When you’re in Hong Kong and you’re hungry, come Saturday morning, what do you do? Visit Amber for their Wine Brunch for that was what I did.
Alright, the sheer convenience of walking directly from my hotel to the adjacent mall, all in the comforts of an air conditioned sheltered above-ground walkway did it for me too.
For HKD$698++, you get to 6 courses (3 of which are desserts) all accompanied with wines selected by their sommelier.
For starters, there is the glass of champagne to accompany the amuse bouche – Jelliedfied melon.
Paired with n/v veuve clicquot ponsardin ‘brut’ chardonnay, pinot noir & pinot meunier ◦ reims ◦ france ◦ ◦
Other quick bites before the meal started included a Pork croquette with kimchi mustard and;
Foie gras lollip rapberry and beetroot
Helming the 2-Michelin star restaurant is Chef Richard Ekkebus who (according to Amber’s website) has trained in the kitchens of Alain Passard, Guy Savoy and Pierre Gagnaire.
From what I hear, Chef Richard personally sees to the cooking in the restaurant – a.k.a, he is not one who just lends his name to the restaurant – he actually physically oversees and (I hear) cooks certain dishes! He is definitely one passionate chef!
I think this paragraph lifted from Amber’s website epitomizes his spirit and passion in cooking.
Genuine delight registers on his expressive face in sharing the most recent arrivals with his diners, from Turkish figs to Japanese sea urchins. He credits his restaurant-owning grandparents with teaching him how to pick the best apples in Fall and berries during Summer, and how to hunt and fish near their seaside Holland home.
While he calls his upbringing “the best apprenticeship”, he also recognizes the Michelin-starred Dutch chefs Hans Snijders and Robert Kranenborg who taught him how to cook, and the French masters under whom he refined his skills. Alain Passard taught him that every ingredient must be purposeful. He bonded with Guy Savoy on the rugby field then learned how to think globally about cuisine. He mastered technique under Pierre Gagnaire, who simultaneously showed him the importance of trusting his intuition in the kitchen. The sixteen-hour days he reminisces, “were not a job, but a passion.”
Paired with the ◦2008 telmo rodriguez ‘basa blanco’ verjeho ◦ rueda ◦ spain ◦ ◦ ◦ is the hokkaido sea urchin in a lobster jell-O with cauliflower paired with a crispy seaweed waffle on the side.
I love sea urchin and the freshness of it alone pretty much did it for me. A small top up would have included a topping of caviar to the sea urchin, which would have brought this dish up a notch in the ‘luxury’ quotient. However, to me, simplicity is the best, so I chose to do away with the caviar.
I did not really care much for the crispy seaweed waffle but it tasted, for lack of a better word, rather normal, to me.
Paired with the 2008 hiedller grüner veltliner ◦ kamptal ◦ austria ◦ ◦ ◦ is the 2nd course – tasmanian salmon confit then smoked served on a bed of avocado, horseradish & granny smith apple.
The salmon was beautifully cooked – pink in the centre and was moist throughout. The technique of smoking the salmon lent a rather alluring smoky taste to the fish.
I especially liked the mixture of avocado, horseradish and granny smith apples – from the seemingly harmonious medley of flavours to the texture of it.
The luscious wine reduction complimented the fish perfectly.
The third course was a ceps mushroom & carnaroli rice risotto topped with with table side grated mature beaufort cheese. I am by far, no cheese connesieur. But boy, I have to admit that the cheese did lend a very distinct sharpness to the rich risotto. That said, me being me, I would have preferred it to be served without it!
The shavings of the fresh black tasmanian winter truffles were definitely a welcome choice in my dictionary.
For my main course, I chose to have the tasmanian ocean troute, which was roasted unilateral on the skin, quinoa & wild mushrooms prepared as a risotto, jus de poularde.
Again, like the salmon confit, the fish was cooked beautifully.
However, the quinoa & wild mushroom risotto just didn’t do it. I can’t really say why, perhaps it’s a matter of personal preference and I’ll leave it as that.
The main course was paired with an excellent 2007 nicolas potel pinot noir ◦ burgundy ◦ france.
First and foremost, I am not that into desserts, so my opinions may be somewhat bias but personally, I felt, that the desserts were the weak point of Amber.
Out of the 3 desserts, my favourite has to be the Jasmine fruit prepared as a jello & custard with granny smith sorbet.
I like the lightness of the dessert, with the slightly tard sorbet cutting through the lightly sweetened jellow and custard.
P.S. I heard from that waitress that it was the chef’s first day serving this dessert.
Lime chiboust in crispy cannelloni, coconut biscuit with pineapple sorbet
This was far too sweet for my tongue and I didn’t finish it up.
That said, I liked the presentation of the dish!
The last dessert on the menu is the manjari chocolate sabayon on ‘sable’ sugar paste with lemon zest sorbet.
This was okay in my dictionary. Again, like the previous dessert, this just didn’t sweep me off my feet.
Amber Restaurant Central Hong Kong
15 Queen’s Road, The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, The Landmark, Central, Hong Kong
Telephone: +852 2132 0066