August 12, 2011

Windows on Hong Kong

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There is always a lot of hype surrounding the opening of any new fancy restaurant or hotel, and when the hotel is the Ritz-Carlton in Hong Kong - billed as the world's tallest hotel - the level of hype increases exponentially.  I'm one of those people who stay as far away as I possibly can from hyped up places, and so I've never really been tempted to try out any of the dining options inside this hotel.

Yes, it's a hundred and some floors up... although with the way Hong Kong counts floors, I wonder what the real floor number is... Yes, I'm sure the view is spectacular...  BUT WHAT ABOUT THE FOOD?!  The reality is that every single person who has dined in the hotel - among those whose opinion I trust - has come away panning the food at each and every outlet.  NOT ONE favorable review from my fellow foodies.

So I was a little curious to check the place out for myself when I was asked to do a review of the Lounge and Bar, located on the "102nd" floor of the building.  I immediately asked Mrs. Dyson to come along, knowing that she is on holiday today and would be able to cross the harbor for lunch.

We arrived at 12pm sharp, fearing that the place would be crowded with diners eager to take in the view.  We need not have worried, as the place remained less than half full during the entire lunch service.  We were led to a sofa window-side facing the harbor.  It seems that the view takes center stage here, and the hotel had decided to build one long stretch of counter along the window.  In all honesty, this feels more like a bar instead of a restaurant - which is probably what the hotel had in mind.

The bread basket was very ho-hum - bread was a little too moist on the outside.  I had expected better.

We decided to share a starter, two main courses and a dessert between us:

Baked Provencal vegetables, apple balsamic vinaigrette - this was OK, but the garlic mash in the vinaigrette was rather surprising...

Hainanese chicken rice, chili, dark soy sauce, ginger and chicken broth - supposedly one of the signature dishes here, but it really wasn't all that...  First of all, nobody asked us whether we wanted breast meat or drumstick - and I would expect an establishment like this to give their customers a choice.  Second, the chicken was slightly on the dry side, and in any case tasted rather bland.  The dark soy sauce was actually too sweet and so was the chili sauce.  The chicken broth tasted like byproduct of a dishwasher.  Finally, the rice seemed to be the "healthy" version... meaning there was clearly not enough chicken fat and broth used to make the rice.

8 oz. U.S. Angus cheese burger, red onions, vine tomato and pickled gherkin - we asked for medium-rare and it was OK.  The seasoning was a little on the heavy side, distracting us from the natural flavors of the beef.  The burger bun was very nice - toasty on the outside (and even the underside) but soft on the inside.  The fries were decent.

Classic carrot cake, cheese frosting, caramel nougat ice cream - the cake arrived looking a little dry, but actually tasted pretty moist.  Lemon was used to make the frosting, and I'm not sure how classic that makes it...  The ice cream was the big winner for me... with plenty of caramel crunch.  Yum!

2008 Kim Crawford Merlot - I asked for a recommendation and this was what I got.  An utterly forgettable glass of wine.  I used to have a much better impression of Kim Crawford's wines... until today.

Mrs. Dyson and I took in the spectacular view of Victoria Harbor on this beautiful sunny day, and caught up after not seeing each other for a month.  I even caught sight of the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan parked in Hong Kong waters, and used my camera to confirm that it was indeed an aircraft carrier.  As we had both expected, the view performed better than the food.

I was a little surprised when I saw the bill.  I had meant to order the very expensive Matsusaka (sic) beef burger, edible golden leaf, foie gras, black truffle and morel mushroom.  This was another signature dish and cost almost 5 times as much as the Angus burger.  Unfortunately as I pointed at the menu with my finger while ordering, my fingertip actually landed on the description of the Angus burger...  At the time I had meant to "point to" the Matsuzaka burger printed on the line above by covering up the unwanted line of text with my finger, but I guess there was a misunderstanding.  And Mrs. Dyson and I were too busy catching up to notice the missing foie gras in our burger, which would have been a giveaway.  Oh well...

For the very concise version in AsiaTatler Dining, please visit here.


Michelle Chin said...

LOL! the chicken broth tastes like a byproduct of dishwasher... I cannot imagine that.

Unknown said...

to summarize the whole experience in two words, nice view! heheheh


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