Delish Eats: Voynich, Luxe Old-time Charm Meets Neo-Fusion Chinese Cuisine
May 11, 2023
Restaurant story: Inspired by the exploits of the dangerous yet suave spy archetype of days yore (think James Bond and the Kingsman crew), Voynich is a dining concept bringing an immersive contemporary Cantonese cuisine experience to Tsim Sha Tsui’s Harbour City mall.
The dining space is shrouded behind a beautifully ornate roulette door that reveals an elegant environment, to match the accompanying outdoor terrace that’s been designed to evoke Turkish hot air balloons. Voynich is a place that impresses all your senses with a flair that’s at once stunning yet magnificently restrained.
What’s the vibe and venue like: Pushing past the secret doors and gliding through the baccarat-like bar area, the dining room feels like a dreamy jazz lounge blending the plushiest of modern luxuries with old-time charm. The restaurant is sectioned into a few themed spaces that each tie into the overarching theme of secret agents, with thoughtfully curated details in the form of loafers and black-tie accessories adorning the walls that wrap around sleek alcove seating and marble tabletops.
How much does it cost: Priced at HK$998 per person, we were each served our own portions of the same dishes.
What is the menu about: We tried an indulgent tasting menu that was specially curated for the evening to get a good feel of the concept’s signature palate in a six-course meal bookended with additional drinks. The overarching cuisine philosophy blends familiar Cantonese dishes with an elegant twist, through incorporating unconventional ingredient pairings and the team’s technical virtuosity.
What did we order: Holland Cherry Tomato Marinated with Osmanthus and Lychee Sauce, Baked Iberico Pork with Tangerine Peel and Pesto Sauce, Steamed Dumplings Scallop and Truffle Paste, Voynich Signature Soup, Baked Pepper Crab and Prawn, Sauteed Mushrooms and Vegetables in Cabbage Rolls, Fried Rice with Lobster Paste and Sea Urchin, Black Sesame Sweet Soup with Coconut Cream and Kumquat Cake, with additional Sexy Mama Mocktail (HK$78), St Flrue (HK$118).
(Appetizer Platter) Holland Cherry Tomato Marinated with Osmanthus and Lychee Sauce, Steamed Dumplings Scallop and Truffle Paste, Baked Iberico Pork with Tangerine Peel and Pesto Sauce: Sampled in order, we were initiated by the grape-like plumpness of the cherry tomato, enticed for the deliciousness to come, revelling in the lychee-tinged fragrance locked in the fruit’s bursting juices. The sweetness continues in the uniquely fused pesto that brings with it a sweet contrast to the solidly savoury slice of pork. The earthiness of the ‘chan pei’ tangerine peel comes out beautifully.
The dumpling that followed was one of the rare instances of truffle being added to an Asian dish which managed to work with – rather than against – the existing flavours of dumpling. Despite serving as a succulent vessel for the truffle paste, the scallop held its own thanks to its buxom al dente texture.
Voynich Signature Soup: Introduced as a recipe from the household of Sir. Tang Shiu-kin, this mesmerizing ambrosia immediately cemented itself in my mental hall of fame for standout lobster bisques. Without relying on cream or blending in thick ingredients to achieve a rich yet soothing flavour, the nourishing lightness of traditional Chinese soup was maintained thanks to the consommé technique used to glean the lobster’s umami essence. Sliced whelk adds a mouthful of bite, tasting elegantly supple and not at all fishy.
Baked Pepper Crab and Prawn: Described by our server as only carrying the ‘ma’ aspect of ‘mala’, the piquant kick of the gravy held a slightly floral undertone as opposed to an in-your-face knockout of spices. The well-endowed prawn was meaty and delectably showcased the crustacean’s freshness without being overpowered by the generous helping of sauce. Fried strips of sweet potato were a smart pairing, working as an accompaniment in the dish.
Sauteed Mushrooms and Vegetables in Cabbage Rolls: Starring as the only vegan dish in the line-up, the comforting yet refreshing rolls were served in a shallow pumpkin soup that offered sweet creaminess to complement the greens. A crunch from the fried shitake garnish gave the item a little edge, reminding us of the trendy twists Voynich leads with, as part of its take on Cantonese cuisine.
Fried Rice with Lobster Paste and Sea Urchin: The core experience of this dish was better enjoyed by my nose than my tongue, as the first impression I had of the dish was undeniably tied to the fragrance of uni that wafted over from the table. Perhaps because the item had come after the colourful tapestry of taste building the menu’s much more seasoning-laden options prior, the fried rice seemed to mellow in comparison.
(Dessert Platter) Black Sesame Sweet Soup with Coconut Cream and Kumquat Cake: The rich fattiness of the whipped coconut cream was definitively the most decadent portion of the meal, cutting through to give a luxurious, velvety mouthfeel against the soothing sesame. The touch of citrus I expected from the kumquat wasn’t particularly noticeable, with the inside consisting mostly of lotus seed mochi instead, though its cutesy shape was an amusing callback of the fruit.
What we liked: Thanks to adroit fusion cooking and top-notch ingredients, the menu showcased varied and multilayered dishes that carried with it an air of lightness without ever compromising on the side of flavour. Playing with tradition to offer adventurous interpretations of recognizable Cantonese dishes, the meal felt at once authentic and inventively chic. A great spot for shared meals with a plus-one or small groups, we loved the privacy of being whisked away into another world for the evening.
What we didn’t like: I would have preferred that the fried rice be smokier or show more ‘wok hei’ (translated to wok air, used to describe a unique caramelized aroma achieved through cooking with high heat on a wok) or to perhaps be served with a side of chilli oil.
What you should order: Steamed Dumplings Scallop and Truffle Paste, Baked Iberico Pork with Tangerine Peel and Pesto Sauce, Voynich Signature Soup, Baked Pepper Crab and Prawn, Sauteed Mushrooms and Vegetables in Cabbage Rolls, Black Sesame Sweet Soup with Coconut Cream.
Location: Voynich, 401, Level 4, Ocean Centre, Harbour City, Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
Contact details: +852 2688 2408
This food review is based on a complimentary media tasting provided by Voynich in exchange for a truthful review and no compensation. The opinions expressed within represent the views of the author.
Enjoyed this article? Check out our previous Delish Eats reviews here
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