Indulgence, extravagance, satiation and gluttony. These are the sorts of words which usually best describe an experience at a fine dining spot which offers you only a couple of choices when it comes to the menu. You just get an indulgent set dinner or an over-indulgent one because the food is usually so damn good there doesn’t need to be ‘options’. But at Nur, Privé group’s latest venture, it’s a different story. It’s not about going heavy and luxurious. It’s about staying light and healthy – but no less innovative.
After the success of Masu and Common Room as Privé’s first undertakings in Hong Kong’s restaurant scene, Nur is not only the group’s premier move into the realm of fine dining but also a bold step into the experimental. The name means ‘light’ in Arabic but it’s also a play on Nurdin Topham’s name. The head chef most recently worked at the Nordic Food Lab in Copenhagen, Denmark, a non-profit organisation dedicated to the exploration of the ‘deliciousness’ of foods and raw materials. He says he’s determined to give ingredients in Hong Kong the same kind of attention, and Nur is the platform to showcase his discoveries.
Located on the third floor of Central’s Lyndhurst Tower, Nur has transformed a concrete terrace into a lush herb garden that grows some of the ingredients used in the kitchen. The spacious restaurant is light and unpretentious, with a grand open kitchen taking up much of the dining room. As you sit down, the only choice you can make is between the ‘Light’ ($788) or the ‘Feast’ ($988) set menus. We decide to go all out, of course…
The amuse bouche is the first to arrive. There’s a trio of dishes here: a beetroot taco with watercress emulsion, some slow-cooked carrots, and nashi pear and cucumber pickled in jasmine kombucha. The crisp beetroot taco wafer is light but also brings out the rich, steely taste of the watercress. The carrots, dehydrated and glazed, have a caramel sweetness that’s well intensified by the cumin and cream garnish. And the cucumber and pear are fresh and combine well, particularly with the added fragrance of the jasmine and kombucha. Each ingredient in this trio dances on the palate, while also working in harmony with each other. It’s a perfect start.
Next up are different types of tomatoes from Zen Organic Farm, briefly doused in Pat Chun vinegar and white soy. These are served with king crab, tomato water and herbs from Nur’s own garden for the tiniest carbon footprint imaginable. We find each tomato has its own unique texture and a slightly different flavour that has been teased out by the cold water. Simple yet effective. The same can be said about the salad which follows. Organic lettuce, garden vegetables, Périgord black truffle dressing and aged Parmesan make up this dish. Aptly garnished with edible flower petals, it’s like a gastronomical walk in a botanical garden, with sweet fragrances permeating the sinuses throughout each bite.
Then it’s the proteins. But this is where the meal wavers a little. The brined and rolled chicken thigh, wrapped around the bird’s breast, is slow-poached and roasted with caramelised cauliflowers – but doesn’t create the flavour extravaganza of the previous dishes despite being juicy enough to be ‘good enough’. But then the 48-hour slow-cooked stockyard wagyu beef cheek, smoked with apple wood and presented with a slash of black garlic purée and Chinese kale, fares much better. Usually, even slow-cooked, wagyu beef cheek tends to be gummy. But the cheek here is soft, supple and is anything but sticky. The black garlic ignites the beef flavours, creating a fully rounded dish.
And, to finish, the dessert is a bitter chocolate and orange sorbet with pieces of hazelnut dacquoise. It’s a light delight. Between the strong notes of citrus and bitter chocolate, there isn’t any room for sweetness to steal the show – and who needs it?
We thoroughly enjoy our gastronomical journey at Nur. And, as we leave, we carry no heavy bulge. We’re satisfied, refreshed and nourished. In fact, we can’t help but wonder – would everyone wanting the no-other-options set menu at a fine dining spot be able to swap indulgence and extravagance for healthy, lighter options? We certainly hope so because otherwise Nur won’t be anywhere near as popular as we predict it’s going to be. Lisa Cam
Nur 3/F, Lyndhurst Twr, 1 Lyndhurst Tce, Central, 2871 9993; nur.hk.
3/F, Lyndhurst Twr, 1 Lyndhurst Tce, Central