Monday, 9 March 2015

Pierre at Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong

Pierre Gagnaire’s Pierre at Mandarin Oriental also holds 2 Michelin stars. After the substandard meal at Caprice, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Pierre. That said restaurants at the Mandarin Oriental group have never let me down. James booked a table for 7pm; we were the first table of the evening and we had the chance to check out the view from the 25th floor overlooking Central.

Just like PG’s Sketch in London, we were served cumin sticks, colourful jewels of nibbles and a mini bread basket as we studied the menu. Each course came with 3 or 4 items, each dish showed off the full spectrum of culinary skills by creating unusual textures and complex flavours. It was a truly memorable and sophisticated dining experience. 

Perfume of the Earth
Smoked cocotte of roots vegetable, glazed pork loin and wood sorrel; Foie gras cream with Manzanilla
“Callette ardechoise” minced pork and green vegetable sausage, French grey snails, “Red sauce”
Leek ravioli and burnt onion consomme
White beetroot tart
There earthy theme was carried through all 4 dishes. The small parcel of mince pork and snails were particularly interesting as the livery flavours reminded me of Chinese sausage, paired with a thick red wine reduction. The beetroot tart also had a sweet camerbert filing to round off the course. An ingenious ensemble. 

Royal Madec with fresh ginger, frosted banana and sardine “rillettes"
Poached David Herve with Savagnin wine, leek, eel and Morteau sausage
Gilardeau with Nantes butter, slow-simmered spinach, rye toast, veil of Mortadella

James’s trio of oyster dishes were equally impressive. I forgot to snap a photo>.<
The strength of minerality and creaminess increased by the dish. Taking oysters to a new level, each was mildly poached to retained its texture, paired with gentle touches of Japanese influence of light yuzu and soy dressing, followed by richer French puree. Needless to say GIlardeau was the king of oysters.

Sea Bass / Sea Urchin
Grilled / poached line-caught thick sea bass steak, nettle puree, lemon marmalade, capers, pig’s ear and green olives
Buckwheat pancake, sea urchin with hazelnut butter, button mushroom salad
Royal-style sea urchin and beef tartar

While the thick sea bass filet was brilliantly silky and soft, the highlight was the mini steak tartare with the sweet, clean and velvety sea urchin. The mushroom salad wasn’t my kind of thing; not a fan of raw mushroom slices but the sea urchin mingled with hazelnut butter hidden beneath was very interesting, the nuttiness worked well with the luscious sea urchin.

Lamb AAA
Roasted saddle of lamb with garlic / tarragon, quinoa, outargue, smoked eggplant caviar with preserved garlic
Grilled rack of lamb, date cannelloni with Roquefort cheese, Ricotta cheese and pear
Sweetbreads, “otti” tomato pulp with sesame, lettuce leaf

The lamb saddle was perfectly roasted to medium and delectably tender; accompaniments were in precise balance with subdued smokiness from the aubergine and garlic. Lamb flavours were relatively mild due to the lean muscles though. The sweetbread wrapped in the thin lettuce leaf was quite different to what I was expecting; instead of a wobbly gelatinous morsel, the lump of sweatbread of springy with a slight chew; I prefer it melty and soft.


Around the Tea
Soft biscuit and Matcha tea ice cream
Loukoum flavoured with Mirin, diced Hohicha tea parfait, yuzu gel
Hot white tea, sago and aloe vera

The green tea essence was immense. Matcha roll was soft and airy with thick butter cream that neutralises the fragrant bitterness from the tea powder. As an avid lover for green tea desserts, this was perfect. The white tea, though mixed with springy aloe vera and sago for bouncy mouth feel, could have done with a touch of sweetness. 

Chocolate Souffle
Aragani chocolate souffle, pistachio parfait
Smooth chocolate ganache cream
Cocoa water, chocolate ice-cream and veil of Nougatine
This could have been the flattest soufflé, ever. Not much fluffy textures but the chocolate sauce melted the pistachio butter on top to create a chocolate fondant effect.

Pierre really lived up to the 2-Star reputation; I was blown away by each and everything presented to us. Even James was impressed, and that’s quite an achievement in itself. I suppose when they are charging £170 per head + £25 for a glass of wine in Hong Kong, expectations are understandably high. And boy they delivered. The knockout view paired with exquisite food, shared with one of my closest and dearest made the evening extraordinary.

Thank you James.

Level 25
5 Connaught Road
Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2825 4001

You may also like: Mandarin Grill + Bar*, Amber **HK Sweet Treats

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