Amber

I am currently down with an infection and a severe bout of allergies (I’ve been having a lot of those lately) and thinking about all the food I am missing made me reminisce about one of the best Michelin experiences I’ve had so far: the two Michelin star Amber at the Mandarin Oriental Hongkong.

Now this is a long overdue post, one year in the making but the experience is just too good not to share.

My friends and I got a private room for our lunch and since we were in Hongkong to gorge on delicious food, we decided to go with their lunch wine menu – one glass each with starter, middle  course, and main course.

Who says we can’t have wine during lunch?!?

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When I first heard that we could potentially take four hours, I immediately thought, how can lunch take that much time? But when the first dish was served, I thought, oh now, I get it.

Duck colvert – A very rich foie gras, pâté en croûte, and sicilian pistacchio with spiced mango chutney.

I normally cannot tolerate too much pate, so having the starchiness of the crust  break that richness, and the sweetness of the mango to stave off the saltiness was a clever foil for it. It was an explosion of different flavors, all rich but perfectly complement each other. On a side note though, it was rather too heavy for me – I felt full midway through the pate en croute, but still finished it because it was too good to pass up. And the Chilean white wine was the perfect drink to wash it with.
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Oh, and let’s not forget the bread? I am a big bread person after all. 😂 I love that they offered different kinds of bread to satisfy just about every preference.

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For my middle course, I chose the cuttlefish – ala carbonara, served with quail egg yolk, charred pearl onions, and smoked alsatian bacon. And because we were feeling festive, it was Christmas season afterall, we got some table shaved alba white truffle to go with our meal. I love white fish, onions and bacon, and while the different textures and flavors worked well, after the richness of the pate, it was a tad too gentle on the taste buds for me, even with the truffle.

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I was literally bursting at the seams by the time our main course was served but who can say to to this:

Aveyron lamb – ribs braised in pinot noir, boulangere potatoes with taggiasche olives, tomato olives, and mizuna leaves. I have no words but I hope I did it a bit of justice with the photo below:

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The next plate was the chef’s selection of French unpasteurized cheeses. I love cheese but I often get disapponted with the spartan offering of most restos, so I had very little hope that this case would be different. Well, I was pleasantly surprised! The cheese plate was obviously carefully curated, with the varieties that go well with each other served in small portions – big enough to more than just whet your appetite, but small enough to not make you gag.

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And as if the cheese plate was not enough, we had a dessert of pineapple confit – with grilled millefeuille, grand cru madagascar vanilla cream, licorice, lime and yoghurt mousse, and exotic fruit sorbet. I’m not too fond of pineapple, licorice or lime (I don’t like sour/citrusy food in general, except as garnishing), but I enjoyed it enough to finish half and that is saying something.

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The last itme on the menu is dulcey chocolate – the caramelized macadamia and peanut butter sorbet was just heavenly! Now this is the dessert I love!

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We had tea and petit fours to round up our wonderful lunch!

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Food Trippin’ The Michelin Star Way

I guess it’s a pretty known fact that HK is one of my favorite destinations abroad – it’s just a two-hour flight (shorter than going to Fairview from Makati on a weeknight), and it has theme parks (kid at heart here!), shopping (hello, outlet stores!), and perhaps the best reason of all: it is a paradise for foodies like me.

For my trip with my friends last holiday season, we wanted it to be as laid back as possible, and maybe sneak in a couple of tourist spots. But our main agenda was, yes, you guessed it: FOOD.

And we couldn’t even wait until we stepped out of the airport. First stop – the one Michelin star Ho Hung Kee. We were initially planning on going to their main outlet over at Hysan Place in Causeway Bay but as we where about to step out of the airport, we noticed that there is actually a Ho Hung Kee right there!

We weren’t really that hungry so we just got some shrimp siomai, noodles, and of course, their world famous congee.

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To be honest, I am not a dimsum fan. In fact, I don’t even like Chinese food that much (or maybe, I grew up eating too much of it that I had grown too used to it). But their siomai was so good. Ever thought of how some siomais tend to rely on their main ingredient, like if it’s pork, it’s just the pork that carries the entire dish? Well, the meat of this one was equal parts sweet and salty, and the shrimp was fresh and tender and not gummy at all. Even the yellow wrap was very tasty – I wanted to cut the siomai into different parts so I could taste each. And the crab roe added a nice texture to the siomai. I didn’t even need my usual soy sauce/chili/calamansi mix!

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We couldn’t decide on what noodle dish to get so we got the house specialty wonton noodles in soup. The wonton was good! Same with the siomai, the wrapper itself was tasty. And, the noodles were also a bit sweet! A welcome surprise as I had gotten used to salty noodles. Plus, the dish itself was very heavy – we split all our food into three parts but we still could not finish everything.

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For our finale – we got their abalone, pork and chicken congee. I was expecting a lot from their congee since this was what got them on the Michelin list. But, I was quite taken aback that it was… Sweet. The porridge was a little too sweet for my taste, and the rice too fine that it felt like I was eating puree. I had to drizzle pepper and salt on mine before I could eat it. It was good and tasty, with the individual ingredients all accounted for in terms of taste and yet creating a whole that was greater than each part but, maybe for my Pinoy tastebuds, it wasn’t what I was expecting in a congee. I was expecting something along the lines of my beloved arroz caldo with all its ginger, chicken, salt, and atsuete seed coloring but got something like ginataan malagkit, minus the coconut and a tad less sweet.

All in all, I would still recommend Ho Hung Kee, if only to experience that authentic congee and dimsum. And, for a Michelin-rated restaurant, the price was pretty much hard to beat: our entire meal only costs us about HK$600, with drinks.

(Watch out for the next parts of my HK Food Trip!)