This is a reprint of my article which appeared on Yahoo! HERE.

As someone who writes about food and restaurants, I’ve learned to always trust the chef. If I’m fortunate enough to dine at a restaurant with the chef present, my tendency is to decline the menu and allow the chef to choose my culinary adventure. When you have the opportunity to experience a meal with Harlan Goldstein, one of the icons of the Hong Kong restaurant scene, at his signature restaurant, Gold by Harlan Goldstein, you let him do the driving.

The meal
Truly one of the best meals of my life, it was a great balance of flavors. As I didn’t choose the menu, there were some things that I would not normally order, but that’s why I enjoy these tasting situations so much. I started off with the Hokkaido king crab, slow cooked to keep it moist. The crab is served with three colors of organic beet roots and avocado for a wonderfully simple and fresh taste. Delicious and not something I would typically order myself. Next up was a pasta dish that may be my favorite pasta dish ever, anywhere. Italian wild boar ragout served with tagliatelle pasta featuring shaved pecorino romano cheese, four kinds of mushrooms and topped with a slow cooked melting organic egg. Just a wonderful, amazing, delicious combination of flavors and textures. The pasta was perfect and the cheese and pork are a combination you can’t go wrong with.

 

The main course was simply awesome. A massive lamb rib chop, flown in from Colorado, slow-cooked (15 hours!) to tender perfection, and served with a wild mushroom puree, black truffle sauce and roasted garlic. Miniature purple sweet potatoes completed the experience. The combination of a great cut of lamb and Harlan’s perfect slow-cooking technique, really make this a must-try dish for Hong Kong visitors or locals. Wine was a unique white from France, a 2009 Vincent Girardin Chassagne-Montrachet from Burgundy. A fun, medium-bodied vintage, it went well with everything we had.

 

 

Dessert also did not disappoint as Harlan presented us with a bit of molecular gastronomy. Not for effect but because it added a unique way to introduce flavors. There’s a minestrone of fruit in a bowl, served with a lemongrass foam made from infused milk. The lemongrass-infused milk is quick frozen with liquid nitrogen to create a unique cloud of wonderful flavor. The dish allows for the sweet taste of the lemongrass with the fruit, without added sugar or extra sweetness. The molecular quality of the foam provides great harmony and balance to the dish, while the rising steam provides some visual stimulation and wow factor.

The experience
The restaurant is in the heart of Lan Kwai Fong, Hong Kong’s hottest nightlife and party area.. The room is richly appointed with luxurious woods and gold finishes. I would call it accessible opulence. Formal, yet friendly. The lighting, use of gold finishes and elegant gold accents are all especially exciting. There’s also a quality to the design, materials and workmanship that reflects Goldstein’s commitment to a total guest experience. You walk in and just know you’re in for great meal.

The service is seriously wonderful, honed and developed to a fine art since Gold’s opening in November of 2010. Personal, attentive, yet not smothering. These are food experts, rely on them for food and wine recommendations.

The chef
Chef / owner Harlan Goldstein’s culinary life has been quite an adventure and all those destinations and life experiences create the magic that is Gold by Harlan Goldstein. Born and raised by a single mother in Brooklyn, Goldstein got his first taste of working in a kitchen in his uncle’s restuarant after school and by age 14 was training in a Florida restaurant kitchen. Formal European training followed, as did a trial-by-fire apprenticeship at the Montreaux Palace Hotel in Switzerland. Jobs in Lyon, France and Milan, Italy followed, further honing his gourmet chops. At 22, he was running a restaurant at the Hilton in New Orleans, which was followed by similar positions at hotels in Orlando and Hawaii. By 28 he was the executive chef at the amazing Shangri-La in Beijing, then moving to the Shangri-La property in Bangkok. The association with Shangri-La, brought Goldstein back to Hong Kong (where the luxury chain is headquartered). Private chef and country club positions followed and he had his own Hong Kong restaurant by 2004. I had a chance to interview Chef Goldstein in his kitchen at Gold and learn about his philosophy of cooking and running a restaurant in Hong Kong.

Chef Goldstein has also recently embarked on an amazing personal journey as well, to health, having lost close to 90 pounds through exercise, diet and lifestyle changes. I met Harlan a year ago and to see the difference in his physical presence and attitude is both surprising and inspiring. He’s been working to inspire other Hong Kong chefs to also get healthy and hopefully will also share the story of his road to wellness with the world.

Harlan has just opened a delicious new venture and I can’t wait to try it. Harlan Goldstein’s Comfort also in Lan Kwai Fong (taking the place of Goldstein’s Strip House) features comfort food that the chef “likes to share with friends and family”. With initial seatings sold-out, the restaurant already has a hot buzz from Hong Kong’s foodie community.

Gold by Harlan Goldstein
Gold By Harlan Goldstein is located at 33 Wyndham Street on level two of the LKF Tower in Lan Kwai Fong, Hong Kong Central. The restaurant is open from noon to midnight, Monday through Saturday.

This is a reprint of my article which appeared on Yahoo! HERE.