Thursday, May 17, 2012

Restaurant Review: Amber

Food and travel guest blogger hkLifestyleGeek gives us her next scoop on fantastic restaurants.

Amber recently made the S. Pellegrino Top 50 Best Restaurants list this year again and it's no surprise why -- Chef Richard Ekkebus is constantly striving to improve and create new dishes that surprise and delight his customers. Ekkebus likes using a lot of Japanese products in his dishes as well as organic vegetables and line-caught fish to practice sustainability in his restaurant. Before our meal began we were treated to a deep-fried whiting fish that was filleted and then deep-fried tempura style garnished with a kind of mayo and radish. It was so light and retained the fresh fish flavour.

Next was the famous -- or infamous -- foie gras lollipop covered in raspberry and beetroot gelee that goes down so easily it's tempting to ask for another! But we haven't even started the dinner yet!

The first dish had two components: the top of the dish revealed a thin bruschetta with tomatoes, olive oil caviar and greens that was alternatively crunchy and smooth, while the underneath was a sayori needle fish painstakingly decorated with tomato and zucchini circles and one caviar on each piece garnished with more olive oil caviar, lying in a bed of tomato water. It sounds complicated, but really it's simply delicious.

Next up was roasted wild Suzuki seabass accompanied with organic heirloom tomatoes with the cutest little baby squid that were sweet and crunchy. Ekkebus is always aware of playing with textures that makes his plates so interesting and gives taste buds a full workout.

Next came his version of paella featuring rice-shaped pasta called puntalette, with shellfish, chorizo, tomatoes and asparagus in a light creamy sauce topped with a large thick piece of seaweed.

Then we moved onto more heavier dishes. The duck foie gras was first steamed then charcoal grilled with virgin pistachio oil, complemented with salt-roasted beetroots in cherry juice and hibiscus reduction. As Ekkebus explains, the hibiscus sauce cuts through the foie gras nicely and we like the use of cherries instead of the typical apple or pear.

Probably the highlight of the evening was the very young spring lamb rack, roasted with cumin that was so so tender it almost melted in the mouth. The outside of the lamb was wrapped in a thin layer of crispy sweetbreads and accompanied with asparagus, morels and mustard seeds.

If you have room you can have a selection of cheeses that come fresh from France, mostly soft cheeses and goat cheese.

Or you can go straight to dessert.

A refreshing palate cleanser is the pink grapefruit and campari sorbet over hibiscus jell-O. Yes, Ekkebus is really into his hibiscus, and why not? It's exotic and has a tangy flavour.

Finally the last dish of the evening arrived, not before our stomachs were full to the brim. We loved the construction of the sponge cake at the bottom, white chocolate rolls on top, a crunchy caramel wafer then topped with earl gray milk tea sorbet. More texture playing came to mind with this dessert that was very light and scrumptious to the last bite.

Ekkebus' keen interest in experimenting and concocting new tastes are recognised as one of the best in the world; and if you have a chance, you should try Amber out too.

7/F, Landmark Mandarin Oriental
15 Queens Road Central
2132 0066

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