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  • Writer's pictureFaye Bradley

Embla Brings Exquisite Nordic Fine Dining to Hong Kong | Restaurant Review


CSP Times visits Hong Kong's top Nordic fine dining establishment to get a taste of world-class contemporary Scandinavian cuisine and tipples on Upper Station Street, Sheung Wan.

All images courtesy of Adam Thompson | CSP Times.

Nordic restaurants in Hong Kong are few and far between, with just a handful of them worthy of mention, easily counted on one hand.

Embla, spearheaded by Jim Löfdahl, who honed his skills under the tutelage of legendary chef Björn Frantzén and has over 25 years of culinary training, burst onto the Hong Kong dining scene in 2022.

I must confess, I have only tried a couple of Nordic restaurants in my time, having access to so few options in the city.

New Nordic Cuisine, internationally led by chefs like René Redzepi, prioritises seasonal, locally-sourced ingredients and innovative techniques. Dishes, ranging from foraged forest finds to reinvented classics, reflect a deep respect for nature and Nordic heritage, offering diners a unique culinary journey.

For those acquainted with New Nordic cuisine in Hong Kong, the beloved Frantzén's Kitchen, once helmed by Stockholm-born chef Löfdahl, may ring a bell. Löfdahl, who previously led the kitchen at Frantzén/Lindeberg in Stockholm, played a pivotal role in earning the restaurant its first Michelin star in 2009, followed by a second in 2010.

Embla draws its name from Norse mythology, and the name also honors Chef Jim's first-born daughter, lending a personal touch to this passion project.

Entering Embla on a Friday night after a busy week, we're met with dim, inviting interiors, awash in a navy blue colour scheme that nods to the restaurant's Nordic origins.

Here to savour Embla's Spring 2024 menu, we're treated to a selection of the restaurant's signature dishes alongside seasonal specialties. Priced at HK$1,588 per person, the eight-course menu showcases a variety of seasonal delights. Opting for the wine pairing, which includes options of international or Nordic wines (or both, like us), costs an extra HK$1,388 per person.

We start with the iconic Swedish treat, 'Cubbröra' or 'Gentleman's Delight', reinterpreted with sophistication at Embla. This dish, at a supplementary HK$850 charge, is typically a light snack. This one features a mix of smoked eel, pickled herring, eggs, dill, chives, and crisp bread, accompanied by a shot of Gustav Dill Vodka.

Our evening commenced with a delightful array of libations: a glass of Dom Perignon vintage 2013 champagne, boasting vibrant notes of citrus and stone fruit, and Sav, a sparkling birch sap wine from Sweden, offering a crisp and refreshing taste perfectly suited for spring.

Accompanying these beverages were Nordic snacks crafted with precision. We indulged in two distinct offerings: shrimp washed in Swedish wine, poached at 40 degrees for one hour, finished with Boudoir caviar, delivering a symphony of flavours with each bite, and the delightful "æbleskiver" – Danish pancake spheres filled with smoked trout and emulsion with chive, offering a harmonious balance of smokiness and herbaceous freshness, each enjoyed in one bite.

Continuing our meal, we had the yellowtail "Gravlax" with green radish (extra HK$200 per person), served with Kalix vendace roe, apple, and elderflower. Chef highlighted the rarity of the vendace roe, sourced exclusively from Kalix, where access is limited to 35 boats during the season.

For our next course, our sommelier recommended the German AYL, Premier Cru - a dry marvel from the filet of the Ayler Scheidterberg. Hailing from a sheltered southern exposure of the mountain, it ripens long into late autumn, capturing the essence of its terroir in every sip.

Paired with this German gem is a Danish organic wine, Vexebo Vin’s Solaris 2021, an unfiltered orange wine with natural sediments.

The next dish comprised of green asparagus, morel mushroom, green pea purée, toasted sunflower seeds, and an unripe juniper sauce.

The green asparagus, tender yet crisp, offered a refreshing crunch with a hint of earthiness, while the morel mushrooms added a deep, nutty flavour. As we tuck into the green pea purée, a burst of sweetness floods your palate, complemented by a velvety smoothness that coats the tongue.

Meanwhile, the toasted sunflower seeds provided a delightful crunch, lending a subtle nuttiness to the ensemble.

Embla's crowd-favourite, the sour milk bread, arrives, nodding to the Nordic baking tradition. Made with Filmjölk, a Swedish fermented milk product, it boasted a tangy profile complemented by house-cultured butter infused with the same. Seasoned with sea salt, each bite strikes a delicate balance. Alongside, a beer-infused bread added a bitter note, creating a robust contrast.

We're informed that butter holds a special place as a delicacy in Scandinavian culture, with its roots tracing back to the era of the Vikings. Legend has it that during their long boat voyages, Vikings would wrap butter in seaweed, as it was one of the few foods that could withstand the journey without spoiling. 

Next, our glasses are filled with the Grand Vin de Bourgogne’s Chassagne Montrachet from Burgundy, enchanting the palate with hints of honey and ripe pear. Alongside, a Swedish counterpart: Kullabergs Vingård’s Askesäng, offering a buttery, oaky profile.

The next dish is the poached brill, its texture sublime and flavour buttery, harmonising seamlessly with the solaris butter sauce. Each bite celebrates the arrival of spring, as the tender white asparagus, in season around April, adds a fresh, verdant note to the dish.

Diners can choose between the aged duck, spring carrots, orange and sea buckthorn sauce or the Wagyu “A5” striploin (additional HK$300) with pickled burdock, trout roe, charred eggplant purée perfumed with oyster & sesame vinaigrette for mains.

Pairing perfectly with the aged duck is Gervey-Chamertin’s Aux Etelois 2017 wine, boasting delightful hints of cherry and raspberry. Meanwhile, the Wagyu “A5” striploin finds its ideal companion in the ​​VINCENT PARIS, GRANIT 30 CORNAS 2021

The duck, we’re informed, is prepared in the style of Peking duck, a culinary tradition revered for its meticulous preparation. Beginning with an Italian duck, aged dry for 7 to 10 days, the bird undergoes a transformative process. First, it is carefully torched to remove excess fat, ensuring a perfect balance of crispiness and succulence. Then, a glaze of maple syrup from Sweden is applied, imparting a delicate sweetness to the exterior. The result is a masterpiece of culinary craftsmanship: a duck with impeccably crisp skin, yielding to reveal tender, aromatic meat.

The Wagyu, meanwhile, is also an indulgent delight, with a buttery richness and beautiful marbling of fat that truly melts in your mouth.

From Copenhagen's Aquavit, sourced through suppliers Aqua Nordics in Hong Kong, to the fruity Likö crowberry arctic wild berry liqueur from Sweden, guests are certainly spoiled for choice when it comes to beverages.

We tried both ahead of dessert, a rapeseed oil sorbet with poached rhubarb, meringue, violet, vanilla and rose mousse, which tasted light and delicious, together with the freshly baked Fika-inspired petits fours.

To cap off the evening, we enjoy a selection of whiskies, including the Mackmyra Svensk Ek single malt from Sweden and the Hven rye whisky, both personally recommended by Chef Löfdahl. The Mackmyra offers a smooth, complex flavor, while the Hven rye whisky, crafted on a small Swedish island, impresses in taste and as the world's smallest pot-still distillery product.

We thoroughly enjoy exploring various cuisines and wines, and Embla has become a favourite destination for indulging in the most exquisite Nordic offerings. It's evident that Embla stands out not only in Hong Kong's Nordic dining scene but also in its broader fine dining landscape. While the dinner menu may be priced at HK$1,588, there's also a lunch option available at HK$888 per person.

Address: 11 Upper Station Street Hong Kong, Hong Kong | Website: | Phone: +852 2559 8508 | Email: | Instagram: @emblahk | Facebook: @emblahk | Twitter: @restaurantembla

This review was based on a complimentary tasting. All opinions are based on the writer's personal experience. All images are courtesy of CSP Times and are not to be used without written permission.


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