The Landmark Mandarin Oriental Hotel
While being ranked as 36th in the whole world, I guess it should be the top restaurant in Hong Kong. As it is two spots above my favourite Andre from Singapore (ranked 38th), I was really looking forward to it. As the saying goes, the higher your expectation, the greater your disappointment and indeed I was pretty disappointed by the standard of the food. Lets take a look at the set lunch over here. You can choose either or 3 or 4 course lunch and it costs slightly less than HKD $550 for the 3 course while the 4 course costs slightly more than HKD $700. As there were three of us, we could taste most of the food already with just each of us getting a 3 course.
Lollipop looking foie gras balls. These were quite good initially I felt. I think it tasted a bit fruity and then quickly, the foie gras taste kicks in. It would have been good if it stopped there but the tastes went further and became super heavy iron tasting. I really felt like I was eating iron.
The thing that I didn’t like was that service was quite rushed over here albeit still good. Before we could even finish the pre starters, the starters arrived. Luckily this didn’t happen for the mains.
I got the ‘saba’ mackeral for the starters. It’s just sashimi and the sauce is a bit zesty. The first slice that I had had a slight fishy taste I felt but as I had more slices, they were not as fishy. Maybe cos I’ve gotten used to the taste. Wasn’t a good sashimi starter and Singapore’s Shinji would do MUCH better job than them.
The oyster salad was the best starter out of the best I guess. I am very sensitive to the fishy taste of oyster even when given really fresh ones but these oysters don’t even have that fishy taste. It must be fresh and well prepared. But there was a stalk of vegetable that I didn’t like, it has the earthy taste similar to that of bean sprouts and I had to gulp down my water to wash the taste off.
So for mains. I got the Pollock fish. Fish was well cooked and flesh was really smooth and moist. There were some potatoes at the side. To put it crudely, it’s just fish with potatoes. Taste again is very predictable and I feel that I can find this kinda dish easily in Singapore.
The seabass with carrot. Carrot was well boiled and caramelised. Slightly sweet and I like that. Fish was soft and moist too but I don’t really understand why do we need to pay an extra HKD $98 for sea bass as I thought it is a pretty cheap fish. hmmm… Still quite a normal dish.
And the ‘highlight’ of the day is this foie gras wrapped pigeon. Pigeon is hidden in the brown thing (foie gras) in the first picture. It actually looks like du*g. Sorry for being crude but that is what it really looks like. Pushing the presentation aside, I thought the taste might still be acceptable but we scraped off the foie gras crust and finished the pigeon meat which tasted O.K. The foie gras crust tasted like iron again and it was really powdery. It has the texture of pig liver boiled in water for way too long. I’m not too sure if the pigeon should taste so iron-like though it’s red meat as the pigeon I had in my college in Cambridge was yummy, moist and there wasn’t such a strong Fe (iron) after taste. The strip of sides beside this brown thing was actually better. It has nice tender chicken meat.
So, like what I said. we scraped the Foie gras meat away and it looks like the picture below. The son from a Caucasian family who sat beside us also had the same pigeon mains and he scraped off all the foie gras too. I guess it was unpleasant for them too.
So the waitress asked if we are alright and if we wanted a change of mains. We were hesitant and didn’t want to but she kept asking if we are O.K. and that the change in mains would be complementary. Since it’s free, then why not. I don’t pay so much for mediocre food. So, we got the seabass for free but with just an extra fee of HKD $98. I say, this is really good service and I am glad that this 2 Michelin restaurant lives up to its stars (for service at least).
The chocolate dessert. Super rich and decadent cake which was very good. On top of it was ice cream and white chocolate. The cake was really dense and I think there’s some caramel in it. My mum loved this.
The berry berry dessert which was very good. Everything was ice cream and tbh it tasted like the PBJ (peanut butter jelly) I had at Pollen Singapore. Ice cream used were the same. Raspberry sorbet which is very intense, refreshing and zesty. The biscuit roll was sweet, crispy and light too.
Ranked 36th in the world, I’m really not sure if it deserves that. Maybe, the lunch set is just not too good and it earned its 36th from the al carte menu. Even though Andre is 38th in the world, it executes its lunch impeccably. Even lunch in Jaan (not ranked in the world’s best 50 but ranked in Asia’s best 50) beats Amber hands down. Food here is just too simple for the price paid and isn’t intriguing enough. It doesn’t give me the Give-me-more-please desire unlike Andre. Also, the pigeon was a big letdown with a super harsh after taste. It’s like how some people don’t like the after taste of lamb but restaurants like Jaan managed to remove the ‘smelly’ taste in their 5 course menu. I I guess Amber managed to salvage itself slightly when they offer us another complementary main but would I return to this restaurant again? It would be a ‘No’. Service was however, very commendable over here I felt despite it being slightly rushed!
Verdict: A mediocre restaurant.