August 12, 2022

Kong Hans gets every inch of its 2 stars. Traditional French cooking at a very high level, with some super creative flavors and deliveries.

The tone is set the minute you enter. Greeted by a welcoming and formal host who brings you by the kitchen. Even single chef stopped what they were doing and took a few steps towards me to say hello and welcome me in. As we moved towards the table, another server was already stationed behind the chair anticipating my arrival. Things like this always impress because they only happen with clear intention and planning. 

There were some odd and head-scratching service errors. In my first 20 minutes, silverware was dropped by servers in two separate instances, and a server struggled to put a cutting board on a stand - it kept falling through. Later on, what sounded like a sheet tray clanged to the ground in the kitchen. Strange missteps for a restaurant clearly on the higher end of service.

About half way through the meal, my still water was replaced with sparkling. (A regular miss, I'm finding.) I never point out the error. "I'm wondering if you wouldn't mind replacing my sparkling water for still." But even as I did that, the server didn't catch that it was their error, coming back with still water and quizically asking "You would like to continue with still water, then?" Another odd oversight for such a buttoned up restaurant.

The food was classic French, which as I get older, means "Oh my word, please stop bringing me more food!" It was all delicious, mind you. There is just so much of it! And it's heavy and rich. They have a cheese cart option and, aside from the fact that I had been awake for 30 straight hours at this point, there was no way I would ever have been able to get a cheese course into myself.

I can't fault a single dish. The cooking was extraordinary. A few plates really sung though. The new potato dish with beurre blanc, herbs and caviar was truly special. ("It's my favorite dish here" crooned the server.) And the strong eastern spiced jus that paired with the pigeon wellington (and traditional cherry/honey sweetness) was spectacular in both vision and execution. That dish made you sit up and take notice. 

Overall, the sauces were the standout. Tight, bright lemony beurre blanc. Rich soy/ginger emulsion. Saffron and cockle foam. Each one was better than the next.

In traditional French fashion, the desserts overwhelmed. As stuffed as you are, they heap a dizzying amount of sweets in your direction as if to say "We don't care that you're full. Here is WAY more..." It was glorious. They were all stellar, made by a California pastry chef who came from Manresa. She and I had a fun chat about our experiences there and she bolstered my decision to return for a 2nd visit in a few months.

If you enjoy high end French cuisine, Kong Hans in your place. Perhaps because I'm getting older, but I'm finding I enjoy a "less is more" approach to my meals. But that's just me. (If so, don't go to a French place, right?  :)  )

Solid 2 stars. A very worthy visit if you are in Copenhagen.

Opening amuse - Tomato Gazpacho "Kakigori"...
Traditionally a sweet dish (kakigori = shaved ice), served savory here...
Gazpacho gel underneath shaved tomato water. Creative and interesting start.
"We have a letter for you." It's the menu, presented complete with a stamped wax seal.
"Snacks" - a littany of dishes to usher you towards the meal...
Sea trout, eggs (roe), lime like a ceviche...
Tart with fresh peas, mint and lardo...
Quail egg, rossini caviar (black label). The egg white was solid hard boiled, but burst when in your mouth. What technique! Really excellent bite....
Mousee apricot, marjoram...
Frog legs, fried and then confit, turned into a croquet with mayo. Beautiful texture and balance. It could have used just a touch more seasoning or better yet citrus to make it pop...
Lobster beignet. Langostine, chipotle mayo, pico de gallo...
Corn Foam, baby sweet corn (crunchy, interesting offset to the truffle), Truffles, chanterelles, more truffles. Beautiful, warm, truffl-y finish
Gillardeau Oysters. Beautiful plating...
Oysters, oyster foam, white pickled asparagus, soy/lime/ginger emulsion with honey. One of the better pairings I've ever had. Wine was limestoney and rang at the same frequency as the soy/lime emulsion. Brilliant.
Danish new potatoes, beurre blanc, chervil, watercress, Rossini caviar. 3 star dish. Bright lemony beurre blanc lifting the potatoes, offset by the herby chervil and rich creamy caviar.
The preparation for the next dish: peas zucchini, fennel, pickled onions, red bell pepper...
Turbot (from the west coast of Denmark) cooked en papillote (in a paper wrapper - a technique designed to cook gently and keep all moisture inside)...
The skin was removed and the fish prepared in front of you...
Adding a foam of saffron and cockles...
The resulting, beautiful dish. Bright crunchy veg, earthy foam sauce (another texture too), offsetting the rich fish
Oxtail pasta with polenta, parmesan sauce, truffle sauce, truffles. An outstanding (and rich!) dish. Had I never had the oxtail pasta at Aimo and Nadia's, this would have been among the best I have ever had. Aimo and Nadia's ruined me for any other oxtail.
Pigeon wellington...
Preparing the pigeon...
Sliced in front of you. Fois gras and mushroom duxelle, cabbage. Those cherries are glazed in port wine and madeira...
Adding a jus made with cherry honey and a ton of spices...
The final dish. Incredible balance between really strong flavors. Uber sweet traditional jus elements (cherry, honey) counterbalanced by the fois gras and very NON-traditional spice notes (this Indian spice profile - cumin, allspice...). Definitely 3 stars.
Baked Alaska...
Coconut crumble, yuzu passion fruit meringue, finger lime (flesh and zest), olive oil
Strawberries flambe, my choice from 3 options on the dessert cart. (Yes, you could have had all 3 if you wanted.). Video of the flambe is next...
Pettit four. They were fantastic. And there were a LOT of them!!
The restaurant was stunning.
As was the simply and elegant table.

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