Sunday, June 5, 2016

Mercato by Jean Georges (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★☆☆

This week, Hong Kong welcomes Chef Jean Georges back with open arms in Lan Kwai Fong at the new California Tower. Having spent part of his career in Hong Kong, the world renowned French chef returns to open Mercato, a brand of vibrant Italian restaurant under his empire, which has seen a fair amount of success in Shanghai.

The restaurant has just opened for 4 days and really not a lot of people have heard of its soft opening yet. There's a bar area on one end.....

....while the open kitchen and a separate dining area (with a different color tone) on the other....

The 2 -course lunch set is going for $198 and we wasted no time getting ourselves ready starting with this spicy tuna tartare with black olive, cucumber, avocado and mint.

I was kind of expecting the same signature tuna tartare we have experienced both in Jean Georges New York and Tokyo but this was clearly a "trim down" version with a much less appealing presentation. 

Next we have the endive and sugar snap pea salad with parmesan dressing and herbs. It looked a little like a lettuce wrap with the little salad sitting in the middle of the leaf. Not bad although I did find the parmesean dressing a little too overpowering.

Our last starter was also the most successful one of the bunch - lightly fried calamari, spicy tomato sauce with black olive and capers. This was done like a Japanese tempura but the batter was a lot thinner with minimal seasoning. The texture was pretty nice. I like this one.

We had our first took at the restaurant's homemade pasta, a capellini with golden garlic, Jalapeños, herbs and fresh ricotta and it was fairly decent. Very nice eggy flavor from the capellini although personally I won't mind a little more Jalapeños to spice things up.

I saw this dish on almost every single ad they have in the city so I assume it's a signature dish then? I thought this was easily the best dish of the afternoon. The porcini crusted salmon sat on a nice bed of garden green while we poured a warm leek vinaigrette all over. The leek vinaigrette provided a pretty refreshing touch to the salmon, which was tender and velvety.

The last and least successful main dish was crispy skin chicken with lemon braised potatoes, golden onion, green chili and herbs. This has a lot of Asian inspirations judging from the ingredients and presentation and I thought there were certain improvement areas needed there.

We decided that we shouldn't leave without trying at least one dessert. Since mom wasn't feeling all that adventurous today, we settled with a more "down to earth" dessert - homemade mascarpone with strawberries and ginger granita. It was a very nice palate cleanser with the mascarpone and ginger granita leading the charge. A slightly stronger ginger flavor would probably make this even better!

A very good start to their soft-opening. I could see the staff all raring to go and I am looking forward to trying out their dinner menu in the very near future.

Food Rating: 5.5/10
Price: $$$
Address: 8/F, California Tower, 32 D’Aguilar Street, Central, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Central
Tel: +852 3706-8567

Post a Comment

Please tell us what you think