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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

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Degustation Menu @ Amber Restaurant, Hong Kong

Hubby and I have reached the 10th year anniversary of our wedding date. It didn't seem that long ago, yet at the same time it feels like a lifetime ago. We have gone through so much together in the past decade - both the euphoric highs and the lowest depths - that we felt the need to splurge a little in celebration for getting this far. (We actually wanted to take a special trip to celebrate our 10 years, but hubby couldn't take the time off work this summer.) Amber is a highly acclaimed restaurant that has won many awards since its opening five years ago. I was recently reminded that we still hadn't tried this restaurant, and our anniversary seemed like the perfect occasion to make reservations.

Gorgeous interior design with the distinctive chandelier of more than 4000 bronze rods suspended from the ceiling. Simple elegance:

From the moment I booked a table-for-two (using the convenient form on Amber's website) until we left the restaurant, service was courteous and impeccable, attentive but unobtrusive. Although this was a top-class fine-dining establishment, we felt quite comfortable and at ease during our meal - perhaps due to the warm ambience, the amicable staff, or the comfortable chairs. At lunch time, we could choose from four menus: lunch set, à la carte, degustation and platinum. To be honest, I was too busy admiring the unique chandelier above to pay much attention to all the different menus available. The degustation menu is for the whole table, so when hubby said he was interested in it, I didn't even bother looking at the other menus. When I expressed my concern that the 8-course meal would be too much for me, our lovely hostess said that she could remove the cheese course and the chocolate dessert from my set (I'm guessing that this happens quite frequently with the ladies and smaller eaters who have to go with the degustation menu because their dining companions want it). Every course was beautifully presented and had amazing flavours and textures. The menu changes every three months to reflect what is available seasonally, which gives us reason to visit again!

My choice from the bread basket - wholegrain bun and crispy sourdough (my favourite):

Hubby's bread were the mini-baguette and olive bread (his favourite):

We were presented with no less than four amuse-bouche to whet our appetite, which was a lovely surprise as I'd only expected one!

First amuse-bouche was a tiny pita stuffed with sweet red pepper and zucchini (I like how the topping indicates what is inside):

Amuse-bouche #2 was a tiny piece of juicy herring with beetroot and sour cream on a dainty rice cracker:

When our waiter presented the third amuse-bouche, I exclaimed "Lollipops!" to which our waiter replied in his lovely Swiss accent: "Correct - foie gras lollipops!" This is one of Amber's signature dishes - foie gras lollipops with raspberry jelly, beetroot and gingerbread:

The final amuse-bouche, Iberian ham croquette - perfect crust, creamy insides:

Course #1 - Aji horse mackerel served raw over koshihikari rice & sake lees emulsion, pickled cucumber, turnip & wild fennel. This tasted very Japanese - the use of aji, soy-sauce based glaze, tsukemono; even the dainty presentation looked Japanese. The flavour of the sake lees was prominent enough to complement but not overwhelm:

Course #2 was my favourite - Hokkaido sea urchin in a lobster jell-O with cauliflower, caviar, crispy seaweed waffles. The uni was very good, sweet and mild with no fishy taste - I don't think I've tasted uni this fresh since moving out of Japan four years ago. I also loved the presentation in an uni shell, and the mother-of-pearl spoon (we admired the spoon for quite a while wondering how it was made):

Course #3 - ‘Pineapple’ tomato with fresh almonds, niçoise olive & summer truffle salad, clear gazpacho, stragiatella di buffalo & bellota air baguette. This vegetarian dish was a bit of a surprise, as what looked like a pineapple was actually tomato. Beautiful colours, fresh flavours, and the air baguette was novel:

Course #4 - Australian abalone with black pepper & vinegar seasoned tomato compote, and braised then crisped oxtail & its jus:

The abalone was tender and nice enough (I find it hard to appreciate abalone), but I thought the oxtail was delightful! I remarked to hubby that the tomato compote was reminiscent of a meatless bolognese sauce. Abalone is probably the only seafood that I think needs a strongly flavoured sauce as it is quite bland on its own:

Hubby's Course #5 - Omi wagyu beef strip loin; char-grilled, onion, malt & malt vinegar purée, and brown ale braised short ribs with crispy cereals & celtus. I'm not much of a red meat eater, but even I can appreciate the juicy, smooth and tender wagyu:

My fifth course was Lozère elovel lamb rack & saddle roasted then rubbed with gremolata, organic lemon yoghurt, Medjool dates, violette mustard. Such lovely flavours, and seemed like a more refined option than the beef. I particularly enjoyed the little dollops of puréed Medjool dates:

The lamb course was accompanied by a little bowl of crispy lamb raviolis with the braised neck & aubergine caviar:

We were done with the main part of the meal, and the cheese cart filled with French unpasteurized cheeses (matured by Bernard Antony) was wheeled to our table for hubby's Course #6. Hubby and I immediately recognised the mimolette that we first encountered on our 6th anniversary:

The Swiss waiter cum cheese sommelier explaining the different types of cheese. The little boy in the next table was enthralled by the cheese cart and cheese sommelier with his Swiss accent. Overwhelmed with the variety available, hubby requested for a selection of cheese to be chosen for him:

Selection of cheese ranged from the mild and sweet to the strong and funky (we were spared from the Roquefort). The mimolette (dark orange at 8 o'clock on the cheese board) remained our favourite:

First dessert course was pineapple poached with aloe vera, banana, micro sorrel, olive oil snow & caviar, and a sorbet of mango & passionfruit. The pineapple was incredibly sweet and juicy. A nice and light dessert that doesn't sit heavy on the palate or stomach:

Hubby's second dessert was Dulcey chocolate spheres coated in Manjari 64% chocolate with salted & caramelized macadamia nuts, and cocoa sorbet. What a rich dessert this was! The cocoa sorbet was surprisingly light and not too sweet:

The Dulcey chocolate was blond! My first time trying a blond chocolate, and I like it better than the overly sweet white chocolate. Nothing beats dark chocolate though, and the dark chocolate coating completed this dessert:

Indulging in a cappuccino after the meal (my infant daughter has me abstaining from coffee):

Three tiers of delicious petit fours, complete with an anniversary greeting! Juicy jelly jubes, intensely flavoured macarons and crispy biscuits and tarts:

What an amazing meal that was! Everything was perfect, and anything that was not was very quickly rectified (one dish was quickly whisked away as soon as it was uncovered when our hostess noticed some garnishing was missing). I highly recommend Amber Restaurant for any special occasions!

Amber Restaurant
7th Floor, The Landmark Mandarin Oriental
The Landmark
15 Queen's Road Central
Central, Hong Kong
Tel. +852 2132 0066

2 comments:

  1. Happy anniversary! what an amazing meal. Envious!

    I started Asher on nuts at around 7.5mths/8mths. But we have no nuts allergy in our household..although I'm very careful with gluten and dairy with him!

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  2. Thanks Daphne. I probably will do a skin patch test first as a trial run, but I'm quite nervous about it as I've spent almost 6 years keeping nuts and peanuts from my son.

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