When most people think of Ozone at the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong, they think of it as a place to go for cocktails to admire the incredible view from the highest bar in the world. Until recently, I didn’t even know the place had a food menu. It turns out it has quite an extensive tapas menu put together by Brazilian chef Rafael Gil, which you can enjoy alongside your cocktails whilst admiring the incredible view. What it also has, unbeknown to most, is Rafa’s Private Kitchen, a private dining room with a custom menu of eight to 10 courses, personally presented by Chef Rafa himself.
I was invited to join a pre-Chinese New Year celebration at Rafa’s Private Kitchen. The private dining room itself is pretty grand, with a gold table cloth, gold panelled wall décor and gold sequinned cushions in a nook by the window. Put this décor anywhere else, and it would be considered tacky, yet, here, it kind of suits. Since this room is further round than the outdoor balcony, it almost feels as if you get your own private view of Hong Kong here, which only you can see.
Our eight-course menu began with a ‘welcome cocktail’ in edible form. Chef Rafa gave us a demonstration using all sorts of gadgets that produced spheres of carbonated mojito. Each sphere was artfully served on a half lime and tasted just like its cocktail counterpart. It was certainly a refreshing start to the evening.
To follow, came the oyster tartare with marbled beef and Prunier caviar. There were a lot of strong flavours going on here, which some people found a bit too much. It probably wouldn’t be my choice of tartare, but I did appreciate the creativity.
I loved the Hokkaido scallop with 48-month Iberico ham. Sat on a bed of pea purée and topped with muskmelon foam, this combined the flavours of two failsafe dishes all in one exceptional bite.
Another impressive dish was the gin and pomegranate-marinated salmon with beetroot and cucumber, topped with olive oil ‘snow’. It was beautifully presented, the colours so vibrant and inviting, and tasted divine. Although obviously the name kind of gives it away, I was pleasantly surprised by how much the olive oil snow, which was added by Chef Rafa after serving, really tasted of the highest quality olive oil and brought all the fresh flavours together.
Foie gras and truffle are rich and decadent on their own; put them together and that’s a whole different ball game. The golden enoki mushroom consommé with foie gras royale, topped with black truffle, with a side of black truffle ‘rocks’ was wonderfully silky and rich, but I couldn’t finish it if I wanted to reach the end of the meal!
The final savoury dish was easily my favourite: Spanish mar y montaña with hoisin sauce. With beautiful Spanish red prawns and crispy suckling pig, drizzled in sticky hoisin sauce, this was not only a perfect match of surf and turf, but also combined Spanish and Chinese cuisines in a seamless way.
As I may have mentioned once or twice, in my opinion, combining chocolate and orange is a sin against chocolate. So, although I appreciated how pretty the chocolate and mandarin éclair looked sitting in its cloud of ‘mandarin aroma’, this dessert was not for me.
In any case, I preferred to save space for dessert number two: raspberry jelly and mascarpone sablé with berry yoghurt ice cream. This was not only stunning to look at, but tasted amazing too – not too sweet, but sweet enough to give you that necessary satisfaction, and a lovely contrast in textures.
Petits fours came in the form of a cute macaron cactus, with a lai see packet attached for good luck. The pistachio and matcha macarons were perfect, whilst I couldn’t stop scooping out spoonful after spoonful of the chocolate cookie ‘soil’.
Rafa’s Private Kitchen can be booked up to two days in advance for a minimum of four people and is priced at $980 per person. For the creativity and attention to detail, the impeccable and personal service, the quality of ingredients, and the fact that you’re dining in a world-class hotel, 490 metres above sea level (so high that you’re in fact looking down over the skyline), I’d say this is actually quite a steal.
Rafa’s Private Kitchen at Ozone
The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong
118/F, International Commerce Centre
1 Austin Road West
Tsim Sha Tsui
Tel: +852 2263 2270