Thursday, 24 August 2017

Adventurous Dining at Serge et le Phoque

Pan-fried scallops with red cabbage and squid ink sauce at Serge et le Phoque
Last night after the typhoon signal finally went down to T3, I ventured out for dinner with my aunt and her friend.

Spanish prawn two ways
I was prepared with rubber boots, but they were not necessary as there was hardly any rain, though a lot of debris on the road from tree branches.

We headed to the restaurant through what a street that is usually bustling with shops and customers but last night was completely shut and quiet. Serge et le Phoque is a hipster French restaurant located near the Wan Chai wet market and we were the first to arrive.

The place is hardly pretentious, which makes customers relaxed and curious about the place. Not long after we were seated, chef de cuisine Nic Chew (ex-L'atelier Robuchon and St Betty's) spotted us and came by to say hello. We asked what was on the chef's menu (HK$850 per person), but he was vague, only hinting the restaurant specialized in seafood.

Based on scant information we decided to go for it.

After a cucumber granite with a touch of spiciness, our appetites were whetted for an unknown feast. It started with skewers of four mussels each, lightly seasoned, followed by a Spanish prawn -- the meat extracted from the shell and again only lightly seasoned, accompanied by the head that was cooked tempura style. The flavours on both were intense and flavourful.

Sea bass ceviche with avocado and seaweed
Next came a refreshing sea bass ceviche with some fresh avocado slices topped with sesame seeds and dry seaweed. When we finished the dish, we were instructed to mop up the vinaigrette sauce with bread.

This was followed by pan-fried scallops with an interesting pairing of red cabbage and dressed with some squid ink sauce. I don't usually like red cabbage, but this one hardly tasted bitter.

My favourite dish came next -- mackerel decorated with a thin slice of daikon -- but what's underneath? Why some uni of course! And a beautiful smattering of fresh peas too. The fish was cooked perfectly and the uni added the umami umph.

We were also given a side of colourful beetroots garnished with grated fresh wasabi that was more like dry powder to perk up the dish.

Mackerel with uni on top, daikon and fresh peas
Another interesting combo was the only meat course, roasted guinea fowl that was tender, and topped with salmon roe and garnished with some fresh oyster mushrooms. Very creative.

A side dish of boiled then roasted half cabbage came out that also had butter in it. What a novel presentation.

By this point we were full, but would we like some cheese? My aunt said yes please! She was given a plate of blue cheese and brie and we shared it along with the crusty rye bread we'd been eating all evening.

Finally dessert. The restaurant's signature is the dacquoise -- a kind of soft macaron with vanilla custard in it and decorated with icing sugar and I'm pleased to report it's still quite good.

Opera cake garnished with whiskey jelly... so good!
But even better was the Opera cake -- chocolate cake with whiskey jelly on top! A nice small slice was the perfect amount for us to savour.

Serge et le Phoque
G/F, Shop B2, 3 Wan Chai Road
Wan Chai
5465 2000

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