Sumptuous Weekend Wine Brunch @ Amber Landmark Mandarin Oriental on 4Apr2015

#2 whole abalone with braised oxtail sauce

#2 whole abalone with braised oxtail sauce

wife booked 3pax weekend wine brunch at amber at landmark mandarin oriental on 4.4.2015.^^

amber has 2 michelin stars 6 years in a row & is the no.4 in asia & no.24 in pellegrino’s world’s top 50 restaurants.

this 1 of the places you have to leave credit card details and will be charged in full if you cancel within 48hrs. i am not sure if it is a new practice but we booked 2pax degustation dinner at joel robuchon maybe 4yrs ago & did not have to do that. & we had been to caprice at four seasons, and pierre at the other mandarin oriental and did not have to do that.

anyway we were happy to try out this place, and our faith were more than rewarded. this was simply the best meal we had in hong kong, not comparing joel robuchon’s degus dinner which cost more than twice this lunch.

baguette, olive & onion bread

baguette, olive & onion bread

after a very pleasant morning stroll along the peak circle walk taking in the hong kong skyline, we took a cab form the peak to landmark mandarin oriental which only cost us hk$55.

we started with a nice champagne.

the baguette and olive & onion bread from the bread basket were warm & very good, with both salted & unsalted butter.

6-course weekend wine brunch with 4 paragons of wine (champagne, 2 whites, 1 red)

6-course weekend wine brunch with 4 paragons of wine (champagne, 2 whites, 1 red)

weekend wine brunch was a 6-course (though that included cheese & 2 desserts) with selection of 4 wines at hk$888.

we found out that it was really an excellent deal even c/w weekday set lunches w/o the wine. so it was an excellent decision & wonderful lunch.

 foie gras lollipop

foie gras lollipop

squidink pita

squidink pita

squidink pita

squidink pita

we had 2 amuse bouche. both were good.

the foie gras lollipop in raspberry jelly had beetroot on one side & some crackers? on the other.

the squid ink pita was better, can’t remember maybe it was some cheese, anyway just remembered it was savoury & nice.^^

#1 foie gras terrine with suckling pig - very good

#1 foie gras terrine with suckling pig – very good

#1 foie gras terrine with suckling pig - very good

#1 foie gras terrine with suckling pig – very good

1st course was served with a riesling which i liked best of the 2 whites & champagne. all were nice anyway.

my son & i picked the foie gras terrine with suckling pig (interleaved) as our first course. it was very good, very flavourful & substantial.

#1 hokkaido sea urchin with caviar

#1 hokkaido sea urchin with caviar

wife picked the hokkaido sea urchin in lobster jelly with caviar topped with a gold leaf (which came with a hk$260 supplement). uni was sublime of course but the S$46+ supplement made no sense to us.

#1 hokkaido sea urchin with caviar

#1 hokkaido sea urchin with caviar

we all love uni of course, but we are not short of taking them, and we had whole tub of uni in japan for 1500yen (fukuoka recently) & lots of them at kuriya dining for the S$62 chirashi lunch with big serving of uni.

uni is uni. no culinary skill involved, is there?

#2 whole abalone with braised oxtail sauce

#2 whole abalone with braised oxtail sauce

#2 whole abalone with braised oxtail sauce

#2 whole abalone with braised oxtail sauce

second course was served with another white chardonnay.

for the second course, wife & i had the whole abalone that came with braised oxtail sauce & oxtail!

it was really well done. the abalone was so well braised or sous vide it was pure tender & the oxtail sauce was an excellent match. the 2 pieces of oxtail were also very tender & tasty & robust. wife loved this though for me, i still prefer the chinese or japanese braised abalone in brown sauce, and the chinese dry abalone over the japanese fresh ones.

son decided to venture a bit & took the battered frog legs. i tried a bit. I must say it was very good, enough for me to say that fie the choice of the whole abalone & the frog leg (it was a no brainer before), i am not sure i will automatically pick abalone every time. 🙂

#3 sole with mussels & razor clams

#3 sole with mussels & razor clams

the mains were served with a selection of red. we picked the spanish wine which was very good.

for the 3rd course, wife had the sole with mussels & razor clams. i think it was excellent, the best you could do with a fish. the sole was very tasty, tender and also firm in texture.

#3 pyrennes lamb

#3 pyrennes lamb

#3 pyrennes lamb

#3 pyrennes lamb

son & i had the pyrenes lamb shoulder. it was braised to perfection & smoked, very tender & smooth consistency w/o strong gamey taste. it was exquisite for a lamb shoulder.^^

#4 cheese platter - reblochon, comte & camembert (all 3 cheese were good, i like comte best, very tasty)

#4 cheese platter – reblochon, comte & camembert
(all 3 cheese were good, i like comte best, very tasty)

we had 2 plates of the cheese platter above for 3pax. it was lots of cheese. i liked all 3 cheese = reblochon, comte & camembert. i liked comte best, very flavourful almost like blue.

raspberry mousse + chestnut mousse on meringue with pear

chestnut mousse on meringue with pear+blackcurrent sorbet

we didn’t think much of the chestnut mousse on meringue, kind of sweet not accustomed to the taste! any sorbet, blackcurrent or otherwise, was good. 🙂

#6 raspberry sorbet & chocolate mousse

#6 raspberry sorbet & chocolate mousse

i liked the raspberry sorbet & chocolate mousse much better.^^

flat white

flat white

we were served coffee & petite four to round of the lunch.

this was the best meal i had in hk, a very memorable one, and i will definitely come back again with my wife.^^

c.h.e.f andy

Most Enjoyable Autumn Course Dinner @ Mikuni on 11Dec2014

#1 japanese taro, hokkaido uni in sesame tofu topped with ikura

#1 japanese taro, hokkaido uni in sesame tofu topped with ikura

had another splendid dinner at mikuni with wife on 11.12.2014. 🙂

we had the excellent autumn course menu, like a mini kaiseki.

i have never taken a course menu or kaiseki since the name changed from inagiku to mikuni some years back. instead we had been exploring the ala carte menu, creating our own Andy’s kaiseki (just in jest). and lately i am quite sold on mikuni’s chirashi don (i would say almost choutokusen 超特選 chirashi don). 🙂

cracker appetizer

cracker appetizer

mikuni autumn mini kaiseki

mikuni autumn mini kaiseki

we were very pleased though with this autumn course menu. 🙂

#7 complimentary drawer tray dessert

#1 japanese taro, hokkaido uni in sesame tofu topped with ikura

uni inside - #1 japanese taro, hokkaido uni in sesame tofu topped with ikura

#1 there was uni inside – hokkaido uni in sesame tofu topped with ikura

#7 complimentary drawer tray dessert

#1 japanese taro, hokkaido uni in sesame tofu topped with ikura

#1 japanese taro, hokkaido uni in sesame tofu topped with ikura

#1 japanese taro, hokkaido uni in sesame tofu topped with ikura – taro was just so so. the uni, ikura tofu was of course very nice. did not taste much of the sesame though.

#2 sashimi - hamachi, maguro & white prawns topped with caviar

#2 sashimi – hamachi, maguro & white prawns topped with caviar

#2 sashimi - hamachi, maguro & white prawns topped with caviar

#2 sashimi – hamachi, maguro & white prawns topped with caviar

#2 sashimi – hamachi, maguro & white prawns topped with caviar – sashimi was good cuts but otherwise ordinary except white prawn but that was kind of smallish.

#3 shell grilled scallops, & kagoshima beef robatayaki

#3 shell grilled scallops, & kagoshima beef robatayaki

#3 kagoshima beef robatayaki

#3 kagoshima beef robatayaki

#3 kagoshima beef robatayaki

#3 kagoshima beef robatayaki

#3 shell grilled scallops

#3 shell grilled scallops

#3 shell grilled scallops, & kagoshima beef robatayaki – kagoshima beef was heavenly. scallops was very nicely done too. quite excellent! 🙂

#4 chestnut tempura & sillago fish tempura

#4 chestnut tempura & sillago fish tempura

#4 chestnut tempura

#4 chestnut tempura

#4 chestnut tempura

#4 chestnut tempura

#4 chestnut tempura

#4 chestnut tempura

#4 chestnut tempura & sillago fish tempura – the sill ago (whiting) fish tempura was par excellence. chestnut was ok, quite nice really if non descript.

#5 osaka styled barachirashi don - uni, maguro, tai, kampachi, kajiki, ikura, lily bulb

#5 osaka styled barachirashi don – uni, maguro, tai, kampachi, kajiki, ikura, lily bulb

#5 miso soup with gohan

#5 miso soup with gohan

#5 the osaka styled barachirashi don – uni, maguro, tai, kampachi, kajiki, ikura, lily bulb was superb. came with pickles & miso soup

#6 chestnut ice cream & japanese honey dew

#6 chestnut ice cream & japanese honey dew

#6 chestnut ice cream & japanese honey dew

#6 chestnut ice cream & japanese honey dew

#6 chestnut ice cream & japanese honey dew was ok. i prefer yuzu ice cream & black sesami ice cream, and of course japanese rock melon to honey dew.

#7 complimentary drawer tray dessert

#7 complimentary drawer tray dessert

#7 complimentary drawer tray dessert

#7 complimentary drawer tray dessert

mikuni offered very good complimentary drawer tray dessert. 🙂

the 6-course dinner cost S$158pax. after 50% feed at raffles discounts, it was S$79pax exceeding sake/drinks. a quality & very good value dinner. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

Sumptuous Alluring Omakase @ Hachi on 22Nov2014

#4 sashimi moriawase 1pax = botan ebi, sawala (spanish mackerel), chutoro, ika, kinmedai, tai, hamachi

#4 sashimi moriawase 1pax = botan ebi, sawala (spanish mackerel), chutoro, ika, kinmedai, tai, hamachi

my wife’s good friend couple bought us a wonderful super delicious omakase dinner at hachi on 22.11.2014. 🙂

my wife & i had been to hachi several times. we introduced the restaurant to them & said we would buy them dinner there, but they sprang this superb omakase on us & bought us instead.

in fact we had never take this S$188pax premium omakase here (restaurant said it’s a new menu started 2014). every time we just took the S$118pax (now increased to S$128 pax) omakase, which was also pretty good. well no complaints. ^^ 🙂

#1 japanese persimmon with persimmon leaf

#1 japanese persimmon

#1 japanese persimmon with persimmon leaf

#1 japanese persimmon

#1 first course was a japanese persimmon came shielded with persimmon leaf. dish was beautiful & exquisite, feeling of koyo (autumn colours). persimmon was very sweet but could not recall the other items. there was goma (sesame) sauce.

#2 ayu fish, tam ago, ginkgo nuts, chestnut, crispy sweet potato, seaweed

#2 ayu fish, tamago, ginkgo nuts, chestnut, crispy sweet potato, seaweed

#2 ayu fish, tam ago, ginkgo nuts, chestnut, crispy sweet potato, seaweed

#2 ayu fish, tamago, ginkgo nuts, chestnut, crispy sweet potato, seaweed

#2 second course was ayu fish, tamago, ginkgo nuts, chestnut, crispy sweet potato, dish of seaweed. such delicate & beautiful plating. 🙂

ayu is a tasty but flaky (falling apart) fish, not my favourite but ayu shioyaki (鮎塩焼) is a very popular dish (see photo of the open grill here). in small bites for this starter, it was quite nice.

#3 steamed tai (seabream) on braised tofu

#3 steamed tai (seabream) on braised tofu

#3 third course was a steamed tai (seabream) on braised tofu. sea bream was very sweet & tasty. tofu was excellent, very crispy outside & smooth consistency inside.

#4 sashimi moriawase 1pax = botan ebi, sawala (spanish mackerel), chutoro, ika, kinmedai, tai, hamachi

#4 sashimi moriawase 1pax = botan ebi, sawala (spanish mackerel), chutoro, ika, kinmedai, tai, hamachi

#4 the next course sashimi moriawase for 1pax kinmedai 金目鯛 (japanese golden eye sea bream – see photo here), tai (sea bream), hamachi>> was a real treat. i have not taken sawala before & probably not kinmedai (as sashimi) too.

the kinmedai was really good. 🙂 and of course the chutoro, botan ebi etc etc. ^^

we had really good sashimi moriawase just last week at sumiya on 16.11.2014 which included uni, awabi & akami.

and of course mikuni’s chirashi don sashimi quality was top draw.

but to have this sashimi moriawase as part of an 11-course omakase was truly luxurious, sumptuous. 🙂

the sashimi moriawase for GOTO’s kaiseki was not too bad, but it was expensive & not as good value.

#5 crispy sweet potatoes on steamed sea bream on japaenese rice cake

#5 crispy sweet potatoes on steamed sea bream on japaenese rice cake

#5 crispy sweet potatoes on steamed sea bream on japaenese rice cake

#5 crispy sweet potatoes on steamed sea bream on japaenese rice cake

#5 fifth course was crispy sweet potatoes on steamed sea bream on japaenese rice cake in a very tasty starchy mountain yam soup. simply yummy. i drank the whole thing.

#6 very large (3in), firm & tasty oyster

#6 very large (3in), firm & tasty oyster

#6 very large (3in), firm & tasty oyster

#6 very large (3in), firm & tasty oyster

#6 sixth course was a large (3in), firm & tasty oyster. 1 of us found it sandy. it was ok for the rest. it was evidently good enough though as we finished the oysters before i thought of asking the restaurant to replace the oyster. i like this dish very much.

#7 excellent tempura - anago (conger eel), very good hotate, shiso 紫蘇 leaf (also called oba), and red pepper.

#7 excellent tempura – anago (conger eel), very good hotate, shiso 紫蘇 leaf (also called oba), and red pepper.

#7 excellent tempura - anago (conger eel), very good hotate, shiso 紫蘇 leaf (also called oba), and red pepper.

#7 excellent tempura – anago (conger eel), very good hotate, shiso 紫蘇 leaf (also called oba), and red pepper

#7 next course was an excellent tempura – anago (conger eel), very good hotate, shiso 紫蘇 leaf (also called oba), and red pepper.

the konbu (昆布) which japanese use for dashi (clear soup stock) is not edible.

#8 ohmi wagyu (近江牛) with xavier, jalapeño chilli, sweet potatoes

#8 ohmi wagyu (近江牛) with caviar, jalapeño chilli, sweet potatoes

#8 ohmi wagyu (近江牛) with xavier, jalapeño chilli, sweet potatoes

#8 ohmi wagyu (近江牛) with caviar, jalapeño chilli, sweet potatoes

#8 eighth course was ohmi wagyu (近江牛) – among the top 3 japanese wagyu – with caviar, jalapeño chilli, sweet potatoes.

taste was simply sublime, out of this world. ^^

#9 hokkaido momotaro tomatoes - a palate cleanser

#9 hokkaido momotaro tomatoes – a palate cleanser

#9 hokkaido momotaro tomatoes - a palate cleanser

#9 hokkaido momotaro tomatoes – a palate cleanser

#9 next was hokkaido momotaro tomatoes – a palate cleanser.

#10 my selection of sushi = kinmedai, hotate, uni (each diner can pick 3 types of sushi)

#10 my selection of sushi = kinmedai, hotate, uni (each diner can pick 3 types of sushi)

#10 my selection of sushi = kinmedai, hotate, uni (each diner can pick 3 types of sushi)

#10 my selection of sushi = kinmedai, hotate, uni (each diner can pick 3 types of sushi)

#10 the server brought us a tray of 10 to 12 sashimi. each diner can pick 3 types of sushi. my selection of sushi = kinmedai, hotate, uni. the hotate was really good, very huge, plump & sweet. the uni & kinmedai too of course. 🙂

wife had uni, negi toro & kinmedai. the 2 friends each had botan ebi, hotate & uni. 🙂

#11 dessert - yuzu ice cream, kiwi fruit, grapes, strawberries, blue berries, cheese cake slice

#11 dessert – yuzu ice cream, kiwi fruit, grapes, strawberries, blue berries, cheese cake slice

#11 dessert - yuzu ice cream, kiwi fruit, grapes, strawberries, blue berries, cheese cake slice

#11 dessert – yuzu ice cream, kiwi fruit, grapes, strawberries, blue berries, cheese cake slice

#11 i guess dessert was the least tantalising of the omakase – yuzu ice cream, kiwi fruit, grapes, strawberries, blue berries, cheese cake slice. it was a bit more quantity than quality, good standard & substantial, but not like say japanese melon.

overall this hachi premium omakase was much superior in quality of ingredients & taste c/w the kaiseki we had at GOTO on 23.10.2014, which cost a lot more.

c.h.e.f andy

Fabulous New Year Eve Dinner Degustation @ Au Jardin on 31Dec2013

wagyu striploin marbling score 5 rare

wagyu striploin marbling score 5 rare

au jardin new year eve degustation menu

au jardin new year eve degustation menu

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wanted to buy my wife a nice new year eve dinner, and saw the quite attractive menu in au jardin’s website, so decided to make a reservation for 2pax dinner on 31.12.2013.

we had couple of degustation dinners at au jardin many years back (my wife said 10 years ago). they were like 8-course priced at S$200pax  & were really good. i had considered trying the S$150pax table d’hote  (ie prix fixe)menu, but never did. subsequently, the regular menu did not look attractive as it does not today (ie 4-course at S$150pax), so i did not do dinner at au jardin but only occasional lunches (especially the recent maybank 1 for 1 promotion set lunch).

my wife & I generally have the practice not to dine out during public holidays, festive periods, mothers’ day etc as those occasions were very commercilaised & one often ended up paying through the nose (like 50% – 100% more) & getting poor food & poor service. anyhow for this new year eve dinner, au jardin served a 7-course+amuse bouche dinner at $198pax which was no difference in price from 10 years ago & far better menu than the regular S$150pax course menu, so the arrangement suited us fine.

i just wonder why they don’t do such menu regularly, especially when their business had not been good, and they are closing down by 31.3.2014 as a result of huge rental increase (& to me perhaps poor strategy & marketing). sign!

i do not rate au jardin degustation as better than the creative & excellent degustation at Jaan which cost only S$119pax after 50% feed at raffles discount, however one need a change of menu & environment, and most degus restaurants like iggy’s, gunthers etc are far more expensive. others like keystone & saint pierre are a little cheaper but not as fine, and private affairs had closed down.

wife ordered a red. it was expensive, 1/2 bottle for S$85++, but it was a grand cru classe & was really nice though i took maybe 30ml.

amuse bouche - foie gras terrine

amuse bouche – foie gras terrine

blue fin tuna ceviche

blue fin tuna ceviche

cold pasta with mud crab, caviar & uni

cold pasta with mud crab, caviar & uni

iberico pork cheeks, joselito proscuito, egg confit & winter truffles

iberico pork cheeks, joselito proscuito, egg confit & winter truffles

dover sole with razor clam & clam emulsion

dover sole with razor clam & clam emulsion

the 7-course dinner (+amuse bouche) came with 4 appetisers, 1 palate cleanser, 1 main, 1 dessert; as well as coffee & petit fours.

we had a warm bread basket. both the baguette & a raisin bread were good. the amuse bouche was a foie gras terrine with tobiko (flying fish roe) & jelly. this wasn’t exceptional & but still a great start to the evening dinner. 🙂

1st course was blue fin tuna ceviche with tobiko. it was nothing inventive, but very sweet & tasty.

the 2nd course, cold pasta with mud crab, caviar & sea urchin, was heavenly, par excellence. it way surpassed gordon grill’s (no comparison really as gordon grill’s was for a S$48pax lunch) & according to my wife likewise c/w gunther’s. 🙂

the 3rd course was a braised iberico pork cheek, with joselito proscuito, egg confit & winter truffle. sous vide low temperature poached egg is a regular feature in fine dining & i really loved the texture enhancement it gave to the dish, the proscuito was excellent, pork cheek so-so & i had already written about the excellent winter truffle here. 🙂

the 4th course was a lightly breaded dover sole served with razor clam & clam emulsion. the dover sole was ok, tender, i guess considered good in a good restaurant, but really average dish by comparison to other courses. the razor clam was great. 🙂

palate cleanser - watermelon, sorbet & lime jelly

palate cleanser – watermelon, sorbet & lime jelly

wagyu striploin marbling score 5 rare

wagyu striploin marbling score 5 rare

pistachio cake, green tea soil, raspberry sorbet

pistachio cake, green tea soil, raspberry sorbet

next we had the palate cleanser – a watermelon confit with sorbet & lime jelly. it was good.

the grilled wagyu striploin MBS5 rare (top photo & second above) was excellent. this was much better than what i did at home. it was done rare & yet totally charred (for maillard reaction that gave flavour to the beef) & served with carrot & root vegetables and a tiny piece of black garlic. superb! 🙂

for dessert, we had pistachio cake with raspberry sorbet. the cake was bland but when taken together with the slightly sour sorbet, it was good. 🙂

my cappuccino was great. the petit fours though was miserable (same as they served for set lunches). mini macarons were too sweet, chocolate was ok.

overall we had an excellent evening of food, wine & conversation. Jaan’s degustation gave far better value.nevertheless i enjoyed this dinner very much & would come back but regrettably they do not serve this in their regular menu. i may consider trying ala carte or their course menu. not sure for now!

happy new year everyone!

happy new year everyone!

and before signing off, happy new year 2014 to all my friends, readers & everyone!

c.h.e.f. andy