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Amber, Hong Kong - Has the food improved?!

Charles Yu Oct 13, 2007 07:09 PM

A couple of years ago, whilst visiting HK, I was captured by an article profiling the executive chef ' Richard Ekkebus' of the French restaurant Amber in the then newly opened Landmark Mandarin Oriental. His impressive resume which included training under Michelin three-star chefs Pierre Gagnaire, Alain Passard and Guy Savoy was enough to persuade me to give the restaurant a try. The French fusion cuisine though fairly good was less sophisticated and delicious than most European Michelin starred establishments manned by chefs of similar calibre. ( only dish I remembered was I think an Anjou pigeon with aubergine lasagna and some kind of chocolate foam emulsion - a la El Bulli?! )

Question - I'll be visiting HK in the near future and would like to have at least one or two ' Western feast ' amongst all the anticipated Chinese fare. Has Amber improved during the past year to warrant my giving it another chance? Or, shall I use the $ for something else like the ever trust-worthy Petrus or Spoon or the newly opened L'atalier de Robouchon? I tried Pierre on top of the Mandarin Oriental a few months back and was not that impressed.

  1. HKTraveler Oct 13, 2007 11:33 PM

    Charles, haven't been to Amber for some time though I have never enjoyed the food there that much. It simply doesn't taste that good!

    Out of the ones that you listed, I like L'Atelier the best. Fantastic food and as good, if not better, than the one in Tokyo. I guess the question is why would you travel so far to HK to eat at L'Atelier when you can have that in other cities as well.

    I liked the tasting menu at Pierre but its a la carte menu is not that good. Fancy and complicated preparation since it is really 3 to 4 dishes rolled into one but it doesn't taste that food either.

    Look forward to your report.

    7 Replies
    1. re: HKTraveler
      palmbox Oct 27, 2007 05:49 AM

      Thanks HKTraveler.

      About Spoon, have you tested it ? After l'Atelier, can we say that Spoon is the following best french restaurant in HK ?

      Thanks

      1. re: palmbox
        HKTraveler Oct 28, 2007 07:22 AM

        Been there twice. Think the first time was good and the second time was average. Haven't been back for some time though. HK simply has too many restaurants to try (and I don't eat out as often anymore)

      2. re: HKTraveler
        Charles Yu Oct 27, 2007 06:21 PM

        After reading Fourseason's rave write up on Da Domenico, may be I'll give it a try instead.
        I'll be spending three days in Tokyo after my stay in HK. At first, I was thinking of giving L'Atelier in Ropponghi Hill a try, but now, I'm considering Le Manoir d'Hastings instead. ( Decision based on pure curiosity! Since I'm interested to see how a restaurant can jump to No.3 on the Zagat top 10 list after failing to make the top 40 last year!! Also, I've eaten in Robouchon's Paris and Macau restaurants, so guess its time for a change! ).
        I'm also planning to give Ryugin and Restaurant Hiramatsu a try. Better bring my 'Tums' along!!
        BTW, HK Traveler, where are you based? May be we can link up in HK and have a mini chowhound-meet?

        1. re: Charles Yu
          FourSeasons Oct 27, 2007 09:30 PM

          Hi Charles Yu: I hope Da is consistent as I have been there only one time. Try the Vongole, grilled Calamari, Linguini Scampi. I hope you will not be disappointed. BTW, when will you be in Hong Kong? Looking forward to read your reviews of the restauarnts on this trip so that we can add more to "go to" list on our next trips.

          1. re: FourSeasons
            Charles Yu Oct 28, 2007 06:36 AM

            Hello Fourseasons! ( Apart from being a CH, are you also a 'Vivaldi' fan too?! Ha! )
            FYI, I'll be in HK 1 March '08 for two weeks. Last time I was in HK, I had a nice meal at Cova, also in Causeway Bay. Have you been? How does Da compare? My favourite Italian in HK used to be Grissini in the Grand Hyatt, but the last couple of times I found the food underwhelming and portion minutely small. A surprise find was Aqua on 1 Peking road. Though touristy by some standard, the plate of pasta with South China sea seafood was extremely tasty. Its also fun to be able to start with say, a skewer of Kobe beef yakiniku and a few pieces of sushi, before an Italian entree!
            Lastly, one of the best plate of pasta I had wasn't in Italy but in Tokyo, of all places. Its Spaghettini with fresh Hokkaido king crab meat in a light cherry tomato/basil sauce. Totally sensational!

            1. re: Charles Yu
              FourSeasons Oct 28, 2007 07:34 AM

              That is still a long time. I thought you are going to Hong Kong and Tokyo soon, this is a good time to have all the winter seasonal food. I have never tried Cova. I like Grissini, it is just that Da is even better. Never tried Aqua too; I was going to try Hutong (next to Aqua) on this visit but end up at Sheung Hing Chiu Chow, which is another excellent place that is hardly mentioned here at Chowhound.
              You are making me hungry with your description of pasta+Hokkaido king crab. I was too busy trying Japanese food in Tokyo so never even venture to italian territory. But I had Hokkaido crab in one of my favorite restaurant in Tokyo called Nabura that specialized on seasonal Japanese seafood. Oh no, now I am really really hungry.....
              No doubt Hong Kong and Tokyo have some of the best food in the world. Will be in Hong Kong again in December and will let you know if I have new discovery.

          2. re: Charles Yu
            HKTraveler Oct 28, 2007 07:37 AM

            Two weeks in HK and then 3 days in Tokyo, that sounds like a lot of good eating!

            I am based in HK. Please email me at hongkongtraveler at gmail.com

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