Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Rech by Alain Ducasse (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★☆☆☆

We have all but stopped celebrating Valentine's Day after getting ripped off time after time for this very special day of the year. Like all my guy friends used to say, everyday is Valentine's Day so why pick a day to celebrate when you could have a nice romantic dinner on any given day of the year without paying a premium for it?

However, this year I've got a different reason to burn a hole in my wallet on Valentine's Day. 14th February will mark the opening of Rech, a new French restaurant which is set to replace Spoon by Alain Ducasse at the Intercontinental Hotel. This will remain an Alain Ducasse establishment as the concept was directly brought over from Paris, just that it'll be more of a seafood oriented casual diner rather than the old-school fine dining place we all came to enjoy over the years.

One of Spoon's early success can be attributed to its incredible harbour view but over the past decade, Hong Kong has seen its fair share of new restaurants with the same (if not better) jaw-dropping view so this has more or less become a non-factor now.

I have to say, I do miss Spoon a bit because it's a place I shared a lot of fond memories in and it's one where I celebrated a number of special occasions since its opening. So this all played a part in me choosing to come back here on Valentine's Day. And of course, this is the same hotel that we threw our wedding banquet some years ago making it ever so special to come back on this night.

When I first got the festive menu through my email, I wasn't particularly excited with what's on it, to be brutally honest. But since I have already decided to splurge on this day, I thought I might as well spend it on a brand new restaurant with this kind of pedigree.

After enjoying some seaweed crackers and country bread, dinner officially kicked off with the first of our five courses. Here we have gratinated oyster with champagne. I thought it's a bit old school to be serving oyster with cheese rather than something fruity or acidity these days but as long as it's tasty, I didn't really care.

I heard my neighbours raving about this first dish especially the "jewel box" presentation but I wasn't all that impressed myself. This was a decent dish but I thought there's a little too much acidity (presumably from the champagne) there for my liking.

Next up was wild red shrimps with gold caviar. They've put some gold foil on top to make it more premium. Now, this has been a problem all night long - our servers simply dropped off the dishes and read out the same description from the menu without specifically touching on the ingredients. I didn't know about the other diners but I wanted to know more about what I put into my mouth!

This was pretty tasty with the caviar matching well against the wild red shrimps. Serving on the side was some jelly which I thought was made with red shrimp consommé (our server didn't really touch on that!) and that was a welcome addition to the dish. All and all, it had to be the best dish of the night by a country mile.

Our fish course was fillet of sea bass, sea scallop and baby squid served with a mixed clams sauce. This was OK although I would much prefer the pan-roasted sea bass I had a couple of days ago at Le Pan for its firmer and richer texture.

Onto our main course we go. They made a slight mistake mixing up our beef. I was the one having it medium well while the lady would like it medium but they obviously jotted down the wrong notes.

Anyways, I'm running out of words to describe this dish so I would use "decent" once again. There was nothing sexy about it. The duck foie gras and black truffle were decent match with the beef but the results were very predictable.

At this point, we were just happy to get onto our dessert. We decided to pass on their famous Camembert cheese and standing between us and our lone dessert was our palate cleanser, confit and iced lemon, kombu seaweed. This turned out to be pretty good. 

Just when we were guessing what Mr and Mrs Rech (name of our dessert) would be, the brutal reality revealed that they were simply ice-cream sandwich, something along the line of what Elephant Grounds have been offering.

For guys, it's going to be Mr Rech which was hazelnut ice-cream, between a pair of cookies and finished with a hot chocolate sauce. The crushed hazelnut on the side gave it a slightly interesting bite (but nothing more).

For gals, it's coconut ice-cream, with the cookies and a warm strawberry sauce. Some shredded coconut on the side.

Finally, a freshly made madeleine to wrap it up.

This was certainly not the debut I was hoping for from RECH as I expected far better quality from their dishes. Same goes for their service as most of their staff here looked inexperienced and out of place. It's going to be a long while before I would consider coming back here again.

Food Rating: 4.5/10
Price: $$$$
Address: G/F InterContinental Hotel, 18 Salisbury Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Tsim Sha Tsui / Tsim Sha Tsui East
Tel: +852 2313-2323
Website: Link

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