COBO HOUSE Hong Kong – Exciting Savoury Menu by Chef Janice Wong
[HONG KONG] Shek Tong Tsui is a unique neighbourhood with a mix of old and new. As one of the earliest developed district for Chinese people in Hong Kong, you still get to see a lot of traditional neighbourhood corner shops while new and interesting cafes and restaurants evolved. One of them is COBO HOUSE by 2am:dessertbar, a collaboration with Asia’s Best Pastry Chef Janice Wong.
I am sure she is not a stranger to many Singaporeans. Janice founded 2am:dessertbar at Holland Village, Singapore in 2007 and shot to fame in 2013 and 2014, when she was named “Asia’s Best Pastry Chef” by Asia’s 50 Best Restaurant sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna for two consecutive years.
I only knew Janice through her outstanding dessert but actually, she is also a seasoned chef in savoury cooking. She has learnt from Grant Achatz’s kitchen at Alinea in Chicago and even cooked dinner for Singapore’s Ambassador to France residency, hosting French residents including Pierre Hermé, Dominique Loiseau and Frédéric Bau.
With a strong knowledge on ingredients and pairings, it seems like a natural progression for her to partake in different culinary concepts. Besides serving a stellar list of desserts, COBO House is the first in the world to serve Janice’s savoury dishes to the public. Housed in a comprehensive set of lunch, dinner and à la carte menu, the dishes always has a balance of flavours and aesthetics.
Big thank you to the invitation from Hong Kong Tourism Board, I was one of the first to enjoy Janice’s dinner menu. Its Mushroom Garden (HK$168) is an earthy representation of everything from beneath the ground, with 99% chocolate shaved on top. Janice has amazingly the nutty flavours of mushroom truffled puree, shimeiji and wood ear mushrooms, roasted parsnip, coffee soil, fried purple and orange sweet potato chips with a hint of bitterness from the chocolate shavings. It is served with an option of Pan fried Foie Gras (additional HK$100).
Korean drama fans can try their Kimchi Fried Chicken (HK$88) with four pieces of deep fried chicken topped with wasabi sauce and kimchi sauce, making for a slightly spicy dish that is perfect to go with cocktails. I like it that the wasabi is not overpowering, so you still get that sweet and spicy kimchi flavours with crispy skin.
Talking about international influence, the delicate Scallop Somen noodles (HK$278) is a Japanese-inspired dish. The Ito no Ibo somen is paired with scallop that’s cured in soy sauce then being dehydrated and lastly, deep fried in lobster oil. As the lightest and most refreshing noodles, it totally absorbs the crustacean flavours and the umami element is further accentuated by the ebi and ikura added on the top. Pair the somen with a glass of Lemelson Vineyards Reserve Chardonnay 2009.
Mantis Prawn (HKT$288) is a local ingredient that Janice has fond memories of. The mantis prawn is butter poached and paired with parmesan risotto with chorizo. The crustacean is tender, and the dish is umami-packed.
The most memorable dish for me is Earth (HK$448). This Australian wagyu is slow cooked and accompanied by carrots sous vide in beet and miso cured and charred potatoes. Garnished with mushroom paper with Janice’s favorite poem by Henry David Thoreau.
Exclusively for Hong Kong, Gai Daan Zai (HK$118) is a dessert Janice designed exclusively available at COBO HOUSE. Fresh hot egg waffle is enlivened with praline popping candy, and served with salted egg yolk and brown butter ice cream. It is a play on hot and cold, sweet and salty. I appreciate that they make their own egg waffle but sadly, I thought the brown butter stout ice cream came a little too strong that it covered the fragrance of egg waffle.
On the other hand, I love Janice’s Shades of Green (HK$135) which is inspired by our local South East Asia Peranakan breakfast delight of Kaya Toast and Kuih Bangkit. I have tried it before in 2am:dessertbar and it feels good to relish the memories in Hong Kong. With a welcoming shades of green, this dessert features a home-made Kaya flavoured ice-cream with lightly flavoured pistachio sponge and coconut chips which truly brings out the essence of our Peranakan flavours.
A signature of 2am:dessertbar, Chocolate H20 (HK$145) is inspired by the beauty of dead corals at the San Sebastian coast. The dessert features an aerated frozen chocolate with water mousse sprayed in grey to give the look of dead corals. It is sat over a heap of chocolate soil and currently served with Kochi Yuzu Sorbet to give it a light and refreshing balance.
Inspired by the Japanese Cherry Blossom, Cassis Plum (HK$158) had the sphere made by aerated Blackcurrant and white chocolate filled with Elderflower Choya Shiso Foam, and sits on a bed of Choya Shiso Granita with Kochi Yuzu Pearls and Blackcurrant Pastel forming a balance of sourness and sweet finish. It’s quite a good match for cassis and plum.
Janice’s huge and chunky Churros (HK$92/8 pcs) are crispy on the outside but soft in the inside. To elevate the experience, dip the churros into Janice’s signature Hot Chocolate (HK$98) – made with 75% Tanzanie chocolate, it carries a sophisticated floral and cocoa note.
Also new to the house is Janice Wong’s Chocolate Bonbons (Dine In: $20/piece, Gift Box: $118/5 pieces) – all hand painted, artfully made and vividly coloured, her expertise means every piece is a masterclass in indulgence. Eight flavours include Yuzu, Salted Caramel, White Truffle, Whisky Orange, Pistachio Cardamom, Praline Poprocks and Lemon Thyme, with Salted Egg being the Hong Kong special that’s exclusively available at COBO HOUSE.
The 3,000 sq ft restaurant comes with a rooftop herb garden with herbs and greens air-flown from a farm in Okinawa, Japan. The bed of sand is amassed from a pollution-free deep sea in Okinawa, mixed only with natural fertilizers and irrigates solely with chemical-free water. The neighbouring Artisan Room is a hip cafe serving artisan coffee.
How to go? Take to HKU Station and Exit B2.