The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Friday, 23 September 2011

Fine Swiss @ Chesa, Hong Kong

We expanded our experience with European cuisines eating a Swiss lunch at Chesa last weekend, inside Hong Kong's most historical (and expensive) hotel: The Peninsula. We were brought to this hotel (to visit, not stay!) 7 years ago by my aunt-in-law during our honeymoon trip to HK, and I remember being awed at the beautiful antiquity of the ceiling designs and pillar carvings. We were told of the famous English-style afternoon tea served here, something I would love to experience if not for the perpetually long queue for a table. The YMCA is just next door, where my little boy used to have his toddler class, and it's funny how I never clicked that THE Peninsula was just across the road. Anyway, here we were, 7 years later and this time with our toddler, but the architectural beauty of The Peninsula was somewhat wasted on our boy. He did appreciate the lunch at Chesa though, so at least the trip wasn't entirely a waste for him.

Gorgeous dark wood panelling allowed us to dream of being in a Swiss chalet somewhere in the Alps. This was the restaurant at the start of the lunch opening, shortly before diners arrived for their reservations:

Chesa has been operating for more than 40 years, so it is almost as historic as The Peninsula itself. It is a fine dining establishment, and the restaurant has a dress code of smart casual with a couple of additional restrictions that applies only to the gentlemen. Kids under 3 are not permitted, but our boy (who will be 3 in a few weeks' time) can easily pass as a 4-year-old with his height - though his behaviour may have given his age away. Service is professional and impeccable, as to be expected from a restaurant like this. he a-la-carte menu featured some classic Swiss dishes like the traditional Swiss fondue, rösti and raclette. Chesa also has an affordable 3-course set menu for lunch (HK$298) which gave four choices for each of the appetiser, main and dessert courses, and mocha/tea and petit fours are also included. This was great value considering many of the dishes from the a-la-carte menu cost more than the set menu. Hubby and I both went for the set lunch, and ordered an additional dish for the boy.

The bread basket full of delicious fresh bread. The boy ate 3 crusty rolls and kept asking for more!

Raclette du Valais (hot melted cheese with new potatoes, pickled onions and gherkins). We weren't quite sure of the proper way to eat raclette, but the grilled crispy cheese was lovely and fine on its own:

The pickled onions and gherkins, olives, radish and cherry tomato that came with the raclette. These were the freshest pickles I'd ever eaten (yes, I realise that's a bit of an oxymoron, but I can't think of a better way to describe the pickles):

Hubby's appetiser: Rillettes de canard au foie gras, purée de panais et reinette (duck rillettes with goose liver, parsnips and apple purée) - light, fresh and flavourful. The sweetness of the purée went well with the rillettes:

My appetiser: Savarin au fenouil, goujons de sole et vinaigrette aux crustacés (fennel savarin with breaded sole and shellfish vinaigrette) - very tasty, but honestly the breaded sole reminded me of fish fingers, but much better prepared and significantly less processed. The fennel flavour is quite pronounced in the savarin, and it went really well with the breaded sole. The savarin was slightly airy, like a creamy mousse:

Hubby's main course: Saumon en croûte d'herbes cuit au four, écrasé de chou-flew et sauce au Noilly Prat (oven-baked salmon in herb crust on coarse cauliflower and Noilly Prat sauce) - nicely prepared, but salmon has become a bit too ordinary for me. Hubby liked it:

My main: Filets de sardine poêlés, salade Parmentier et créme à la moutarde (pan-fried sardine fillets on warm potato salad and mild mustard cream) - crispy sardines, perfectly seasoned and tasty. Hubby doesn't like sardines, so he wasn't as keen on it as me, a sardine-lover. The boy was with me on this one, and kept asking for "mummy's fish":

Rob's dessert: Tarte fine au chocolat et à la banane, sorbet au yuzu (chocolate and banana tart with yuzu sherbet) - the highlight (for me) was the yuzu sherbet which was sharp with the lovely citrus flavour. The chocolate tart was rich and decadent and I loved the biscuity tart base:

My dessert: Parfait glacé à l'orange et son crumble à la cannelle, sorbet au pamplemousse (iced orange parfait with cinnamon crumble, grapefruit sherbet) - surprisingly light and refreshing, and the sherbet was a good palate cleanser. Cliché as it may be, I think I do indeed like parfait after all (the French version, not the over-the-top American-style layered ones):

Three sets of petit fours - strawberry with marshmallow-like mousse topping, passionfruit-filled dark chocolate truffle and chocolate-dipped glacé orange. Delightful bite-sized treats!

Chesa also made a good cup of cappuccino, and hubby's mocha was also delicious. This was a lovely experience, and a great introduction to Swiss cuisine.

1st Floor,
The Peninsula Hong Kong,
Salisbury Road,
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
Tel. +85 2 2315 3169