Everything about the Mandarin Oriental Hotel oozes the kind of old-school elegance and charm that has almost disappeared from Hong Kong. After a recent Krug tasting dinner at Otto e Mezzo, we were invited to the Mandarin Oriental’s Krug Room. From start to finish, this was an experience to remember, beginning with being led like a VIP through the lush, cosy Chinnery, to a private dining room for 12 people.
The room itself is beautiful; above the long marble table hang single red roses and light fixtures made from plates, bowls and saucers, while a large glass window almost the length of the room overlooks the chefs hard at work in the kitchen.
Our menu, written on a blackboard as a collection of words in crossword format, consisted of 17 courses. How does one write a review of a 17-course dinner? With great difficulty… which is why it’s taken me longer than usual to get around to writing it. I think everyone would get bored if I went course by course, so I’ll give you a selection of the high points, the low points and the mightily spectacular points.
It all began with a ‘Cornet’ – beef tartare and avocado in an ice cream cone. The combination of the tender beef, buttery avocado and sweet, crunchy cone worked perfectly, setting the bar high for the rest of the meal.
The second course, a beef cracker with foie gras terrine and edible flowers was beautiful, although I’m not sure I could taste the beef in the cracker, perhaps because it was overpowered by the flavours of the rich foie gras. Nevertheless, it won me over and I definitely wished for more.
Course number five was called ‘Tinned’ and consisted of strips of hamachi in tomato purée with lemon gel and crystal leaves, beautifully presented in a cute little tin. The hamachi was wonderfully fresh and delicious, yet disappointingly the powerful flavour of the tomato purée completely masked it.
One of my favourites, although it doesn’t look like much, was the King Crab. After hollowing out the crab, the flesh was mixed with mayonnaise and verbena leaf before being carefully put back in its shell. Although there was a touch too much mayo, the flavour of the crabmeat was just divine. Served alongside it was an oyster leaf that tasted remarkably like its namesake.
Perhaps the most disappointing of the dishes was the smoked lobster. As soon as it was brought into the room the aromas were incredible; in the centre of the wooden board was an opening for burning cedar wood, to create that amazing charcoal fragrance. However, it definitely smelt better than it tasted; the lobster was very undercooked and completely lacked any flavour, unless it was smeared in thyme oil.
It was towards the end of the meal that things started to pick up… course number 13 was an 18 week old suckling pig. It was wonderfully tender with perfectly crisp skin to match. Although the disc of black truffle jelly added nothing to the dish, the apple toffee sauce was lovely.
The last of the savoury courses was beef tenderloin. Served on tapioca ‘coals’, sweet roasted carrots and brioche powder, the idea was for it to appear as though the beef were sitting on hot coals. In all honesty, the tapioca had zero flavour and the brioche powder was only useful for writing messages and drawing smiley faces in. Yet the beef was cooked to perfection and was as tender as its name suggests, so this was definitely one of my favourite dishes.
The final three courses were dessert, and here is where the meal really shone. Firstly, a ‘Banana Split’ consisted of banana purée sandwiched between vanilla and strawberry ice cream, encased in white chocolate made to look just like a mini banana, drizzled in decadent chocolate sauce. I loved this.
‘Breakfast’ came next: a crème brûlée ‘boiled egg’ encased in a sugar shell, a sweet egg yolk, a raisin brioche ‘French toast’ and crispy bacon. Although it looked impressive, the whole thing was just far too sweet and rich, especially after 15 other courses.
The absolute spectacle of the evening was ‘Krug on the Moon’. We were asked to move everything from the centre of the table so that a long silicone mat could be rolled across it, before being decorated with all kinds of different textures of chocolate, biscuits, coconut cream, and of course the ‘moons’ themselves. The final touch was when hot chocolate sauce was poured over the spheres to reveal a melange of chocolate mousse, pop rocks and raspberries. We were each given a spoon and left to attack. Yes, the whole thing was outrageously sweet, but this time it was definitely worth it.
Of course the meal would not have been complete without glass after glass of delicious Krug Grande Cuvée, which went down far too easily for a Monday night.
Service was utterly faultless throughout the whole meal and the staff made sure to give us intricate explanations of each dish. As I said previously, it was definitely an experience to remember, but one that I think I could only manage once in my life. Plus at over $2000 a head, unless someone else is paying, it’s just a little bit out of my budget. Just a little.
The Krug Room
5 Connaught Road Central
Tel: +852 2825 4014