Starting a new chapter

Knives and spoons have different functions, but are always placed on the same side of a table setting – a metaphor which works for the partnership of young Hong Kong chefs Ray Choi and Devon Hou, heads of the recently returned Cobo House.

Describing themselves as yin and yang, the chefs’ personalities and cooking styles contrast yet complement each other – contributing to the creativity of each dish.

Every bite of Knife & Spoon’s unspoken menu concept aims to surprise. Available as either six (HK$1,180) or eight courses (HK$1,480), the menu is divided into nine chapters, with a new chapter every six weeks. Each highlights a key ingredient.

Kicking off the concept is Chapter Zero, which reinvents the most inspirational dishes from the duo’s past mentors.

My six-course menu experience began even before the appetizer: bread paired with homemade black truffle butter, presented on a weighty marble plate. The chefs recommended using ceramic knives they made themselves for the butter.

The sea bream appetizer was packed with flavors and is a personal favorite of Choi’s from his time at Arbor.

“The fresh flavors of sea bream and the subtle long aftertaste of kombu and sake is a match made in heaven,” he said.

Marinated for two days, the fish is showered in a gazpacho consomme of fermented Spanish tomatoes, created by Hou.

I couldn’t get enough of the next course, a kombu foie gras terrine. Blood orange sauce is artistically dripped on the black plate to encircle the foie gras. The sweet and sour taste of the sauce made for a perfect companion for the foie gras.

Hou picked Japanese Hokkaido Akkeshi oysters as the highlight of the main course for their natural sweetness and lightness in taste. Caviar and salmon roe enrich the briny flavors.

“The experience is powerful yet short,” said Hou, who recommends the dish be consumed in one bite.

Missing carbs? This is remedied by the homemade raviolo wrapping a Spanish red prawn with sakura ebi-basil oil on top.

But the best was yet to come: surf and turf. The A4 beef tenderloin with Schwarzbier-infused sauce is also artistically presented, the bitter hops adding another layer to the meat.

Before I concluded the chapter, a palate cleanser of a one-bite pre-dessert of diced bitter melon was served. The vegetable comes delicately served on a ceramic spoon, making up the other half of the chef-made cutlery kit.

And finally, the sweet ending. Yamanashi white peach paired with shiso ice cream and rice puff. The dessert also comes with a relaxing jasmine tea-infused sauce with diced peach.

Chapter Zero is available until October 4, after which Chapter One will feature eggs to continue the surprise.

(This article was published at The Standard on September 4, 2020: Weekend Glitz: Starting a new chapter )

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