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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sonoma 焱

A good friend of mine recently came from Hong Kong to visit me. I asked him where he would like to go for dinner. He said a friend of his recommended that he try the steakhouse Sonoma 焱 because the friend believes the steaks at the restaurant are better than any of the steakhouses in Hong Kong. I was a bit surprised to hear that so I thought why not go and find out.

There are three branches of Sonoma and the one we went to is located on 敦化南路2段9號1樓. The restaurant is not large, roughly 70 some seats with an open kitchen at the back. There are a few menus to choose from, a la carte, 4 course prix fixe, and a wagyu tasting menu. My friend ordered a la carte: crab cakes, grilled wagyu strip steak, and chocolate dessert. I tried the wagyu tasting menu which costs NT$2800: lobster tail, mushroom cappuccino, salad, grilled wagyu strip steak, and chocolate dessert.

We were first served some warm bread, which was not bad with a decent crust. There were also some marinated olives on the table, but they were just way too sweet.

I didn't taste my friend's crab cakes, so I can't comment on that dish. My friend wanted the steak to be medium well (don't ask me why), but the steak arrived medium rare to medium. Maybe the chef was reluctant to cook a the nice piece of meat to medium well. Nevertheless, the steak was not cooked to the right temperature.

As for my dishes, the lobster dish had decent flavors, but the caviar on the lobster tail wasn't that good. The mushroom cappuccino reminded me of one of Gordon Ramsay's signature dishes: white bean cappuccino. Maybe it was the word cappuccino. In any event, I would have preferred the mushroom soup to be a bit creamier. It was a bit thin for my taste. Strangely the soup was served with a small spoon, almost like a coffee spoon, which made drinking the soup a bit tiresome. The salad was quite fresh, but I wished the dressing had a bit more acidity. My steak was nicely grilled and quite flavorful. It was a good piece of red meat, but it could have been seasoned more aggressively. I wasn't too keen on the sauce, which was a bit too reduced. The dessert at the end was a molten chocolate cake. This was essentially like Jean Georges signature dessert. Sonoma's version was executed well with good flavor. My only complaint is that the cake and the accompanying ice cream was pathetically small. I would think the restaurant can be a bit more generous with the portion of the dessert, considering the total price they are charging.

The service was quite good, my only quip is that since my friend and I had different number of courses, they could have brought out an empty plate for my friend when I was having the extra course, so he didn't have to stare at the table cloth and might have shared some of my courses.

Overall, the meal was decent. The ingredients were good and fresh. I asked my friend if Sonoma was indeed better than all the steakhouses in HK, he said no.

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