Test Kitchen x Backyard Pop-Up

by: Roseanne Lau
13 Mar 2019

Last week, chef Daniel Kedan and pastry chef Marianna Gardenhire brought a taste of their Backyard to Hong Kong’s Test Kitchen for four nights. Their comforting farm-to-table approach to sustainable dining has won this husband and wife duo the Michelin Bib Gourmand award every year since their opening in 2012.  

In California, 90% of their produce is sourced from their homebase of Sonoma County; in Hong Kong’s Test Kitchen edition, it was an east-meets-west ingredient list. Upon disembarking on Hong Kong soil, Daniel wasted no time to make two critical stops: first to Zen Organic Farm (a 250,000 square foot farm located right above Fanling) and then to the Wan Chai wet market. All veg and produce on the 11-course menu was sourced by his truly, even going so far as to personally hand pick carrots that made an appearance in his Buttermilk Fried Chicken Slider.

Relying on local sources has its benefits; while it’s far from strawberry season on the West Coast, the ripe strawberries here inspired the strawberry mustard in the pigeon entrée.

The four curated wine pairings from Sonoma Valley wine country served as the menu’s subtle backdrop, and just wouldn’t be the same replaced by a local source in Hong Kong. The first pairing, a light bodied pinot noir, is the same wine used to flavour their house salami, bringing out the notes of the charcuterie platter beautifully. Another notable choice was the Syrah red served with the Curry Spiced Sea Bream; the fresh and tart flavours produced by the valley’s dry climate balanced the carrot soup’s natural sweet taste.

The Matzoh Ball Soup is an homage to Daniel’s Jewish upbringing, a dish that he dubs as the cure-all to everything. True to his roots, he’s even served a special Hanukkah menu featuring three types of potatoes (and plenty of latkes) at the Forestville restaurant in the past. On the cool rainy evening that we visited, the steamy chicken and mushroom broth warmed our bellies and hearts.
Our favourite course was the off-menu shellfish dish. Upon tasting ‘lap cheong’ for the first time (which he delicately labelled ‘Chinese charcuterie’) and seeing fresh clams at the wet market, he decided to create a dish that marries the two in a delicious briny broth. Moments like a relatable reference to familial roots, a spontaneous addition to the menu and the hands-on way prepares the plates reveals Daniel’s joy in sharing his passion with his customers.
We love that Daniel is as proud of his Californian wines and charcuterie as he is eager to experiment with Hong Kong’s local offerings. Test Kitchen x Backyard pop-up was a refined yet relaxed dining experience that felt like a special dinner party at your trendy friend’s swish flat. Shop 3 Kwan Yick Building Phase 3, 158A Connaught Rd W, Sai Ying Pun, 9032 7628;