Saturday, January 16, 2010

Hong Kong - Benson Cuisine & Wine

Benson was and still is, in the wholesale business, bringing in quality produce and wines.  I don't know this for a fact but believe that the restaurant started a few years so they can showcase their quality inventory as well as perhaps manage the whole chain a lot better.  The restaurant is not what you would expect a place serving very decent food to look like - on the contrary, it is exactly like walking into your friend's dining room, casual and cozy.  Sometimes they even draw the curtains for privacy.

Service was a little short, and we were surprised that we could not swap certain dishes, and there was not even a suggestion that one could do so, by perhaps topping up some moola.  A little too rigid in my opinion for a small set up like this.  Oh well.

The menu does not boast complex dishes but rather simple cooking methods to allow the produce to speak for itself.  Although famous for its hairy crab tasting menu, I had the regular tasting menu since the former are no longer in season.  The 6-course tasting menu boasted the following:

Oyster duo - a Tasmanian and an Irish.  Both were very fresh but the Tasmanian was very creamy and sweet, which I preferred of the 2, even though I generally like a slightly more briny one.

The cream of mushroom soup was light but just a tad short on the mushroomy-ness.  Upside: it was healthier than usual.

Cleanse palate with a sweeter than usual lime sorbet and then..

The piece de resistance of the tasting menu was really the piece of ribeye.  Evenly marbled and very tender yet meaty, it was well executed.  Sitting in a red wine reduction which brought out the flavours, add some mustard for punch and you're in heaven.  My only complaint: presentation was on a plate which was a tad small and really like going to your friend's and all it's about is the food.  Boiled broccoli and carrots are a little '90s for me, but ok, we all could use a little fibre.

I liked the lobster ravioli also - although it was more akin to a Shanghainese wanton, so you have to like a slightly chewy and thicker than usual skin.  I like it and you should too - just have to take your mind away from the traditional ravioli skins in a true Italian joint.  The tomato concasse was not too tart and slightly sweet so as to provide a complementary sauce which did not overwhelm.

The crab cakes from the tasting menu were excellent.  Usually made from canned crab meat, this was the real McCoy.  Use of fresh crab meat, and seasoned lightly, the light flaky crab held together in a well deep fried breaded crust, and painted with old-fashioned tartar sauce, was very good.  At least our initially unhelpful waiter managed to put this in as an appetiser order, since it's not included in the 6-course.

The angel hair with lobster is also highly recommended from the main menu.  Lobster was still crunchy and fresh - sweet.  Obviously fresh!  And coupled with al dente angel hair, coated with a light tomato cream sauce, sheer delight!

Finally, tasting menu dessert of chocolate milk pudding was ok, nothing fantastic.  Just like eating chilled chocolate milk - pleasant enough.  The warm chocolate pudding from the main menu was however, decent.  Not the best, but a satisfying end to a good meal.

Next time you want to pop to a friend's for dinner, but have no invite?  Pay your way at Benson's for a similar experience.  Only hope that the waiters are a little more charming next time round.

G/F, 12C Sing Woo Road
Happy Valley
Tel: +852-2893 6900

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