The Principal: Deserving of a 1 Star Rating

There are only certain occasions when I agree with the Hong Kong Michelin Guide‘s rating of a particular restaurant in Hong Kong – you know as well as I do that some of their 1 Star ratings are just preposterous. However I am so happy (and so is my belly) to say that The Principal is completely, entirely 100% deserving of it’s 1 Star rating!

Chef de Cuisine Jonay Armas hails from the Canary Islands and takes a fresh and thought-provoking approach to each of the contemporary European dishes. He applies molecular techniques to some, whilst others are more complex versions of traditional dishes, and each dish appeals to your five sensations of taste: sweetness, sourness, saltiness, bitterness, and umami.  There are three Tasting Menus available, and what is more notable is that one is of them is entirely vegetarian.

We went for the 7 course menu at HK$ 890 with optional wine pairing – some dishes are certainly more impressive than others; PB and I found that with each course that was served, we were more and more excited to be served the next. I would definitely say that this is the best of The Press Room Group‘s restaurants, and we are eagerly anticipating our Sunday Brunch reservation in January 2014 (it gets booked out weeks in advance). If you are looking for a date venue to impress, boys, this is the restaurant to reserve a table at.

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SNACKS: Passion Campari

The server will warn you not to take a bite of this, but to put the whole thing in your mouth. Once you take a bite, a cool, passion fruit Campari-laced liquid bursts out of its waxey container, much to your surprise!

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SNACKS: Mimetic peanut

This peanut buttery imitation of a peanut definitely amuses your bouche. I love how it is served on a bed of crushed peanut shells.

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Sesame Dentelle & Pâté Bonbon

These two were less impressive, but you can never go wrong with a pâté bonbon!

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UNI: Chawanmushi, sea urchin, sake, dates

On The Principal website, chef Armas says, “My aim is to respect the origins of each ingredient, to pay homage to the cooking methods that have come before while introducing my own interpretation.” Well he has certainly done this with the UNI dish – chawanmushi served in a cute sea urchin vessel and topped with uni and a date crumble (of sorts).

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EGG: Free-Range Onsen Egg, Iberico Ham, Parmentier, Chanterelles

I love, love, love onsen egg, and order it whenever I see it (here, here and here). This one did not disappoint, with potato cream and the most delicious fresh petit pois. When was the last time you ate a fresh green pea? I can’t even remember … before this dinner, of course.

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A very souped-up version of Egg and Soldiers

PB lifted up the glass bowl to get the very last bit in the bottom, and all of a sudden, we smelled SMOKE! We didn’t realise immediately where it was coming from and thought that perhaps something was burning in the kitchen, but we then noticed the wood-scented smoke trapped in the hollow space at the bottom of the glass bowl.

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BLUE LOBSTER: butternut, béarnaise, wild rice, tarragon

The wild rice was crispy like a popped rice, which imparted a smokey, burned popcorn flavour.

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COD: Black and white

The white sauce was a cod-juice cream, and I can’t recall what the black was.

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A view from the top

Bulgarian Bessa Valley Wine

Bulgarian Bessa Valley Wine

The wine list atlas at The Principal is impressive both in its size and in its range. We opted for the wine pairing for our meal (HK$400), and found it to be of excellent value and selection. We were served a new glass of wine with each course, and towards the end were making an effort to finish our glasses before the next course.

For our main course selection, we were served this Bulgarian wine, and I was intrigued enough to take a picture. I’ve never tried (let alone heard of!!) Bulgarian wine before, so I decided to do a little research. Apparently, Bulgaria is one of the world’s oldest wine growing regions, but a law voted during the Gorbachev period as a result of anti-alcohol measures called for uprooting the country’s vines. The Enira vineyard is located in the Bessa Valley region, and for those planning a trip to Bulgaria any time soon, a wine tasting there sounds like good fun!

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SUCKLING PIG: Baby endives, lemon purée, cabbage, pomegranate

Whenever I take a Tasting Menu, I always find that the main course lacks the flair and genius that the appetiser courses do. This suckling pig was nice, but not as amazing as what preceded it.

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Saturday “Daytime Bites” at Blue Butcher

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The bar seats, and the picnic table-style seats at the front, are the only ones available for Saturday lunch, and there are no reservations

One fine Saturday, we were  deciding on a place to have a casual and quick lunch before heading over to The Space to check out Green Queen‘s very first Made In HK Local Artisans Pop Up Market.

As The Space is located on Hollywood Road, we decided to check out Blue Butcher; hoping to catch their brunch but then realising that it’s only on Sundays, we opted for their “Daytime Bites” instead. On Saturdays, only the al fresco ground level bar area of the restaurant is open, offering bar stools and a couple of picnic tables as seating, and it’s walk in only. We were lucky to have a table free, and the menu is  short, which whilst limiting (3 choices each of starters, mains and deserts), is quite refreshing in that you’re not overwhelmed with choice. We skipped starters and went straight to mains – quite simply: burger, pork sliders, chicken.

Seeing that I am on round 3 of the Bikini Fit programme, I attempted to at least look like I was trying to follow the nutrition plan, avoided the very tempting pork belly sliders (grrr), and went for the charred French chicken instead, and a Wagyu burger for my mister.

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Starting off with a refreshing Liberty Ale

The Liberty Ale was tasty and not too heavy, served in cute little mason jars.

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The Wagyu Beef Burger, presented nicely on a wooden chopping board with thin fries

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A close up – Wagyu Beef Burger, Tomato Jam, Balsamic Onions, smoked Gouda cheese, truffle aioli – yum! HK$200

The Blue Butcher burger is definitely one of the better ones that I have tasted in Hong Kong! Many burgers claiming to be Wagyu on the menu are unextraordinary, but this one actually has a thick, juicy patty with nice flavour. The additions of tomato jam and balsamic onions add tasty dimensions to the burger without being too overloaded, and the bun was very nice as well.

Free Range Charred French Half Chicken, Baby Carrots, Pearl Onions HK$180

Free Range Charred French Half Chicken, Baby Carrots, Pearl Onions HK$180

I really loved this dish! The French chicken has a flavour that can’t be beat, and (forgetting for a moment that charring is carcinogenic) the charring was just perfect and so tasty. Those baby carrots and pearl onions were the perfect accompaniment for this rustic dish, although the pan did move around a bit on the table. Soak up that jus with a nice piece of bread!

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