Chef Luis Pop-up Dinner Series

 

 Chef Luis Aguilar                                                

At its source, real Mexican cuisine is one of the world’s most vibrant, exciting and delicious dining experiences. For the first time, the true tastes, culture and ingredients from the Yucatan Peninsula are hitting Hong Kong as Chef Luis Aguilar brings his award-winning Mexican dishes all the way from the hipster haven of Tulum on the Caribbean coast.

Test Kitchen’s next pop-up combines relaxed family-style dinners, exactly as happens in Mexico, along with a weekend taqueria-style lunch.

Aguilar worked as a chef around the world, from New York to Spain, the Bahamas to New Zealand, before returning home and setting up Safari, his relaxed, funky upscale taqueria nestled in the jungle on Tulum’s beach road, where most of the cooking takes place in a genuine 1971 Airstream ‘Safari’ trailer which gives the restaurant its name – Safari.

As he explains, he couldn’t be more excited at the Test Kitchen pop-up:

“Mexico has never figured more prominently on the global food map and NOMA has just wrapped its residency a few hundred yards down the road from Safari, my restaurant in Tulum. I’m so happy to be bringing the flavors and culture from home here to the magnificent city of Hong Kong. You’re going to love it.”

This isn’t degustation-style dining like many Test Kitchen pop-ups, but more ‘campfire food’ as Luis describes it. The tortillas are handmade fresh, daily, with Mexican produce, while the chiles are really important, the base for most of what is serve. But don’t expect the food to be ‘hot’ – it’s balanced, fresh and most of all delicious. Given the cuisine, the evening pop-up will feature drinks including Margaritas, Mescals and Craft Beers from Mexico, rather than wine pairings.

Dinner Tasting Menu

Aperitivo

Callo de hacha – sea scallop ceviche, avocado, cilantro sprouts, tostadas

Esquites – Corn, cheese, guajillo mayo

Para Compartir

Prawns on mole verde

Duck taco dorado, papaya chutney, salsa de chile

Soft shell crab on dry chile bean dip

Tacos (all hand-made tortillas)

Lengua – Steamed beef tongue, onion, cilantro, salsa roja, hand-made tortilla

Pescado – ala plancha fish fillet, passion fruit mayo, pickled cabbage, beetroot tortilla

Lechon – Roasted suckling pig, salsa verde, radish/cucumber pico, chicharron, corn tortilla

Sope de Mole – wild mushrooms in mole, thick tortilla 

En la mesa

Pickled vegetables – Escabeche

Salsa Madre chile habanero & chile arbor

Roasted tomatoes, cilantro salsa

Rice & beans 

Dulce

Tamal de chocolate/cacao

Margaritas, Mescals, Mexican Craft beers and more

 

5 course Taqueria Style Weekend Lunch Menu

(only on Saturday & Sunday)

Esquites – Corn in a cup, cheese, guajillo mayo.

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Prawns on mole verde

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Barbacoa – Lamb cooked on banana leafs, pickled red onion, cilantro, salsa roja, corn tortilla.

Lechon – Roasted suckling pig, salsa verde, radish/cucumber pico, chicharron, corn tortilla

Pescado – ala plancha fish fillet, passion fruit mayo, pickled cabbage, beetroot tortilla.

Duck taco dorado, papaya chutney, salsa de chile

(Choice of 2 tacos)

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Roasted tomatoes, cilantro salsa

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Tamal de chocolate/cacao

Mexican Craft beer

Vincent Mui, founder and owner of Test Kitchen, is hugely excited at Luis’ impending visit: “As with many people, for me Mexican cuisine is an absolute favourite and takes me back to taco trucks late night in NYC, but too often it’s an embarrassing approximation of what is really eaten at the source. Luis is going to change all that here in our home of Hong Kong with his pop-up. The ingredients, recipes and execution will be the real deal!  For the first time we are also opening for two relaxed taqueria-style lunches, as well as our traditional tasting menus in the evening to showcase what Luis and his team at Safari have up their sleeves!  All in all, it will make for a brilliant Mexican dining week for our guests in Hong Kong.”

About the chef:

Luis Aguilar

Luis Aguilar was born in Durango in Northwest Mexico between the Pacific Ocean and the Sierra Occidental.

After high school, he moved to Vancouver for an English degree where he got his first kitchen job as a dishwasher. He immediately got hooked into the kitchen rush, observing the cooks, smelling the garlic frying with olive oil, how that “organized chaos” had a place.

 

He then enrolled in culinary school in Austin, Texas, at the renowned Le Cordon Bleu program. He was first hired at The Hilton in downtown Austin but his curiosity soon took him to Europe, namely Valencia in Spain.

Thereafter it was to The Bahamas and Miami before a move to Playa del Carmen and 3 years at Ula Gula Restaurant, where Chef Fran del Piero was his mentor.

Then it was a year’s working holiday in New Zealand, learning about wine, before he ended up in Australia at Sydney’s Rojo Rocket Mexican Cuisine.

He joined Tacombi group in New York in 2012, playing a very important roll in the culinary program and growing the group from one to four locations.

One cold winter, he took a quick trip back home from NY to the palm beaches, turquoise water and jungle of Tulum – somewhere he realised would become his home again.

In 2015 he started Safari after finding a vintage 1971 Airstream which became “the kitchen” of his own restaurant.


An Evening with chef Luis from Safari, Tulum