Thursday, December 31, 2015

Amber (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★★★

It's been an up and down year for me with a lot of stuff going on and because of that, I didn't get the chance to travel as much as I would like. With 2016 in the horizon, I certainly hope things will start to look up again. In trying to end 2015 on a high note, I decided to have a good meal on New Year's Eve and what better way to do so than Chef Richard Ekkebus's Amber which has been one of the toughest tables to book in recent years.

We all went for the sets and first up, some really nice nibbles to warm our palates up. It started with a deep fried mushroom ball infused with black currant and mustard seed and then a spiced pumpkin chip in the shape of a leaf.

That was followed by a porcini mushroom macaron with pumpkin filling in the middle wrapping up a very enjoyable set of amuse bouche for us.

We all had a little trouble picking out what we wanted for appetizer because there were so many good choices. Firstly, there's this "wild duck colvert" which looked like a pie with 
foie gras pate, duck meat, duck consommé jelly and Sicilian pistachio in the middle. It was served with some spiced mango chutney. What a marvelous dish that was with all the different flavors and textures harmonizing each other perfectly! 

I went with the house specialty, Hokkaido sea urchin dish. It was a no-brainer with me, especially after hearing whispers that it might be permanently removed from the menu at some point in 2016. Would be very sad if it does, since it's been an iconic dish here for nearly a decade and has quietly been symbolic with Amber since it's on almost every magazine or TV show whenever they talked about this coveted restaurant.

Fresh Hokkaido sea urchin, lobster jelly, cauliflower cream and caviar. Simply sit down, relax and enjoy the ride.

As per usual, it was nice to have it with the crispy seaweed waffle.

Main courses were a little more difficult to pick out coz I didn't like fishes. First up was the lamb ribs braised with pinot noir and served with savory boulangere potatoes with taggiasche olives, tomato confit and mizuna leaves. The lamb was really tender and nice although a little high on fat content. Nevertheless a solid dish without a question.

I had the French pigeon myself. The pigeon breast was pan roasted to perfection and served with the pigeon leg sandwiched inside layers of sesame and cereal. It was nicely complemented by poached beetroot, a beetroot purée which tasted like it's been smoked or spiced, Japanese radish and some pigeon jus was added for good measures. That was another brilliant dish from the talented kitchen. 

While we waited for our dessert, we were offered a little pre-dessert to freshen ourselves up.

If our appetizer and main course were any indication of how good dessert would be, then we were certainly in for a treat. Our first dessert was William pear which was poached in fragrant spiced shinaz red wine and then served with a black currant sorbet and extra virgin olive oil "pearls". That was very refreshing.

Equally sensational was the pineapple confit that was matched with grilled mille feuille, "grand cru" madagascar vanilla cream licorice, lime and yoghurt mousse and exotic fruit sorbet. A perfect pair of desserts ending this magnificent meal in style.

Amber has always been considered one of the best fine dining restaurants in Hong Kong, but to me, it's THE best. So, I am still thinking.....where's that third star? (In my opinion, the biggest snub in the Michelin guide.)

Food Rating: 9/10
Price: $$$$
Address: 7/F, The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, 15 Queen's Road, Central, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Central
Tel: +852 2132-0066
S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants: 38th (2015)
S. Pellegrino Asia's 50 Best Restaurants: 6th (2015)

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