Sunday, 3 October 2010

SIFF 2010 - Dan Hong's Degustation Lunch - Lotus, Potts Point

Finally, the most anticipated Sydney International Food Festival 2010 has arrived ! This is the time of the year where there are food festivals everywhere in town and many restaurants are having special dining events, be it dessert nights, brunches, high tea, lunches or dinners.

When I read in the Merivale newsletter that Chef Dan Hong of Lotus Bar & Bistro in Potts Point is doing a special degustation lunches again for the SIFF 2010, I knew I just have to book myself in. 
There wasn't much information given on this special lunch, except that it will be a suprise and the only hint we got is this from the chef ( from the Merivale Food Festival webpage ) :
"The magic won't just be on the plate" and "Creatures of The Deep"
With just that as a hint, I had no doubt that I will not be dissapointed as I had an impressive degustation lunch here during the Merivale's Feast for The Senses back in July.

The Power of Magic @ Lotus 

We arrived way to early for our booking and we saw Chef Dan Hong himself writing today's lunch  theme on the blackboard when we got there
We were so early that the restaurant is not ready to open yet, LOL ! So we were asked to wait a few minutes outside while the staff are doing the final touches to the table settings.

First question that popped into my mind when I read the board, who is Liam Power ? Is it going to be a collaboration lunch today ? Then the second question is how is the magic part of the theme is going to be incorporated into the lunch ?

I found it really fun and exciting when you just don't know what to expect :)
At the least we now know what we are having for lunch, as promised, the menu revolved around creatures of the deep - seafoods that are currently in season.

Sparkling water gone couture ; Warm sourdough

Wow...even water companies has gone into collaboration with couture designers ! Missoni in this case has made special edition bottles with San Pellegrino. Pretty bottles :)
While we wait for the first course, we were served a freshly baked warm sourdough bread, fluffy centre and crispy crust. 

Ceviche of Sea Scallops with Vietnamese Flavours

The first dish of 5 course degustation lunch was a very nicely plated ceviche of sea scallops with a spicy and refreshing consomme. The consomme itself has a very distinct taste and aroma of fish sauce, which is of course the must have condiments of Vietnamese cuisine.
The sea scallops were so fresh, sweet, tender yet still firm. There was a pretty scattering of salted dried konbu strips, fried diced garlic, slices of jalapeno, micro herbs : shisho and coriander.
To our delight the serving size was quite generous as we just couldn't get enough of it.
This is definitely a great start to our lunch.

Say Hi ! to Liam Power 

The mystery is solved !! The magic part of today's lunch comes in form of magic tricks by Liam Power, magician extraordinaire !!
So he is not a chef as I speculated earlier , but I'm not 100% incorrect as he had trained as a chef before he decided to that magic is what he really wanted to do ( info gathered from his webpage of course :P).

Liam performed his magic at every table, which was so much fun ! Even after asking him to repeat a few tricks several times, we were still amazed and gobsmacked each time. The waiter who was standing behind him kept grinning at us, our faces must have looked so ridiculous hahahahahahahaha !!
Thank you for entertaining us while we wait for the next course Liam !

Kimchi Consomme with Octopus, Black Mussels & Silken Tofu

The consomme was poured out of a jug onto the plate on the table, but I was distracted by the magic that by the time I turn around it has been poured onto our plates :(
Isn't this such a pretty dish ? The brightly coloured flowers and the seafood is just stunning.
The kimchi consomme was another refreshing and tangy broth, which was thankfully not as spicy as the first dish. The flavour was quite subtle as not to overpower the more delicate flavours of the seafood. 
The octopus was very tender and the black mussels were fresh and sweet. 
There was also silken tofu studded with edible flowers and a piece of ito konnyaku ( thread konjac).

Spring is definitely on the plate, can't say the same on the weather outside though, it was raining and way too gloomy for a Spring day !

Steamed Snapper with Spanner Crab, White Fungi, Shiitake & Thickened Ginger Broth

The fish arrived with a glistening film over it, which was the thickened ginger broth that tasted so good. It has a slippery texture which gives a perception of richness and creaminess without the fat. The very fresh piece of steamed snapper was resting on a bed of silky spanner crab meat. It's Chinese home style steamed fish with ginger and shiitake gone high class :)
The fish was cooked perfectly, the meat was flaky, soft and sweet. 

Passionfruit Custard, Chocolate Meringue, Yoghurt Sorbet

Next came the first of two dessert courses, a passionfruit custard on the bottom, a layer of crumbed biscuits, a layer of broken pieces of chocolate meringue and topped with a cooling yoghurt sorbet.
We waited for about 20minutes for the dessert to come out, but it was worth all the waiting !
It was amazing !!  The waitress instructed that the best way to eat it is by getting a bit of everything. 
To summarize : smooth tart passionfruit custard + sweet buttery sand of biscuits + very chocolatey chocolate meringue + refreshing yoghurt sorbet = one damn good dessert in a glass.
As proof, here is Oni from showing her almost spotless glass and wanting some more.

"Sir Chef, can I have some more please?"

Although I know what to expect, it was still quite funny when we were given a small dish with 3 Miracle Frooties tables 5 minutes before the next course of desssert was being served. So there we were, sitting silently trying to suck on the tablet while ensuring "an even coating of the mouth" as the waitress instructed as quickly as possible. They are definitely not one that is quick to dissolve, arrgh !
We were still sucking when the plate of fruit arrived , so we just stared at the plate for a few minutes while swirling the tablet around in the mouth LOL.

Miracle Fruit Plate

You would have know about the Miracle Frooties if you have been following the food blogs that had reviewed them sometime last year. These tablets, once it has disintegrate and coated your mouth, will make everything sour tasted sweet, cool huh ?
So of course, the fruit platter consist of all the sour fruits that is currently in season - we got lime, lemon, strawberries, raspberries, very unripe pineapple, orange, passionfruit and a cherry tomato.
We gingerly took a bite of either lime or lemon first....*drumroll*......It is very SWEET !!! The pills worked !! YAY !!
Our conclusion is that the most sour fruit will taste the sweetest, but the effect didn't last as long as we thought it would. 
Smart me leave the lime last and when I bite into it the effect has worn tasted as lime should , very sour >_<
Tips for you , do not leave the most sour fruit last.

Last performance by Liam Power ; *wave* to Chef Dan Hong in the background :)

As we finished the last piece of sour fruits platter, suddenly all of the diners sitting outside were ushered inside. Rain ? Then the music was turned off and we have one last performance by the magician of the day. The chef took a short break and enjoyed the magic show for a while with the diners :)
All of us had fun with the performance and the lunch ended with a couple of big rounds of applause for the magician.
Kudos to Chef Dan Hong for another great dining experience and a well thought and executed 5 course degustation menu :)

This special degustation lunch @ Lotus only runs for 2 Saturdays in October - 2nd and 9th.
$70 for 5 Courses + $40 for optional wine matching.

Lotus on Urbanspoon


  1. i saw that magician work at Tharen's. he's great! :-)

  2. simon : oh yeah, he performs at Tharen as well isn't he ? He's sooo good, wish I could do the tricks !

  3. i love the idea of the kim chi broth and octopus! fantastic! and actually possible to replicate at home too.

  4. hi anna : it was really nice, wonder how they make the broth so clear yet still tasted like kimchi ? would love to see your version of it !

  5. Oh I SO wanted to go to this lunch - but the day's just didn't suit :( Great write-up Monica!

  6. hi tina : ouw...that's a pity, maybe next SIFF he's going to do one similar, and hope you can make it then :)

  7. yummm I'll definitely try this! Hopefully it is as good as Ms.G's! :)

  8. helena : I haven't been to Ms.G ( OMG....I know !), but I think the menu has similar flavours, I'm sure you'll love Lotus if you love Ms.G :)