March 4, 2007

Pierre II

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Went back to Pierre for a second try. Was a little upset that they stopped allowing BYO, but wanted to try some of the dishes which weren't on the degustation menu. From my last experience, I was sure that I didn't want to have the degustation menu again, especially since they hadn't changed it since my last visit. However I think their portions are big enough and I came away with a very full stomach.

I started with the Saint Jacques, which were pan-seared to perfection so that it is light brown on the sides and soft and succulent on the inside. As is typical of Pierre, it came with a side of diced scallops topped with steamed zucchini topped with roasted potato ice cream, and another side of chopped asparagus.

The Saint Jacques were delicious, and was an interesting match to the glass of 2004 Sigalas Santorini. With the taste of the scallops still on my tongue, a sip of the wine is first amazingly sweet on the palate (the wine is vinified dry) followed by a hint of bitter finish.

The diced scallops with potato ice cream is amazingly sweet, but somehow reminds me of the potato salads that are so popular in Asia - with diced potatoes, cucumber, carrots mixed with generous helpings of mayonnaise. The asparagus is served in a giant ladle and is very, very sweet. It just shows how fresh the ingredients are.

Next up was the famous popcorn soup. Chicken stock with butter and mashed popcorn, whipped up to a creamy consistency like the cream of mushrooms soup, then topped with lots of popcorn. At HK$80, it's the cheapest item on the menu, but rather delicious and deceptively heavy.

For my main the waiter suggested the Chilean sea bass for a taste of Pierre Gagnaire's creativity. The fish comes in cubes topped with slices of shiitake mushrooms, served on a bed of cumin-infused pumpkin purée with cubes of red wine-poached pears. The sweetness of the pumpkin and pears worked well with the cumin.

The 2003 Marc Morey Chassagne Montrachet was absolutely beautiful - sweet, creamy butter mixed with toasty oak and minerals.

I shared the cheese course from my friend's degustation menu, which came in three variations: thinly sliced aged Gouda (or was it Mimmolet) served over diced and sweet marinated zucchini; a blue cheese (forgot which) topped with walnuts; and an opéra of Brie with shredded celeriac and endives.

For dessert I chose the lemon citron, which was a combination of lemon jelly, frozen parfait of passion fruit wrapped in a multicolored marzipan-like skin, lemon meringue, lemon sorbet with a dab of pistachio cream, and a shot of limoncello. It was really refreshing and just what I needed at the end of a rather heavy meal.

I think we all agreed that Pierre's creations were of very high quality, and impressed with the care the chef took to find the right combinations of flavors and ingredients. It is truly at the top of the game in Hong Kong.

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