Contemporary WesternFoodVancouver

The Faculty of Fine Dining

Passion is the key ingredient. Imagine fine dining at home!

My friend, Jonathan, started “The Faculty of Fine Dining” club at UBC with his friend, Ian, who already had culinary experience in both his family and previous work experiences. The club is for aspiring young chefs in UBC who share the same talent in culinary arts to cook together…or for people who really know how to enjoy good food. I guarantee you that their food pictures will leave you hungry. Being a “foodie” in Vancouver and a friend, I was incredibly happy to hear that my friend was on his way to a successful culinary future. Jacky and I were invited to a 5 course tasting at Jonathan’s place, and I purposely left my stomach empty for this. I really hope to see them open a restaurant in the future and I think they really deserve more recognition.

More: Check out The Faculty of Fine Dining for more delicious recipes!

Jon Ho and Ian Lee (6)

Jacky and I got there a bit early so we offered to help in the kitchen. Stirring risotto was a hefty work!

Jon Ho and Ian Lee (2)

We started with the Salmon Tartare with Bacon and a side of crostini. I’m pretty sure that the tartare had sesame oil in it which overpowered the salmon a tad bit. I hoped to taste more of the ocean in the salmon tartare but it was more bacon meaty and very flavoursome with the chives. Adding the tartare on top of a crunchy, buttery and herbed crostini was a wonderful explosion of taste and texture.

Jon Ho and Ian Lee (8)

Here’s a close up of the salmon tartare with bacon with a dash chives and sesame.

Jon Ho and Ian Lee (5)

On the lighter side of the salmon tartare with bacon, there was the Salmon Tartare with Ponzu. Shifting to a more natural and citrusy side, I could taste the freshness and juiciness of the salmon. The citrus zest was refreshing in my mouth and since the tartare was cold, I found this more welcoming, smooth, and easier to eat before the entrées.

Jon Ho and Ian Lee (9)

In between, Jon made us Chawanmushi which means “tea cup steamed” in Japanese. This is another type of egg custard that I found to be smoother and more dessert like than Chinese steamed egg. Topped with bonito flakes, this Chawanmushi did not have the usual ingredients like gingko seeds or kombu, but only shoyu tamago (egg soy sauce), chicken broth and other bits. I would love to make this as a snack if I could get myself a bottle of shoyu tamago.

Jon Ho and Ian Lee (3)

The first entrée served was the Mushroom Risotto. I’ve had Jonathan’s pumpkin risotto before and I have been craving the creaminess and softness of risotto ever since. The ingredients for risotto are pretty simple, but the process of perfecting the texture and taste is  challenging. This time, I was pleased that the risotto was al dente – not crunchy to the point that it would get stuck in your teeth and not too soft that it would melt in your mouth. The creaminess from the blend of parmesan and butter was delicate and the only down side was that it was a bit too salty.

More: Check out my review about the risotto at Ask for Luigi

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The last entrée of the night was Ian’s Signature Chicken Dinner with mushrooms, mashed potatoes and a drizzle of balsamic and Dijon mustard. Each piece of chicken was cut in 2cm width to keep the chicken juice sealed in, warm and easier to eat without making a mess. To me, it looked like rectangular pillows with juice oozing out once I bit into it. The mushrooms were tossed with caramelized garlic giving it a sweeter and savoury taste. One extremely delicious thing I noticed about this dish was the perfect blend of Dijon mustard and balsamic. Ian likes to call Dijon mustard “western wasabi” which was true, because the mustard did hit my nose a few times. However, the reason why balsamic was the perfect addition was due to the sweetness and neutrality it provided for the mustard. What I did throughout the dinner was eat a piece of chicken with mustard and balsamic on it so I could enjoy the pleasant trio taste of the chicken and a spicy and sweet taste from the combination without stinging my nose. 

Jon Ho and Ian Lee (10)

 Lastly, a Dark Chocolate with Banana Infused Cream and Raspberry Coulis was served for dessert. Presentation was in a wine glass and absolutely gorgeous with a very girly touch to it. A rich and heavenly chocolate mousse was really what I wanted and it was delightful to taste chocolate bits in the mouse. The raspberry coulis was a fruity sensation that went very well with the mousse. On top of the mousse and raspberry coulis was the banana infused cream, raspberries and a sprinkle of mint. I wish that I could have tasted more banana infused cream because I love banana with chocolate or cream, and the mint stood out in every bite even with the coulis and mousse.

There is no way I am not returning for more.

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