March 22, 2007

Why I never went to Amber

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Finally had a chance to go to Amber last night, thanks to global boss being in town and taking the whole team to dinner. We had something like 14 people and the bill was about HKD 2k/head including wine. Not quite worth it in my opinion... but very happy that someone else paid for my experience.

The tasting menu started with teasers, which consist of three little bits that no one could figure out. The first bit had half a raspberry on top of a thin slice of veggie used as a wrapper, with a plastic squeeze tube inserted into the center. You had to gently squeeze the plastic to injet the raspberry purée into the center, but no one came to explain and most people squeezed too hard and squirted raspberry juice all over the place... The second piece was pretty forgettable (since I have trouble remembering only the day after), and the third bit was like soft potato purée/egg custard/whatever topped with black truffle sauce. I thought it was foie gras mousse at first but the color/taste didn't match. Overall I'd say this was a flop.

Then we moved on to the foie gras, which was two long strips of foie gras terrine sandwiching a center strip of smoked eel. I guess the combination was interesting but the salty, smoky eel didn't work well with the smooth foie. Not really impressed.

The line caught sea bass followed, which was poached, topped with caviar and served on a bed of foam and white/green asparagus spears. Not bad but really nothing to write home about.

I chose lamb for my main course (other choices were wagyu and chicken - which a colleague of mine didn't recognize coz the meat was wrapped in tubes and then cut into cross sections). The lamb chops supposedly went to a two-step process with roasting as a finish. The raw ingredientt was actually pretty good, but when I asked for medium rare I didn't expect that much of the center section to be raw...

The pre-dessert was OK and then came the passion fruit soufflé. We all had individual portions served in a square container. There were a few seeds sprinkled on top to enhanced the visuals. This was served with a small scoop each of apricot (?) and coconut ice cream on the side. Good marks for the dessert.

Surprisingly (or perhaps he wanted to keep the cost down) my French boss ordered Californian wines - a Sauvignon Blanc from Stag's Leap and a Pinot from Au Bon Climat. The Pinot was just a bit too ripe and it's one of the few times that the sweetness of a Cali Pinot actually got to me.

At the end of the evening, it's fair to say that I have no need to return to Amber. There are too many better places in Hong Kong. One last comment - this hits one of my pet peeves...the menu is too long-winded. I can't stand menus with two or three line descriptions of the dishes, listing out every single ingredient that had a distinctive flavor, sometimes obscuring the main ingredient! Sometimes I'd prefer to taste the food and discover all the different flavors! This is why I never went back to Saint Pierre in Singapore, and similarly will not go back to Amber.

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