While eating out is a lifestyle respected by many, eating out during lunch peak hours can be quite a pain. Let's face it, even with a reservations made there are so many confounding variables that will affect your experience in the limited time you have for the middle meal of the day. Even worse is when you feel so constrained with time that you simply grab something you know you won't remember the same evening, and loathe yourself for wasting the quota. Yes, lunching is not always easy especially during the week, but restaurants are starting to serve good lunches that can easily fit within the timeframe of most who don't normally have 3-hour lunches. Here we introduce two good lunch options that we've tried that should satisfy in the quick for many.
Fine-Dining doesn't always take hours. Yes, it's an experience that normally spans a few hours over numerous courses, but time should not be the constraint for those who want their lunch experience be a good one. Such is the case with WHISK at The Mira, where new executive chef Bjoern Alexander whips up some of his artistic creations over lunch with his new selections of the "Business Lunch Set Menu". Diners are encouraged to choose one out of 5 choices in each course, and a totally of three courses, and each week the menu rotates, to ensure the novelty factor for returning diners. Among dishes served in these menu, the "Large King Prawn with Gazpacho and Crispy Bread" takes on a Thai tiger-prawn, which is slow-cooked and then seared lightly. The Crispy bread slice is made with Sourdough bread, toasted until crispy. The Gazpacho element is not made the traditional way. Instead, for a fresher alternative, Chef Bjoern decided to combine three types of tomatoes for a puree and dressed with green dots of basil oil. The prawn, sweet with a crunch, is lighter with the classic pairing of fresh tomatoes and basil in the gazpacho.
Main courses present various choices as well. "Spanish Pork Belly with Smoked Bell Pepper, Anis and Carrots". Is simplicity on its own. Chef Bjoern takes pork belly from Spain and has it slow-cooked until tender. The crackling is crisped up through brief searing on a hot skillet and served alongside braised carrots spiked with some star-anise. The light licorice aroma of the sweet carrots contrasts with the puree of smoked bell peppers, increasing depth of flavours contributed by sharp sour cream and the rich pork belly. Serving of the dish is quite generous as well.
Selection of desserts at these Business Lunch Set Menus include cheeses, sorbets and ice cream, as well as a few composed desserts. "Half Coconut, Soup of Coconut and Chocolate Chili Ice cream" is served on a half-coconut, with the filling comprising of coconut mousse well-paired with lychee espuma and a sweet soup made of pineapple juice, coconut milk and the slightest tang from lime juice. The chili chocolate sorbet brings forth a throat-tickling sensation of heat. The moist tender meringue bubbles and caramel tuile at the top brings extra crunchy texture to an otherwise softer fluffy dessert. Business Lunch Set Menus at WHISK are served from Mondays to Saturdays. Lunch Sets start at $288 per person.
While lunching at Nobu of the Intercontinental Hong Kong may not be an express lunch, nor should it be a new idea. The panoramic restaurant is presenting a new set of Donburi lunches, served with salad, miso soup and Oshinko (pickles) for weekday lunches.
Among the 12 varieties of Donburi Lunches (Hot and cold, 6 of each), We recommend the "Iwashi Sashimi and Chirimen Jako Donburi" the most. According to Erik Idos, executive chef at Nobu, Iwashi, also known as Sardines, are best in the summer when it comes to Sashimi. The tiny fish called Chirimen Jako are baby sardines that came from Southern Japan. The best way to consume this donburi is to mix everything together first - the onsen egg at the top, with the running yolk melting into the rice flavoured with sesame seeds, seaweed flakes and scallion. Slices of sardines dipped slightly into a special soy sauce flavored with grated ginger for a sharp stinging heat on an otherwise sweet and fresh fish.
"Sashimi Donburi in Chilled Ochazuke" is a large bowl of rice specked with toasted sesame seeds and coriander, served with a generous helping of iced soup. The soup is made with miso, rice vinegar and Japanese dashi. The sharp heat and tang of the iced soup brings in an interesting harmony of heat and vinegary tartness. Conches and Scallops are cut into bite sized pieces, which are quite manageable when served with rice., and even better than the seafood are the cucumber chunks, absorbing the seasoned soup and yet offering a chilling bite to the vegetable.
Donburi served hot has the same allure to diners. The "Smoked Chicken and Tamago Donburi" takes a traditional chicken-and-egg donburi on a complex twist. Chef Idos smokes the chicken with apple wood for 15 minutes until the chicken has taken a woody, smoky aroma. The semi-set egg enriches the Korean hot sauce served here with chunks of smoked chicken. The addition of lemon juice and toasted sesame oil adds depth to the sauce. It's a refreshing alternative to the conventional chicken with runny egg omelette. Nobu's Donburi lunches are served from Mondays to Fridays. Prices range from $195 to $628.