I was invited to a reunion dinner with some elementary school classmates. Turns out one of them, Ken, is a hobby chef. In fact, he has previously worked in the kitchen for restaurants such as La Regalade, Mistral French Bistro and CinCin. He has now moved on to another field of work but would entertain friends with his cooking. Of course, I wouldn’t miss out on the opportunity to try it out.
So we were in for a treat. Ken hosted us for a 5-course dinner for just the cost of ingredients. Compared to what we usually pay at restaurants, this was definitely a good deal. But then, at restaurants we pay the extra for professional service and decor that sets up the mood and ambiance. We are also paying for some dishes that are impossible to prepare at home. In this case, we saved a little bit of money and opt for a casual setting and some great catch-up time with friends.
And food quality was not compromised for the price we paid. We started with a Sockeye Salmon Tataki. It’s a cool, refreshing start of the evening. The balsamic reduction and lemon oil were made from scratch, and they worked well with the salmon as well as the mussels. We then watched Ken build our next course, Seared Spot Prawn with Puff Pastry. It’s perfect to call this profession “culinary art” because it’s truly an art – it’s fascinating to watch Ken stack vertically the different components of the dish and avoid them from falling. It was a yummy dish. The spot prawn was fresh and the puff pastry was crispy. It’s too bad that the mangoes were not in season so the salsa was a bit too sour.
Third course was the soup course. How about a Lobster Bisque? Ken made the lobster broth from the shells and it’s tasty. I’ve had lobster bisque that’s way too thick, but the consistency of this one was just right. Perhaps I could use a tiny bit more cream. The soup was served with a piece of toast and it’s great for dipping into the soup. Then we had a more filling course, Prosciutto and Manila Clam Spaghetti. Although we couldn’t point out the specifics, we agreed that this dish was lacking something. While the tomato sauce was already spiced up with some chillies, the dish could use more layers of flavour, making it more dynamic.
To wrap up the meal, we were treated to some Chocolate Mousse. Ken told us that dessert is not one of his forte, which isn’t unusual for most cooks. Nonetheless, the dark chocolate mousse was smooth and was not too sweet. Ken named a couple more desserts that he could make so I hope to try them next time.
This may sound like a biased post, but as a foodie myself, it’s great and I’m proud to know that I have a friend who could entertain us with some good food. The meal that we had was of good value and I would definitely return for more.
Ken the Hobby Chef
(Contact info available upon request)