Over six months ago, I noticed a huge board on Hollywood Road announcing the opening of NUR. All it said was “nourishing gastronomy”, the vagueness of which kept me intrigued and wondering what exactly was due to open there and when. NUR has now finally opened, except it’s not on Hollywood Road at all, but has taken over the space on Lyndhurst Terrace that was once Hyde.
The name stems from that of Head Chef Nurdin Topham, a British chef with almost 20 years’ experience gained working with Raymond Blanc as well as at the second best restaurant in the world, NOMA. ‘Nur’ also means ‘light’ in Arabic, which is exactly what the food is; although there are around seven to 10 courses (depending which menu you choose), each dish is fresh and light, created with local, seasonal ingredients that leave you feeling satisfied without feeling uncomfortably full. This, it turns out, is exactly what “nourishing gastronomy” is all about. It combines the best culinary techniques with nutritional science and research, to present responsible food that is both delicious and healthy.
The space, designed by J. Candice Interior Architects and NUR’s lovely creative director Salma Gaj, is gorgeous. It is casual, yet elegant, with a huge open kitchen, comfortable seating, eye-catching photographs by Stylo Vision and a vivid mural by Lachlan Thom that reflects the essence of the NUR dining experience. My favourite part of the restaurant is the beautiful balcony, surrounded by luscious greenery (most of which is actually edible) that seats only one single table.
There is the choice of either the “Light” menu ($788 per person) or the “Feast” ($988 per person), as well as an entirely vegetarian menu too. We tried the “Light” menu, which still consisted of seven courses! Although the food is in parts inspired by Nordic tradition, the end results are entirely unique to NUR, created over six months of experimentation and development.
The first of our seven courses was a shared platter of Beetroot, Carrot and Cucumber – tiny beetroot and watercress tacos, slow-cooked carrots with home-cultured cream and cumin, and cucumber and pear pickled in jasmine kombucha, served with a shot of kombucha. Each of these were incredibly creative, yet the flavours were simple and fresh and gave us a clear insight into the sort of level we could expect for the rest of the meal.
To follow came a Gillardeau Oyster, gently warmed in its own juices, served with a delicate cucumber and wasabi foam and buttery cucumber pearls. As I’ve mentioned before, oysters are something I appreciate but don’t get overly excited about; these oysters, however, tickled with that satisfying wasabi kick, were definitely something to get excited about.
The Salmon, which was clearly Nordic-inspired, was easily my favourite dish of the night. The lightly poached fish came topped with crispy toasted rice and served alongside slow-cooked beetroot, candy-striped (or Chioggia) beets, and yellow plum, with a dollop of home-smoked cultured cream and dill oil. It was melt-in-the-mouth stuff that I ate as slowly as I could for fear of it ending too quickly.
Our friendly waiter proudly announced that the following course – Salad – contained over 22 ingredients. A salad, to me, needs to have more than just lettuce to be remotely appealing; this one contained excitement in every mouthful, as I came across ingredients such as coriander blossom and specks of truffle that kept my attention far longer than any salad has before. I also loved that we were given a set of chopsticks with which to eat it.
Perhaps the dish for which NUR is best known is the Egg. Here, a slow-poached Taiyouran egg sat atop a bed of mixed grain mushroom ‘porridge’, with roasted shitake mushrooms and a garlic and chive emulsion. The egg yolk was an intense orange colour and had a much richer flavour than your average egg, which paired nicely with the ‘porridge’. Alone, the shitake mushroom was a little on the salty side, but went well with the other ingredients. Served alongside the egg came a basket of home-baked mixed grain sourdough (in my case rye bread) with mushroom butter, perfect for mopping up the runny yolk.
The first and only meaty course of the night was the Chicken with romanesco cauliflower. This consisted of slow-poached and roasted chicken thigh stuffed with chicken breast, encased in chicken skin. It was tasty, but far too salty. Yet even before any of us complained about this, the chef, clearly aware of his mistake, sent his apologies to the table, a gesture that added to the already fantastic service.
For dessert, whilst the rest of the table enjoyed a bitter chocolate and orange sorbet, the chef prepared something especially for me that was free from wheat and chocolate. If all other dishes went by one-word names, I shall call my special creation Custard. This beautiful dish consisted of burnt carrot custard, baby carrots, compressed mandarin, chamomile tea gel and crumbled almonds. It was a faultless creation that was comforting without being too sweet, and I seriously hope it one day makes it onto the actual menu, as it really deserves to.
My meal at NUR was definitely a special one. Due to the nature of the concept and Chef Nurdin’s approach to developing food, NUR’s is a story that will continue to evolve as the seasons change and the chefs get to know Hong Kong’s edible landscape. I look forward to tasting the next chapter in this story.
3/F, Lyndhurst Tower
1 Lyndhurst Terrace
Tel: +852 2871 9993