Thursday, March 1, 2012

Almeria Inspiration

Food and travel guest blogger hkLifestyleGeek gives us her next scoop on fantastic restaurants around town and travel tips. Contact her at

Some foodies have been raving about Mesa 15 on Hollywood Road and I finally got a chance to try it when Chef Alejandro Sanchez was recently in town to unveil the new menu. While this is his first restaurant outside of Spain, Sanchez is no stranger to amazing food -- he was awarded one star in the Michelin Guide 2012 (Spain-Portugal edition) for Restaurante Alejandro and Mesa 15 got a recommendation in the Michelin Guide 2012 (Hong Kong-Macau edition). Sanchez hails from Almeria in southern Spain and the dishes he presented reflect the sun and sea.

We sat at a high long table we shared with another party in the centre of the first floor, while the smaller tables surrounding us were filled up. It happened that evening that Charmaine Zeman and her daughter Marisa were at the bar having some down time together drinking cocktails and wine with some tapas.

In any event, we had to prepare ourselves for eight courses... it was a struggle, but in the name of research, your humble correspondent managed to eat her way through the dishes...

First up was sea urchin and aubergine scramble [sic] egg. What was presented was a small bowl and mostly filled with a raw egg topped with pungent sea urchin. There was chopped eggplant underneath. We were encouraged to break the yolk and mix it up before eating. While it was meant to be refreshing, there wasn't much taste in the dish, if any it was very subtle.

But we can all have false starts and thankfully from there onwards things got markedly better.
Then we were served oyster ceviche with celery puree. This was a colourful dish, the oyster sitting in a pool of vibrant green topped with sliced mushrooms. We all enjoyed this soup to the last drop and the raw French oyster was very fresh.
Next came almonds "ajo blanco" with wild tuna and fresh Israeli fig. Slices of tuna sashimi were placed on a bed of thick almond sauce, the latter having a subtle flavour and very unusual to see almonds presented this way. The figs were to die for -- very sweet and we wished there were more on the plate.

The sweet white prawns in Iberian broth with Chinese "choy sum" had a slight kick to it, but again it seemed strange having raw prawns there when a quick stirfry to make them crunchy would have been even better. However the broth was the saving grace, delicious and savoury.
We gushed over the slow-cooked lentil with grilled baby squid. Here the flavours from the vegetables and lentils were totally integrated with each in this hearty dish. It was very rustic and flavourful, and we were pretty much full after that.
Then we were served a Spanish cheung fun -- pigeon cannelloni with "the first black truffle of the year". Slices of tender pigeon were wrapped in a thin dough and dressed with a truffle sauce and shavings that was extremely aromatic. This was probably the most intriguing dish of all and surprised everyone at the table.

Another winner was the 18-hour cooked Wagyu beef cheek with beetroot puree. By this point we were pretty much full so we were thankful to get a small portion of this melt-in-your-mouth meat that had a lot of flavour in each bite. It was well complemented with the beetroot sauce.
Finally dessert arrived. The argricole rum sponge cake was a bit on the dry side, but could easily be smothered by the delicious chocolate soup to whet the appetite along with tonka bean ice cream.

It's interesting to see Sanchez's creativity through his dishes, not afraid to experiment and see what reactions he gets. I intend to come back especially when the weather warms up again and sample his gazpacho, which I hear is the best in town.

Mesa 15
15 Hollywood Road
2530 1890

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