Chef Justin Chan’s new culinary playground is where you can sample healthy dishes featuring hard-to-find ingredients such as watermelons half the size of your thumb.
Text and photos by Iris Wong
Nestled in the hipster neighbourhood of Tai Hang, J House Academy is as much of a restaurant as it is a space for culinary showcase and experimentation for chef Justin Chan. Propelling a healthier way of dining, just as he did at Naked Gurume Gyarari and Le Pho, the dietitian-turned-chef uses the freshest seasonal ingredients sourced from small business entrepreneurs and cooking techniques, which bring out natural flavours while retaining the nutrients, leaving us feeling satiated without a food coma.
Each restaurant has its own gimmick, and for J House, it’s their use of unusual raw ingredients. On the day of the tasting, the mini watermelons and micro tomatoes paired with roasted pumpkin seeds and dressed with macadamia honey was easily the most memorable dish. The mini watermelon, bearing the appearance of a grape-sized watermelon but tasted like cucumber, was the perfect palate cleanser, while the micro tomatoes from Okinawa added a pleasant sweet acidity to the dish.
Harvested by fishermen braving crashing waves and cutting them from rocks on jagged cliffs, goose barnacles are a rare find in Hong Kong. The alien-looking crustaceans were prepared minimally here: cooked for seven minutes, the dish was then seasoned with only shiso vinaigrette, sea salt and lemon, as this Portuguese delicacy should be enjoyed as is. The sweet flesh had a fresh, briny taste that was nicely complemented by Chan’s choice of shiso instead of parsley.
A nine-course meal comes to $1,000, which, even just considering the rarity and quality of ingredients, is hardly expensive. The menu changes seasonally, and we are excited to see what Chan comes up with next.
J House Academy
G/F 8 Ormsby Street, Tai Hang
Tel: 5402 1834