Thanks to my new job, I had the (dis)pleasure of dining at BO Innovation recently, and even though it is now weeks ago, the experience is definitely one that hasn’t faded away quickly. Foodies in Hong Kong have surely heard of BO but for those who haven’t, BO is hailed by many to be one of the best restaurants in the world due to owner and “Demon Chef” Alvin Leung’s wildly creative and experimental style of cooking. And experimental it was.
The meal began with Pat Chun, a combination of mousse-like cream, pomelo, pineapple, tomato and vinegar, which I managed to swallow like I would take medicine (quick and without tasting it).
Next was the Molecular Xiao Long Bao, which was a little jelly sphere filled with pork broth meant to pop in your mouth, giving you all the flavors of a xiao long bao without you having to chew or bite anything. But what is this – made for people without teeth? The little sphere did in fact pop like a ripe pimple inside my mouth, and while the juices spilled out I once again had to swallow it quickly to just get rid of it.
At this point, I knew that this super high-end molecular meal was definitely not for me, but I had no choice but to stay as it was a full-on media lunch. So, a few (somewhat) normal dishes later, we were served the Nitro dish, which was essentially a big lump of ginger tea ‘cooked’ in liquid nitrogen. While I watched the waiter tossing the lumps in a steaming bowl of chemicals, I really wanted to skip this course but again, peer pressure prevailed and I was given a huge shit-shaped lump to put into my mouth.
The experience was like sticking my tongue on a frozen chair-lift, except it was totally inverted and instead of only my tongue being stuck to ice, it was my entire mouth. While all eyes were on me, spitting it out was not an option and by the time I managed to break it down and swallow it my mouth felt all scratched up.
Finally, it was time for dessert and I still had a glimmer of hope that it’d be good, seeing that it had almond as a main ingredient. Instead, we were given the Sandalwood, which was a pot of tofu-like substance with hawthorn and actual smoke that smelled like incense from a Chinese temple. We were told to inhale the smoke first, and then dig into the contents of the pot, but after smelling the burnt incense smell, it felt like I was eating incense ash ice cream.
Unfortunately, Alvin Leung himself was sitting next to me at this point so I managed to get a few (small) spoonfuls in, but I quickly covered up my pot to avoid having any more of the disgusting dessert.
Overall, I can appreciate Alvin’s creativity given that there’s definitely not enough of it in Hong Kong, but the entire dining experience felt more like a lab experiment to me than anything else. It reminded me of when I was a kid and used to mix all the leftovers from the dimsum table together for fun, like fish eyeballs, chicken feet bones, pork fat, pepper and a slosh of jasmine tea. The difference is, I never forced anyone to eat it…
Of course, there are many people out there who absolutely adore BO Innovation, for whatever reasons I as a simpletongue won’t understand. For another perspective, check out the review by Luxeat (who took all the pictures above).