August 11, 2015

A quick pick me up

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I'm watching the opening film of the Cine Fan Summer International Film Festival 2015 - Hou Hsiao-Hsien (侯孝賢)'s The Assassin (刺客 聶隱娘) - tonight.  Since the movie theater is in the Elements mall, I decided to use this opportunity to check out a restaurant for the first time.

I've never been to Tosca at the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong.  When the restaurant first opened, the feedback I heard was mostly negative, so I pretty much wrote off the restaurant.  I watched as the restaurant garnered a macaron from the Rubberman, but still I was unmoved.  None of my regular eating accomplices talk about going there for a meal, so I stayed away.

But I needed a venue for the pre-movie dinner, which ruled out places like Tenku RyuGin (天空龍吟) with their 10-course menu.  Chinese food was also not a viable option as there were only two of us, so Tosca seemed to fit my requirements...

I had thought about maybe taking four courses from their Estate Menu, but they didn't seem to appeal to Hello Kitty.  So à la carte it was, then...

We started with our amuse bouche, which was an arancino along with a ball of couscous, as well as a couple of salmon roe on the side.

Tiramisù di mare: barretta di cereali su gamberi rossi, capasanta e cremino soffice di prezzemolo - the idea of a "sea tiramisù" sounded interesting, so we both decided to try it out.  The actual "tiramisù" - which looked like a piece of white fish at first glance - was made from Mascarpone with squid ink-flavored puffed cereal at the bottom, sitting on a bed of red prawn carpaccio. The fluffy, creamy cheese worked well with raw prawn and the scallop.  The ring of parsley and basil cream, however, was completely bland.  The best part, though, was the piece of flattened, dehydrated prawn "cracker".  It was kinda like one of them Japanese prawn senbei (煎餅), and I loved the intense, concentrated flavors.

Riso acquerello in bianco, pancetta caramellata e pesto ligure - this was recommended as it is "unusual"... a risotto with "white tomatoes" (which are not white but yellow), in a pale color due to burrata cheese.  The flavors here were a little unusual, as the tomatoes added a good amount of acidity.  I was a little surprised to find crunchy bits here, which I took to be diced onions that were not cooked until they melted.  Of course, those cubes of pancetta were just so sinful... but oh-so-good!

Minestrone di frutta estiva con gelato al mascarpone e basilico - I chose this because I wanted a refreshing dessert, even though the staff had recommended the tiramisù.  When I placed my order to the staff, the guy must have thought he was being helpful by reminding me that this "is not salty"... as if I couldn't work that out while holding a dessert menu.  Anyway, this was exactly what I needed.  Diced mango, pineapple, apricot, and wild strawberries.  Very tropical.  Served with a quenelle of gelato, although I couldn't taste the basil in the gelato.  I did taste the basil in the soup, though... along with cinnamon.  I was a happy camper.

Finally, a trio of petits fours to finish.  The orange sponge cake was covered with limoncello icing.  The cube of chocolate was supposedly made with 100% cocoa... but there was sugar here to make it pretty sweet.  Finally, the chocolate-covered cherry was filled with chocolate inside, and the chocolate/cherry mixture ended up staining the front of my shirt.  Sigh...

I thought the food I had was pretty tasty, although I was surprised at the very limited choices on offer.  The only real complaint I have?  Service.  In this case, OVER-attentive service.  I was just trying to have a simple and nice dinner... and while it is nice that you come over and ask me how things are, I really didn't need you to do that after every dish...  I also didn't need you to come over and check on me just because I decided to turn around and look at the fountain behind me (and the open kitchen in the distance)...  Finally, when I'm deep in conversation and you decide to come over and barge in by starting off with "Sorry to disturb"... well, have you considered NOT disturbing/barging in? Or wait until there's a pause in our conversation?

But the evening was generally a success, and I went to the movie screening with a satiated palate.  Let's see when I'm next in the hood...

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