Although i flew to Hong Kong numerous times a year only for
food Michelin restaurants, there are always new restaurants featured on Michelin Guide each year. I always encounter difficult times to decide between ‘new comers’ and the oldies. Some people might curious about my favorite restaurant in Hong Kong, well, it is really hard to decide the ‘best’, but i did keep revisiting some, Amber is always on the list.
For those who don’t know Amber well, here’s a brief introduction. Housed in The Landmark Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Central, Amber provides a fitting showcase for Ekkebus’ modern French food with nods to a globe-trotting career that has included stints in Holland, France, Mauritius and Barbados.Trained in the illustrious kitchens of Alain Passard, Guy Savoy and Pierre Gagnaire,Ekkebuscooks firmly in the French tradition while taking full advantage of Hong Kong’s unique crossroads between East and West. Under his direction, Amber has won two Michelin stars for 7 consecutive years. It was also positioned at No.6 Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2015.
Last Visit: Jun.13.2015 (Weekend Wine Lunch)
Address: 7/F, The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, The Landmark, 15 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2132 0066
Came back for: Hokkaido Sea Urchin, Weekend Wine Menu
” Eyes swing upwards on arrival at Amber, attracted by the uniquely dramatic chandelier of 4,320 bronze rods suspended above the refined dining room.International design maverick Adam Tihany blends that warm metallic glow with Australian walnut window louvers that allow Hong Kong’s natural sunlight to illuminate the double height interior furnished with custom Tihany Design tables and chairs of Macassar ebony.” The ambiance is elegant and rather relax during weekend lunch.
The Among the previous visits, i have tried breakfast, lunch as well as dinner already. It was my first time having ‘Weekend wine lunch’ at Amber, which is available on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays from 12pm to 2pm. The menu is rather affordable, priced at HKD $888 for 6 courses including wine pairing for each savory dishes.
Our lunch started with assorted amuse bouches. First came the tomato juice with a cute ‘tomato’, which was actually made of pita bread, filled with fennel puree, and the stem was made of seaweed. The tomato juice has a very clean taste, paired with the crispy pita bread, the combination really refreshed me up.
After been served the first glass of wine, which was champagne from France, we then moved on to the rest snacks. The deep-fried ravioli was beautifully presented on a bed of ‘grass’ on a real wood, the presentation and the pure flavor from the ravioli itself brought us back to the nature. On the side, fennel macaron with tomato filling and the tomato-shaped Bloody Mary tart were both quite refreshing.
Amber serves one of the highest-quality breads among all French restaurants in Hong Kong, along with Caprice(2*), Robuchon(3*), Petrus(was 1*), and Pierre(2*). There were 4 selections of breads: olive, mutlgrain, baguette and rye crisps.
I picked the mini sourdough and crisp. Under the golden-brown crusty skin was a soft and fluffy center, spread with some fine French butter on the side, the breads was another hints of a pleasant meal.
First dish was ‘boops boops fish’, a very interesting name and the description on the menu made us really curious about the dish. The fish was tender and juicy, it has a very clean taste, the hint of watermelon reminds me of a perfect summer.
What i came back for is the ‘Hokkaido sea urchin’, which is also the signature and ever-popular dish at Amber.
The creamy freash sea urchin was settled on a bed of cauliflower mousse, which was very smooth and creamy. Above the cauliflower mousse was a layer of lobster jelly, very umami and enhances the combination before crowning it with a quenelle of caviar and gold lead. The crispy seaweed waffle on the side brought another texture to the dish. The harmony of all these elements into a luxurious combination was a blessed mouthful.
Before move on to the hot appetizers, we received a complimentary gift from the chef – a beautiful dish of charred langoustine. The langoustine was large in size, it has a lovely charred fragrance, its tender and sweetness paired wonderfully with the sourness from the chopped green apples.
One should never go wrong with an egg dish, especially a runny egg. The onsen egg was decorated with refreshing pea puree and finished with some warm ‘vin jaune’, which is a broth made of cheese and French yellow wine.The egg yolk of the perfectly poached Taiyouran egg was incredibly rich and high in flavor, the onion crisp on the top brought another texture and nicely enhanced the flavor. The dish was flavorful and balanced very well.
The next course combines seafood and red meat, which is not very common served in any restaurants because its very hard to handle this kind of combination, because meat and seafood are precessed in different ways and has different textures, only a confident chef would do this. Well, back to the food itself. The abalone was well-cooked, very tender and umami. The tomato compote was not very special, but the addition of vinegar makes it rather refreshing, while the black pepper lifted the sensations. Crisped oxtail with its jus was the best helper of the dish, the succulent oxtail works excellent with the abalone, and the delicious oxtail jus went through the entire dish very well.
Move on to the main dishes. My partner had the Dupont duck which was georgeous. The duck was lean, it was perfect cooked which can be seen from its color. You can never imagine how juicy and tender it was unless you tried by yourself, the roasted figs and turnip puree wonderfully balanced its deep flavor.
Lovely aroma of the seared skin was my first sensation of the next dish before i really saw it. Its pretty presentation made me rather hungry. Underneath its crispy skin was melt-in-mouth tenderness meat, very juicy and enjoyable. While its juices as well as the sea urchin rouille makes the dish more umami. Zuchini and orange dust brought a refreshing touch to the dish, and the chewy gnocchi increased the complexity of the texture.
Before moving to the desserts, we were served with the chefs selection for the table to share matured by Bernard Antony, which was included in the weekend wine lunch menu. It was served with a glass of 2011 Tempranillo from Spain (I lost the photo). We selected some freshly-baked walnut & raisins sourdough to pair with, the deep and savory flavor of the fine cheeses went very well with the breads and wine. While both of us are not big fans of cheeses (which means we were not really foodies haha), we only had the first two from the left hand side because the rest was too strong in smell.
The first dessert was the sliced Japanese yellow peach, which was poached in sake and citrus. The incredibly juicy and sweet peach with a Japanese twist was very refreshing and enjoyable.
The second dessert was a chocolate mousse side with raspberry sorbet. The rich mousse has a very deep flavor, not on the bitter side but rather milky. The black current gel and raspberry sorbet on the side brought a fruity twist to the rich mousse.
The meal ends with a cup of tea or coffee, together with assorted petit fours. The petit fours was placed in the trio-layer container, featured jelly candies, puffs, chocolates and tart. Not bad but neither impressive, better than nothing 🙂
It was my X time eating at Amber and food was still satisfying. Every single dish we had was enjoyable, the combination of all the ingredients was well-balanced, also processed well for its best flavor and texture. While the service was efficient but not perfectly good compare to few other French restaurants in town. The 6-courses weekend lunch with cheese and wine pairing is really a steal, very affordable compare to dinner, and worth more money than weekday lunches. Anyway, no matter which meal of the day, Amber is still my top place for fine French food.