Friday, September 2, 2011

Mandarin Grill + Bar (Hong Kong)

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Many restaurants and chefs nowadays have the tendency to categorize themselves in the different schools of ... gastronomy, be it molecular, avant-garde, traditional, new cuisines or something as extreme as emotional cuisines, they are all different styles of cooking aiming to put creativity into every-changing culinary experiences. It can be quite confusing indeed to imagine the cuisine by their name or category. At Mandarin Grill, the chef likes to call his cooking progressive gastronomy. So what sort of cooking is progressive gastronomy? It is difficult to describe in a few words but if I understand the concept correctly, it puts emphasis on presentation, a strong visual as well as direct stimulation of the 5 senses.


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Thanks for the invitation by Mandarin Oriental, I had the opportunity to experience a visually stunning meal. This is a case which the phrase "a picture is worth a thousand words," so I will let the images speak for themselves. The first item was the soup named TOMATO. Consisting of condensed heirloom tomatoes clear soup, it was then poured into a clear tea pot to dissolve the so-called tea bags to release the dried condiments. That was just the beginning! The soup in the tea pot was then poured into a prepared bowl with ingredients finely decorated on the bottom of it. The tomato flavor was quite pungent on the first sip but slowly blend with your taste bud to make it quite a refreshing soup to start with. Again, visually appealing to most people I would assume, and it would taste the same if delivered pre-poured.

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The next dish I had was the PRAWNS which were severed sashimi style and were presented in a way that reassemble an actual pond. Some of the rocks / pebbles were edible as well. As long as the prawns were fresh, it was quite hard to get it wrong right? I forgot about the details but the golden powder on top of the prawns actually melt over time and the resulting sauce slowly wraps around the prawns to provide the needed flavors on every bite. Again, visually stunning and beautifully presented. However, for those into Food Photography, not the most friendly dish to take picture of!

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The next dish was called VEGETABLES. The main focus was not the choice of vegetables or the cured ham that accompanied it, those were rather ordinary if you ask me; it was the cedar wood plate that was the key. The little black hole on the middle was a result of actually burning. Apparently, prior to serving this dish, the cedar wood was heated with a small flame through the hole in the middle so to give off the cedar wood aroma while consuming this dish. The sense of smell is quite important to any dish it worked very well with this dish.

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The same theory was applied to the next dish named PORK. Instead of the sense of smell, it was towards the visual effect with smoke (dry ice perhaps?) at the bottom as if being grilled table-side.

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COD was the name of the next dish. Wrapped in seaweed, the flaky juicy cod was hiding underneath. The whole thing was like a piece of rock. Slightly of the salty side, make sure you have more cod than the seaweed so to balance out the flavours. Oh right, the mussels shells were edible as well!

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We tried three desserts that afternoon, the first was the OREO which was quite rich but certainly a popular choice among Oreo lovers. However, the OREO dish would be overwhelmed by the followed two desserts!

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STRAWBERRY was the highlight of the afternoon for me, I was almost tricked by the look of the strawberries on the plate or the field? Both visually stunning and creative, the strawberries were made of sorbet and ice cream and some jam fillings! Thumbs up!

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Visually stunning once again, the CHAMPAGNE dessert was quite something. Everything plate was edible, the bubbles were made of Champagne jelly while the while bottle was made of cake. Effort and dedication is required to create something like this. Thumbs up once again!

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Likes:
  • Visually stunning! Presentation was wonderful, along with appropriate stimulation of the five senses for each of the dishes. 
  • I quite enjoyed the TOMATO soup, quite strong on first sip and slowly smooth out in the mouth. 
Dislikes: 
  • COD - slightly on the salty side especially with the seaweed. 
  • With the great presentation and creativity, it was more of an art form. With this sort of plating, it requires time and the faster the better because the food may get cold. 
Avg Spending: by invitation 

5 Connaught Road, Central Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2522 0111





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