When we scout for interesting restaurants for our travels, we look through lists, we read reviews, we check for tips — but this time, we were actually intrigued by the restaurants own website. Rarely does a restaurant declare their vision and their statement as clearly as Nur, for instance in this video:
Chef Nurdin Topham clearly describes where he's coming from (having worked with Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons in Oxford for a decade), the concept of the restaurant and where his values lie. He's a qualified nutritional therapist, and clearly cares a lot about what is actually put on the plate and what it does to our bodies. Nur's food is a combination of what we want to eat, and what we should be eating. The produce is sourced with great care, and they grow most of their own herbs on their rooftop terrace. Quickly after opening in 2014, the restaurant also received a Michelin star.
When we arrive, we first have a hard time locating the restaurant, as there are no clear signs on the busy Hong Kong junction where Nur is located. Going up to the third floor of the building, we're taken to our table at the open kitchen dining room. Hans Wegner's Y-chairs fit perfectly in this minimalistic but cosy and rather cool restaurant setup. It's a different feeling sitting a few stories up from the street, and we can look out over the terrace gardens and the chefs at work in the kitchen.
We start of with a platter of delicious amuse bouches and a plate of goose, brined for 1 week, smoked on cherry and lychee wood, dry aged and brushed with black garlic for one month. Served with pickled chayote, dashi marinated kombu with Vietnamese mint and lemon verbena, finished with a cool summer tea kombucha.
The first dish is heirloom tomatoes, marinated in sweet patchun vinegar with a tomato essence and lemon basil oil poured on top. It's easy to pick up the freshness in the tomatoes and the dish as a whole.
The produce at Nur is really outstanding. There's several ingredients and influences from Japanese cuisine in the way everything is delicately handled. For instance the Hamo (Japaneese sea eel) is salted, smoked and made into mousse marbles, served with peeled and fermented fig. It's finished with goose juice, tarragon and crispy eel skin.
A highlight dish of the evening is what's labeled as "golden egg". The dish is comprised of a white soy and kombu marinated Taiyouran egg, with sugar snap peas, snake beans with a kombu and rocket emulsion. The egg truly oozes out over the dish and creates a truly mouthwatering plate of food!
The house-made sourdough bread is truly delicious and we're not hesitant to reply "yes please" when asked if we want more.
One quibble we can't overcome is however the minimalistic interaction with us during our entire visit. The servers and staff almost seems afraid of interacting with us and quickly wants to get out of our way. We think this derives from the experience as the food and ambience is great. It's a shame, because there's clearly a lot of thought behind the ingredients and dishes here; but we don't get to know about it.
This isn't a tasting menu where all dishes are stand-outs on their own, but instead serves as a great combined meal with a clear direction and purpose.
The desert-courses follow in the same footsteps as the rest of the meal. The yamanashi peach, compressed with a lemongrass infused peach juice is light and sweet; and the Japanese cherries soaked in kirsch, cherry and liquorice jam on pistachio cake is a nice end to a well-rounded meal.
It's been a great evening at Nur. The vision for their food truly translated onto the plates. As we watched the open kitchen during the meal, it was evident that this brigade is a well oiled-machine, simply to bad that the thought process in their heads didn't reach out the 10 metres from the kitchen to our table.
As we leave the restaurant, we have a chat with the general manager, which in contrast to the servers is very conversational and we're saddened that he wasn't at our table more often. With a bigger focus on the interactions with the diner Nur could have a real hit on its hand!
This is the first time we've left a restaurant after a full tasting menu and didn't feel "heavy" or that we had eaten to much. This was an interesting relief — it gave us room to continue to another restaurant and experience even more...