25/F, The Mandarin Oriental Hotel
5 Connaught Road, Central,
Hong Kong, China
Tel. +852 2825 4001
Food type: French
Food rating: 6/10
Nearest tube: Central
It is nice to be back in England with the dreary weather and terrible air. I have honestly not seen the sun come out since I have been back. It’s certain good times. I do apologize once again for being slow to update my blog. Since being back I have been busy playing badminton, no doubt trying to get up my match sharpness before the new season kicks off. Anyways, here is my review of Pierre Gagnaire’s restaurant in Hong Kong. We visited Pierre to celebrate my mom’s 50th birthday.
Located on the 25th Floor of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel (incidentally the same one where Leslie Cheung decided to play his April’s fool joke), the restaurant provides a beautiful view of Kowloon island although this was somewhat marred by the haze on the day. The menu was interesting affair to go through with a 5 or 8 course tasting menu plus 5 choices each for Starters and Mains from the ala carte menu. Unlike dining at other restaurants, each dish actually consists of several different smaller dishes making for an interesting dining experience.
Canapes: Sour Cream & Onion Tart; Assorted Nuts; Tandoori Crisp with Anchovy Puree and Ham, Caramelised Eel
We were presented with a small plate of canapes while perusing the menu. This consisted of a Sour Cream & Onion Tart, Assorted Nuts, Tandoori Crisp with Anchovy Puree and Ham, Caramelised Eel which were pleasant although unspectacular. Of these, my favourite was perhaps the Sour Cream & Onion Tartlet which had the right amount of acidity to balance out the richness of the pastry. (5/10)
Each person was presented with 3 types of bread – Sourdough, Wholegrain and a mini Brioche. Bread was of high quality – the brioche was lovely and fluffy while the sourdough and wholegrain had a good crust to it. (6/10)
Chaud-froid de sole au champagne, feuille d’abricot. Matignon de haricots verts, pommes vertes et concombres
The first course of the tasting menu was a Chaud-Froid of Swordfish and Champagne with Apricot ‘Leaf’, Apple and Apricot salad and cucumber Foam. For those who are unaware, a Chaud-Froid is akin to the aspic (gelatinous) layer of a terrine except that cream is added to it. This dish was definitely a light and refreshing starter. I particularly appreciated the use of cucumber (a vegetable which like cauliflower seems to be underused) in this dish. The swordfish offered a nice meaty texture to the terrine while having a delicate and subtle flavour. The apples and apricot salad provided the necessary acidity and sweetness for the dish. Don’t know what the apricot leaf achieved in this dish though. (6/10)
Poêlée de grenouilles au persil simple ; gousses d’ail et beurre de cuisson au colombo, pousses d’épinard. Crème prise de roquette, onctueux de citron
My favourite dish of the night was a dish of Frog’s leg cooked with parsley and served with a spinach and Colombo spice sauce. Keeping with the theme of the restaurant, this wasn’t the only component of the dish as it was also accompanied by a rocket custard and lemon drink to cleanse the palate. Often times, I find that frog’s legs can be rather stringy and chewy when incorrectly cooked. This was certainly not the case here and is an exemplary example of how best to cook frog’s leg as it remained moist and soft. This was accompanied by a complex sauce made from Colombo spice with hints of saffron and abundant use of butter (well duh its a butter sauce after all) which I greedily mopped up with the bread provided. (7/10) The rocket custard was pleasant although I did not think much of it.
Roasted Lobster Tail with Ginger Butter, Butternut Squash, Passion Fruit and Almond Flakes
The fish course was a Roasted Brittany Lobster Tail with Ginger Butter, Butternut Squash, Passion Fruit and Almond Flakes. The lobster was correctly cook (again a common problem with lobster is that overcooking results in it being tough and rubbery). However, this dish did not work for me. The use of passion fruit completely overwhelmed the sweetness of the butternut squash. Additionally, the passion fruit required a touch more sugar as it was too tart when taking the overall balance of the dish into consideration. (4/10)
Chicken Caesar Salad
The staff were very attentive and noted that my mom was not eating well. My mom is not used to food which heavy in butter and cream but the staff were more than happy to substitute her lobster with a Chicken Caesar Salad. Nice touch!
Crépinette d’agneau au vadouvan ; poivrons rouges et aubergines grillées-confits. Timbale de pochas. Jus froid de roquefort, légumes racines croquants
The main course was a Saddle of Lamb wrapped in a ‘Crepe’ with Borlotti Beans, Carrots and Radish. The ‘crepe’ was actually made of the pork intestine analogous of a sausage skin. Accompanying the lamb was the vadouvan which is a mixture of Indian spices including curry leaves, fenugreek, mustard seeds and garlic. Despite the use of such powerful spices, they did not at any point overwhelm the lamb (although doing so would be hard as lamb can take on very strong flavours). The lamb was cooked correctly – pink. It was served on a bed of Borlotti Beans, Carrots and Radish with the cooking jus which again made good mopping up with bread. In keeping with the complexity of the meal, the lamb was served with a Confit of Aubergine and Red Pepper with a Potato ‘crisp’ sitting on top as well as a Lamb Jus Consomme with a layer of Roquefort. I actually like the lamb jus consomme which was intense and packed full of flavour. (6/10)
Les desserts de Pierre Gagnaire
Desserts rolled along and we were presented with not one, not two but FIVE desserts. The Basil Sorbet with Raspberries and Rocket was pleasant with a slight aniseedy flavour accompanying the peppery rocket and tartness of the raspberries. The Apricot ‘Balls’ and Jelly with Apricot Pieces and Meringue is worth a mention from a technical point of view. Here, individual balls are injected with apricot juice resulting in apricot balls resembling that of Salmon Roe (Ikura). The other desserts were a Milk jelly, Pineapple Sorbet, Pineapple Jelly; Chantilly cream with peach juice and a Almond and Dark Chocolate ‘Truffle’, Milk Chocolate Jelly with Praline Wafer, Chocolate Sauce. The desserts were overall good although unspectacular. (5/10)
Overall the food here was of good quality although rather disappointing considering the immense reputation of Pierre Gagnaire, who after all has a 3* restaurant in France as well as a 1* restaurant in London (Sketch). While the dishes were all inventive and interesting, at times it is too adventurous for its own good, complicating what would otherwise be an outstanding dish. (e.g. the addition of rocket custard seems misplaced to me). While the tasting menu provided a wide variety of different tastes, textures and temperatures within the meal and within an individual course my mom in particular found the overuse of butter in the courses a bit too overwhelming for her. (I on the other hand love butter…. butter = taste).
Of special mention was the impeccable service here. (Service = 10/10 and puts a lot of fine-dining restaurants in London to shame). They were very helpful in explaining the menu, guiding us through the different tastes and textures of each dish and were very observant and noticed that my mom wasn’t eating well throughout the dinner (she was ill). Another small touch was the gift of some very good cakes as a token gift to my mom for her birthday. Dinner for 4 including wine tasting (very good and interesting selections I must add) came up to HK$7,700.
… Oh well… you only turn 50 once!