When we were invited over to try Culinart, one of Hong Kong’s hottest private kitchens, it was safe to say that we were all buzzing with anticipation in the office. Putting the art back into culinary creations, we were immediately excited for this edible journey of the senses.
The private kitchen is in a bit of an awkward location, hidden away in an industrial complex in Aberdeen just a stone’s throw away from Ocean Park, so it’ll take a bit of thinking ahead to get there (we all squeezed into an Uber, which made getting there easy as pie!). However, despite the somewhat grim outer appearance, Culinart itself is a completely different world.
The 1,800 square foot space is a gorgeous mesh of modern and rustic sensibilities, with a vivid crimson open kitchen and a beautifully laid out wooden dining table. As we waited for the rest of our party, we chilled out by the fireplace in vintage leather chairs and some amazing vino (provided by the fab Links Concept), both of which I still desperately want to take home. The laid back, chic vibe instantly set us at ease after a long day working in the office and we all settled down happily, ready for whatever would come next.
The meal began with a somewhat startling miniature flower pot being placed before us – filled with what we later learned was rich, mellow bread. The super creativity only climbed from then on, as we began with a white asparagus mousse and a pata negra bruschetta that hit the spot with a savoury crunch.
We then moved onto barracuda sashimi, which was easily one of my favourite parts of the meal. Having never had barracuda before, the sashimi melted on the tip of your tongue with a refreshing (if not unexpected) bitter kick of rhubarb and fennel.
The next two dishes to follow seemed to be from completely different parts of the world, but somehow complemented each other wonderfully. The soft and decadent aubergine caviar with sun-dried tomatoes was beautifully textured and ripe with flavour, followed by a humble yet hearty tom yum soup with a generously sized scallop. Even those of us that couldn’t handle our spice were pleased by the slight tingle and the tender scallops had soaked in the flavour beautifully – a difficult feat to pull off with this notoriously tricky delicacy.
I could write a poetry collection about the main course. Duck isn’t something I normally go for, but the gorgeous crust on Culinart’s spiced duck was a world of flavour with every bite; accompanying the smokiness of the blushing breast perfectly. It was over all too soon, but not for too long, as after a cardamom sorbet to cleanse our palettes, the amazing team brought out another course.
The New York strip steak was again stunning (these guys really know their meats and seafood, both of which were supplied by Porterhouse), with the onion marmalade rounding out the hearty beef and the crunchy sunchokes providing a surprisingly pleasant and complex change in texture.
As all great dinners with great people go, it came to an end too soon – but not before their signature ‘Jackson Pollock’ dessert was brought out. None of us had known what to expect, so when their team brought out two massive glass boards covered in a Pollock-esque design made up of amazing and varied desserts, we all rushed over to snap this Insta-worthy dessert table.
We didn’t have very long however as they began flambéing the miniature crème brulees before our very eyes with blow torches, adding to the artistic spectacle that we’d come to associate with their cooking vision. From rich, decadent tartlets to their delicately flavoured crème brulees, we were all side-eyeing one another as we raced to indulge in the surprising standout of the lot – candied raspberries and blueberries that positively burst with flavour the moment you bit into one (the chef let us in on his secret recipe with great reluctance, but if we told you ladies, we’d unfortunately have to kill you…).
Private dining is all the rage in Hong Kong with a new private kitchen popping up seemingly every few weeks, but it’s safe to say that Culinart is here to stay. With a tasting menu of ten different platters (we opted for a shorter eight course meal), every course is carefully thought out and delivered with precision, artistic flair and no shortage of taste. Perfect for parties with your closest friends in a dramatic candlelit and charming atmosphere, make sure somebody’s got a taxi number stashed on their phone for the long journey home.
Culinart, 22B Kwai Bo Industrial Building, 40 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen, 2580 0919, www.culinart.com.hk