My first child is due in a week or so. All my friends who have successfully procreated wax lyrical about the unbridled emotion and incomparable joy of new fatherhood. “You can’t imagine how incredible it is,” they proclaim. “It’s unlike anything you’ll every experience,” they soppily disclose, as wayward tears fall into their Asahi.
Obviously, none of them have eaten at Frantzen’s Kitchen.
By some margin, Frantzen’s is the finest meal I’ve had in Hong Kong. The titillating perfection damn near brought a tear to this contemptuous critic’s eye.
The dishes are complex in flavour but elegant in construction. Over bloody good gin and tonics (so good were the Hernö G&Ts we felt no need to move on from them throughout the evening) we dissected the annotated illustrations of each Nordic delight on the menu.
The menu is split into ‘snacks’ (these are essentially amuse bouche with a hefty price tag), ‘to begin’ (starters) and ‘to be continued’ (you guessed it, mains). In true countdown style, we were advised to have two from the top, one from the middle and one big one.
My first snack, the Sweedish Sushi was simply angelic. I popped it whole in my mouth and my head began to swim. Frozen liver delivered a velvety smoothness, which melted into the dry spongy white moss. A rich slither of roe deer lay akimbo, loosely fixed by earthy cep mayonnaise. Despite being $80 for a single mouthful, the dish was worth every penny.
In a departure from the robust black truffle that typically adorns the signature dish of French Toast, we were served Italian summer truffles. These melt-in-the-mouth slithers of light, white leaf were infinitely superior, beautifully matching the 25year old balsamic vinegar and not overpowering the lightly burnt bread.
The 63.4°c cooked oyster was very much enjoyed by a 38.2 week pregnant Mrs. A and the Chawanmushi (an unlikely orgy of cauliflower, herring, caviar, fermented mushroom juice and thyme) drew equally rave reviews.
In a restaurant scene increasingly drawn to fuss and whimsy, Frantzen’s décor is sleek and sophisticated and draws a sleek and sophisticated crowd. Our own sleek and sophisticated foursome sat around the bar-cum-kitchen, basking in the glow of a small grill that lightly blew the heavenly aroma of truffle.
All around us emasculated Vikings went about their business with a slight air of arrogance and a great deal of expertise. What proficiency these men – and they are all men – lack in raping and pillaging, they more than make up for with an unnatural capability in infusing, foaming and curing.
These skills are no more evident than with my velouté starter. Almond milk swam with onion puree and was quietly punctuated by a light liquorish cream. This elegant soup was essentially a bowl of lacy liquid love. In appropriate fashion the whole lot glided down my throat faster than you could say loose-lipped Linda Lovelace.
My steamed turbot main lasted just as long. Woody pine shoots and fragrent peas, asparagus and herbs provided an elegant chorus that allowed the robust fish to sing. Once again, the pork belly, cod and lamb dishes left my fellow diners with a smirk as wide as my own.
Of course, no one should be surprised that the first international outpost of one of Europe’s top chefs is very good. However, the extent to which Björn Frantzén wipes the floor with Messrs’ Ekkebus, Robuchon and Ducasse is somewhat surprising.
I rounded of my meal with the tyme icecream, tomato marmalade and meringue. The sweet taste left by raw bee pollen was the perfect end to the evening.
Frantzen’s Kitchen is why we eat out. Completely original, refreshingly authentic and, above all, immensely enjoyable. My child has a lot to live up to.
How much? About $1,000 a head
Where? 11 Upper Station St, Sheung Wan
Who goes? Sleek and sophisticated people