YIN-YANG: TALE OF CULINARY ART
The interior design combines modern contemporary style with an industrial and rustic vibe ― the grey tone theme of concrete and bamboo chandeliers coexist in perfect harmony.
Tassels, bold prints, and flowy maxi dresses, they all speak for Bohemian. In fact, Bohemian not only refers to the fashion style of “boho- chic”, but also represents an artistic literacy; it is a synonym for freedom, breakthrough and innovation.
When reflecting on a Bohemian lifestyle, whilst combining culture and art with gastronomy, we wonder what unique dining experience a restaurant can bring to its guests. COBO HOUSE, recently relaunched at K11 Musea, reinforces an unconventional concept of dining experience and brings a new taste of culinary artistry, as implied by its name (“COBO” refers to a Bohemian lifestyle).
To unveil the mystery, I interviewed the two Executive Head Chefs – Chef Ray Choi & Chef Devon Hou from COBO HOUSE this afternoon whereas they introduced the new unspoken menu – The Knife & Spoon.
Once I set foot into the restaurant, I almost felt like I was entering an art gallery. With various artist works scattered in every corner, including “Girl” by contemporary Chinese artist Zhang Enli and “Untitled (parabolic lens)” by Fred Eversley from America using the material of cast plastic, a cultural-art lifestyle is brought into the restaurant.
Facing the floor to ceiling glass window view, I overlooked the spectacular Victoria Harbour view. While waiting for the Chefs, I wandered around the restaurant. The interior design combines modern contemporary style with an industrial and rustic vibe – the grey tone theme of concrete, green plants and bamboo chandeliers coexist in perfect harmony.
As I looked for the menu, I discovered a cubic dice on the table. Turned out you can see the menu of the day by scanning the imprinted QR code on it, making the secret menu even more mysterious.
What’s fascinating about The Knife & Spoon unspoken menu is that each chapter focuses on one single ingredient as the star of the story. Among the option of six- course and eight-course tasting menu, only three courses will be disclosed, presenting mouth-watering surprises that are scheduled to change every 6 weeks. All these meticulous details lured me into meeting the Chefs in person and learning the unique stories behind each chapter.
“From crossing paths to finding your way back to working together again, how do you feel about becoming the “DUO” Executive Head Chefs at COBO HOUSE?” I asked Ray.
Once I set foot into the restaurant, I almost felt like I was entering an art gallery. With various artist works scattered in every corner, including “Girl” by contemporary Chinese artist Zhang Enli.
“We have known each other for more than 10 years now, our history allows us to communicate with ease and we are also very compatible. When working together again, we clicked immediately. Devon is a very easy-going person, I can discuss everything with her, so we get along very well,” Ray explained. On the other hand, joining COBO HOUSE was Devon’s “big project” after returning from the UK. As they embark on this new journey, Devon looked forward to reaching a new milestone in joint hands with Ray.
Both Devon and Ray are experienced Chefs who have worked in restaurants with different backgrounds in the past. Ray has worked at The Hong Kong Jockey Club Derby Kitchen, as well as Michelin-starred restaurants Mandarin Grill + Bar and L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon. While Devon has worked at Test Kitchen, L’Atelier de Joel̈ Robuchon, Café Gray Deluxe in The Upper House and the Michelin-starred restaurant in London’s The Goring Hotel. These valuable experiences have equipped them with a vast range of quintessential culinary skills.
“Using one ingredient to describe each other, what would it be?” I asked.
“Ray is a very hardworking person, with a strong sense of responsibility, which fits his Taurus character. He also has a cow tattoo and enjoy eating beef….” Devon explained, “I immediately think of cow.” Whilst Ray described Devon as an egg, “eggs seem unremarkable at first sight, yet their versatile nature enables them to be transformed into a wide variety of dishes; just like Devon being a creative and diverse person.”
Personally, I think both Ray and Devon share an extraordinary creativity and imagination. Revealing three courses from The Knife & Spoon: Chapter One; the appetiser is bold and innovative, pairing Century egg with the fresh sweetness of Japanese crabmeat and fermented cherry tomatoes to balance the dish, the full course is finished with a specially prepared cold-brew ‘Moon White’ (a white tea). With their flare of imagination to reinvent these ingredients, a new taste of artistry culinary and dining concept is created.
Upholding the continuous re-usable principle in environmental concept, the fermented cherry tomatoes prepared were fully utilised: the meat was used in the appetiser from Chapter One; while the juice was used in that of Chapter Zero, demonstrating a meticulous attention to detail.
Sampling the appetiser from Chapter Zero, I was delighted to see Ray featuring the sea bream that is marinated in kombu and sake for uplifting the freshness. The dish is paired with gazpacho consommé, finger lime, pickled ginger, and finally topped with fermented Spanish tomatoes sauce.
Pink and tender like cherry blossoms, with a hint of subtle green, the Sea bream blossoms in simplicity and elegance, like an abstract art painting. Sure enough, the dish tastes as refreshing as it looks on the plate – light, gentle and delicate; with the sauce adding a punch of unique sweetness and sourness, awakening the palate and giving you a refreshing and appetising taste as you take a further bite.
Chapter Zero: Sea bream
The “DUO” Executive Head Chefs at COBO HOUSE, Ray Choi and Devon Hou, have known each other for more than 10 years, hence they are very compatible.
“The main course of Chapter One is the marinated soy sauce duck egg yolk with Aka Awabi (Abalone) from Japan and risotto. It was inspired by a time when Devon ate at a Chinese restaurant, the Chef first put the abalone on the plate, then poured the abalone juice into the rice and mixed well. It resembled her of risotto and created this dish.” Ray explained.
The dessert of Chapter One is another scrumptious surprise. Since Ray has always been a huge fan of the variety of teas, he designed a tea flavoured, egg-shaped dessert as the last dish of this chapter. This egg-white mousse is infused in Tie Guanyin tea flavour, glazed with a caramelized chocolate topping; citrus is used to resemble liquid egg yolk. It is then sprinkled in homemade tea powder, as if wrapped, protected and nurtured the egg in soil.
The uniqueness of this dessert comes from the duck eggwhite. Instead of using the usual chicken eggwhite, the Chefs took the egg-white that was left from making soy sauced egg on the previous course to make the most of all ingredients. Leave the guests to discover their own wonders in the remaining dishes from this artistry culinary journey.
After the interview, I had the opportunity to sample four courses from The Knife & Spoon: Chapter Zero. Through a combination of various flavours, whether it is Japanese, Chinese or Spanish, the Chefs reinvented the ingredients in various ways to unveil more possibilities for food, which also inspired me to view my life and work from a different perspective.
Chapter One: Sunny Side Up / Chapter One: Tie Guanyin tea flavoured egg-white mousse
Chapter One: Marinated soy sauce duck egg yolk with Aka Awabi (Abalone) from Japan and risotto
Shop 602, 6/F, K11 MUSEA, Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
+852 2656 3088