Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Edo & Bibo - Mediocrity at its best

I heard recently that the owners of the Sai Kung private kitchen One Thirty-One* had opened this new place, Edo & Bibo in Causeway Bay. I've never been to One Thirty-One, because every time I tried to book they were full (it would always be on a weekend, because what other time would I be in Sai Kung?) So when I heard about the new Causeway location I couldn't wait to try it.

Seafood display
They call themselves an oyster & steak house, and indeed, had a decent variety of oysters (13 kinds I think, on the night we went) but the handling, be it by their suppliers or by them, is questionable. We had about 5 rounds of oysters (like the platter in the opening picture) and we got about 3-4 dodgy ones. They graciously replaced them (if they had any more) but still, a little disconcerting.

5J Cinco Jotas Jamon Iberico
The meats we had were kinda blah. The fat in the jamon (not talking about the "steak" yet) didn't have that bright flavour of salt-cured animal fat the way I just said that sounds kind of disgusting, but I mean the kind that reverberates in your mouth like some crazy, high-energy taste echo.

Caesar salad
Cut-it-yourself caesar? Not a big fan, plus the lettuce was wilting and the sauce was warm.

Lobster bisque
Not much to say, not bad but not entirely memorable. Most of the time I was trying to figure out what the white stuff on top was. Probably that sad white pasteurised stuff Hongkongers call cream. They were nice enough to split the 2 servings we ordered into four smaller ones.

Spaghetti carbonara with black truffle
A little on the salty side, but otherwise passable. Smelled great, but that always makes me wonder if they used some kind of fake truffle essence...

I didn't include a picture of the Iberico steak (because it's all out-focused), but the meat itself was cooked to the right temperature (despite it being too raw the first time - it was blue, not a stage at which I believe pork should be eaten at - they brought it out at a nice medium the second time) and it was juicy and tender. The outside, however, had a horrible charred taste, acrid and bitter - I had to cut it off. I was really excited about the Tomahawk; I'd seen pictures of it before and it looked like Fred Flinstone's lamb rack, s I was expecting something biggish, alas, it was smaller than some bistecca fiorentinas I've had. The crust had a lot of salt on it, and was way too burnt and dry. Inside, the colour looked nice, but eating it was a feat - it was all stringy and tough, with hardly any juices. What went wrong? Was it the quality of the meat, the way it was cut, or the way it was cooked? I don't know much about the science of cooking beef, but I'm of the belief (when you don't have knowledge, you tend to rely on beliefs, right, classic human weakness) that if you have a good piece of beef, and have a reasonable grasp of pan-frying, you can't really go wrong with steak. So I'm tempted to say it's about the quality of the beef.

Pannacotta with macerated berries
The desserts were pretty decent. I really liked the macerated berries that came with the pannacotta. These days so many places just throw on some berries as an afterthought or merely for colour, and don't actually do anything with them, but these guys chopped them up and did a quick maceration - it doesn't take much time, it doesn't take up a stovetop, yet it makes a world of difference.

Croissant and butter pudding
We had a chocolate moelleux as well, but it's scrawled with a huge "Happy Birthday Janice" and didn't make a good photo (and frankly I find it a little embarrassing). It was decent, more of a homemade recipe with an uneven, dry, muffin-like crust, which is fine by me. But overall I didn't have a very exciting meal, the main disappointment being the grills, but little things here and there added to the unease. Oh well, another one to add to the new and shouldn't be noted list.

You should think that with our crazily high rents, culture of eating out and slowing economy we'd have better restaurants, but somehow places like Edo & Bibo crop up all the time. I don't know how long they'll be around for, and I hope they world out their kinks because Hong Kong needs mediocrity like I need a punch in the face.

*edit: To clarify, it seems that it's the chef at One Thirty-One who went to Edo & Bibo. E&B is owned by ET Troop, which looks like it's not related to 131.

Edo & Bibo Oyster and Steak House
28/F Macau Yat Yuen Centre
525 Hennessy Rd
Causeway Bay
Hong Kong
+852 3421 0472

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