Locofama – tasty organic bites

Jumping on the organic bandwagon is Locofama, a relatively new organic restaurant that opened last year opposite Grassroots Pantry in 2013, creating a lovely healthy cul-de-sac in the laid-back Sai Ying Pun neighbourhood.

After a couple of nights of drinking and eating rather unhealthily, Locofama was just perfect to put me back on the straight and narrow. It’s a small, unpretentious and down-to-earth restaurant that is great for a quiet dinner with friends, or a relaxing and healthy weekend brunch. Order a vitamin-enriched fresh juice – I had the ABC Immune Booster with apple, beetroot and carrot. Or if drinking green is your thing, the Kale Detoxifier is mixed with apple, carrot, celery, ginger and parsley to make it taste and look slightly less grass-like.

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Here, the all of the food is just as they advertise it, “healthy, affordable, and delicious”.  The menu is packed with great tasting options, most of which are so tempting that you’ll want to order a bunch of stuff and share it all. The girls and I were in the mood for a light meal, and so we didn’t order the 48 Hours Short Rib that was recommended by the waiter, but it’s on the list for my next visit.  We really enjoyed everything we ordered, especially the Scallop & Quinoa Ceviche, and Spicy Spinach Quesadilla.

If you want to take a little bit of Locofama home with you, the Locofama Market Place next door sells all sorts of organic goodies, great for stocking up the healthy section of your pantry.

The menu does a good job of listing everything that is involved in the making of each dish, so you don’t get any surprises, and for those who are relatively new to eating healthy, it helps you to identify some of the items you may not recognise (chia seeds, nutritional yeast).

 

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Diver Scallops, mixed quinoa, shallots, garlic, lime, cilantro, Anaheim chili pepper, corn tortilla chips HK$118

Spinach, Mozzarella, Anaheim chili pepper, garlic sesame cream, flour tortilla HK$88

Spinach, mozzarella, Anaheim chili pepper, garlic sesame cream, flour tortilla HK$88

Black Truffle Crab Dip: wild caught crab, black truffle, garlic cream, crostini HK$128

Black Truffle Crab Dip: wild caught crab, black truffle, garlic cream, crostini HK$128

Superfood Duo salad: Tricolour quinoa, chia seeds, arugula, avocado, shallot, sundried tomato, basil, chive oil, cucumber, feta, lemon, cherry tomatoes HK$118

Superfood Duo salad: Tricolour quinoa, chia seeds, arugula, avocado, shallot, sundried tomato, basil, chive oil, cucumber, feta, lemon, cherry tomatoes HK$118

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NUR-ly Perfect Gastronomy at NUR

There are a number of new restaurant openings in April, succinctly illustrated in Lifestyle Asia’s 10 New Restaurants to Visit this April. which I have been using as a guideline.  Dinner at Cocotte a couple of weeks ago was an enjoyable affair with well-executed French brasserie dishes, and I have a reservation at Mott 32 next week, but it was last night’s dinner at NUR that had me rushing to the keyboard with blogging fever.

Not in a while has Hong Kong seen a restaurant opening as refreshing as this one. NUR has all the elements of modernist fine dining that I love, but without all the fussiness.  Innovative cuisine, beautiful plating (I just love the use of edible flowers), thoughtful choices on the source of ingredients and a perfectly cohesive flow of tasting courses, without having to dress up, keep your back straight and talk in hushed voices.

NUR’s dining room is well-spaced out, almost too much so – they could easily fit another table in the dining room for all the eager diners waiting to get a reservation. Or maybe it’s because I’m so used to tables being packed together in small spaces in Hong Kong restaurants that I find all that space slightly unsettling – speaking like a true Hong Konger!

The Private Terrace table (smoking area)

The Private Terrace table (smoking area)

There is a non-smoking terrace overlooking the Wellington/Lyndhurst junction, and one intimate table for four on the smoking terrace – whether or not you smoke is your choice, but you may have other guests coming out for a cheeky one. It’s a beautiful space, apart from the exhaust fans whirring overhead, which you kind of just get used to after a while. There, you are surrounded by NUR’s private garden, complete with interesting plant specimens to look at while you’re waiting for your next course. It demonstrates a physical translation of the main vision of the restaurant as well – nourishing cuisine, responsibly and locally-sourced whilst lessening the carbon footprint as much as possible.

There are two choices of tasting menus, “Light” with six courses at HK$788, and “Feast” with three extra courses at HK$988. We went all out, bien sur, the reason being the tomato course which has received rave reviews but is not included on the Light menu.

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From right: Beetroot crisp with watercress emulsion, Carrots with cumin yoghurt and carrot powder, Nasi pear and cucumber with jasmine kombucha

We started with some amuse-bouches –  the beetroot taco wasn’t crisp any more when it came to the table and collapsed upon touching it, but the watercress emulsion was smooth and tasty. The carrots were wonderfully glazed, and the pear and cucumber morsels were very refreshing and light, with a healthy shot of jasmine kombucha.

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Gillardeau Oyster, cucumber, wasabi

The oyster was served raw and cool with a warm cucumber and wasabi foam, which we spooned out of the shell eagerly.

Believe it or not, I forgot to take a photo of the tomato course! I guess I was too excited to eat it. The main element of the dish is heirloom tomatoes from the Zen organic farm in Fan Ling – they were quite simply, fabulous. It has inspired us to make a trip out to the farm next weekend, which I will blog, naturally. A clear tomato broth was poured over the tomatoes at the table, warm and infused with tomato flavour, and 100% lives up to the hype.

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Irish organic salmon, beetroot, smoked buttermilk, dill

The salmon, which appeared to be cooked sous vide, literally melted in mouth. The beetroot had been marinated to create a sweet and sour element to the dish which went well with the creamy smoked buttermilk, herby dill sauce and crunchy popped grains.

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This dish is reminiscent of Michel Bras’ famous dish called gargouillou, hailed by some to the best vegetarian dish on earth. The 4 page recipe is certainly the most complicated one that you will ever find for a salad!

The NUR version is most certainly not as complicated, but combines the basic elements of serving raw and cooked vegetables, a tasty sauce and flowers to create a complex a salad that is not only healthy but also beautiful.  For an additional cuteness factor, you are given chopsticks to eat this course.

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Cocotte – French Brasserie with a New York Vibe

One of the many fabulous things about the French language (the study of which eludes me daily, no matter how much I talk about picking it up again), is that there are so many words that have various different meanings, and some of the slang is just downright funny.  ‘Cocotte’ is one of those new ones that I just learned when I went to this fabulous new French brasserie earlier this week.

cocotte
kɒˈkɒt/
noun
         1. a small heatproof dish in which individual portions of food can be cooked and served.
         2. a fashionable prostitute.

Love it! I suppose the same thing exists in English where a word can be in one way defined as something to do with food, and yet have another completely different meaning (crumpet for example, or waffle), but it just sounds so much better in French!

Fabulous wallpapers

Fabulous wallpapers

The Bar

The Bar

Cocotte is a new chic French eatery that has opened on my favourite ladder street. It’s located just outside the periphery of the main crowds on Hollywood/Staunton, next to the Cabane a Vin wine cellar and just up from Kushiyaki Beco and On Lot 10.

Opened and run by the Moldovan brothers, who hail from Paris but have a love for all things New York, the decor oozes chic-ness. One of the owners is a friend, and it is so interesting to see his personality directly translated into the look and feel of the restaurant. I love the use of luxurious wallpaper, the moss green velvet banquette, the red white and blue mis-matched chairs, the retro lighting, even the dark purples walls in the bathroom.

And now to the food …

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Caprese Salad “Cocotte Style” – Burattina , heirloom tomato, basil, strawberry, aged balsamic HK$168

The burrata burst onto the plate upon the slightest touch, and the pairing with strawberries was unusual yet tasty.

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Steak Tartare – roquefort, “truffle egg yolk”, roquette salad HK$168 (or HK$228 as a main)

This dish is a thoughtful one – the beef tartare comes with roquefort, which you can choose to mix in or leave on the side (thankfully, for us blue cheese haters). The tartare sauce is served in a separate jar,  which I thought was very considerate to the diner – one can choose to add as much or as little of it as they’d like.

Foie

Foie Gras Royale – wood-smoked duck ham, rhubarb, raspberry, pistachio HK$168

The foie gras is served with smoked duck, raspberries and a sort of cookie crumb. It is not served with any toast or bread (perhaps you’re expected to eat it sans pain), but you can ask for it on the side.

Believe it or not, I forgot to take a picture of the ‘Langoustine, Barely Touched’. As the name suggests, the langoustine is just ever so slightly seared, very fresh and light. It is clearly one of their more popular dishes, and when we were told that the kitchen only had 3 servings left, we took them all.

Veal

Milk-fed Veal Flatiron – prepared like blanquette, chanterelle mushrooms, heirloom carrots, parsnip HK$ 328

The veal melted in the mouth; moist, with a very subtle taste, and it was perfectly cooked.

Fish

Royal Sea Bream – prawn, corn and brown butter bisque HK$ 328

The fish was very well executed, with a lovely creamy potato puree. Stacked on top were vegetables and crisp shrimp, resting on a rich lightly foamed bisque.

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