room....

We were seated at a table and given a fixed four course menu, which was the only option available for lunch.  It was actually the set menu that had been the deciding factor in checking out the Blue Brick Bistro, with an insane price of HKD$118.  I was actually just wanting to see what a four course menu that cost about USD$15 would look like, and to be honest, I didn't have very high expectations.

The appetiser was a smoked salmon with red radish salad and honey mustard dressing, which was served in a small bowl and actually looked pretty good.  The honey mustard was smeared around the lip of the bowl, in an attempt at a modern look, and the smoked salmon was rolled to look similar to a rose petal.  The salmon was very lightly smoked, so it retained a nice level of freshness and flavour, but was a little difficult to eat as we were only given a fork and no knife for the first course!  The salad was very basic and flavoured with a balsamic vinegar, which was a little at odds with the honey mustard.

Second corse was the soup of the day, which for our visit was a potato and leek veloute.  Served in a large tea cup, the veloute was delivered so hot that it was a little difficult to eat, and those sips that we were able to tolerate, the was no flavour.  Thankfully though, once the soup cooled, the flavour of the potato and leek shone through and it actually ended up being quite tasty and well seasoned.  There was a drizzle of olive oil in the veloute that probably had no real benefit apart from it's visual appeal. While the soup was nice, a quenelle of whipped sour cream might have been nice, and if it was straight out of the cooler, may have helped cool the very hot soup a little faster.

There were five choices available for main, including a pasta with clam and a house roast of the day.  While they all looked quite interesting, we both had a clear favourite each.

The girl's main was the risotto with pumpkin, parmesan shaving and a crumble of hazelnuts on the side.  The risotto looked beautiful, the rich orange yellow of the pumpkin making for a very visually appealing dish.  It was pretty well cooked, although initially the rice seemed a little under cooked, as the dish matured while eating, the rice became more al dente.  I'd have thought it needed to rest for a while longer before being served.  Flavour wise, the pumpkin was clear and sweet, and the hazelnuts added a nice crunch.

My choice of confit sea bass with sesame, sautéed asparagus spears and a miso foam came at with a supplement of HKD$15, which seemed quite reasonable for the dish that was presented. The sea bass was expertly cooked and while the dish looked a little retro in it's presentation, was still visually appealing.  I'd have preferred the fish skin up, but the way it was presented allowed for the sesame seeds to contrast nicely on the pale flesh of the fish.  I found the miso foam to be an interesting flavour initially, which grew on me as I completed the dish, but was a little out of balance.  Not only was there too much foam for the fish, the miso flavour was just a little strong.  

We were given a couple of wrapped Yoku Moku 'Cigare', which we initially though were the advertised dessert.  Now, for such a value packed meal, I kind of didn't expect much more than the light pastries, but they were really just a pre dessert treat (and I guess there to remind us of the link to the patisserie downstairs).

Dessert was actually a red bean and coffee ice cream, which was not that pleasant to eat.  I have to admit to not being a fan of red bean, my western palate just get around the flavour, which is just too overpowering for me.  The ice cream felt a little pasty, which I attributed to the red bean spread throughout.  I had a crack at eating around the red bean bits, but it became too difficult, so I ended up not eating much at all.

It would be unfair to be critical in any way about our meal at the Blue Brick Bistro, mostly because of the incredible value of the meal.  I still cannot believe they packed all of those courses together for what amounted to less than twenty bucks Aussie.  There were some elements that could be improved, but for sheer value for a western meal, the place cannot be beat.

I loved the modern fit out of the bistro, which was light and airy with a very inviting feel to it.  The wait staff were friendly and there seemed to be way too many floating about for the handful of people dining there for lunch.  I guess they were expecting to get quite busy?!

If we do decide to move into The Avenue, then I'd imagine that I'd dine at the Blue Brick Bistro quite often, especially of the dinner options were as cheap and as (relatively) good quality as the lunch.  With all of the super expensive meals that FoodMeUpScotty and EssAndSee partake in, there is definitely room for an inexpensive and tasty restaurant such as the Yoku Moku run Blue Brick Bistro!

The incredibly well priced four course tasting menu from Blue Brick Bistro

The very funky interior of Blue Brick Bistro

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