Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Dinner with a View

It was our last night in Hong Kong and it was officially “date night”.

As much as I longed to try L’Atelier de Robuchon in Landmark or Bo Innovation in Wan Chai, I was just not in the mood to travel far from our hotel. I check my Michelin Guide for something in the area and picked out a resto that was within our budget and not more than ten minutes by cab.

Since Timmy and Cielo were having dinner at a restaurant below, Matt and I decided to have dinner at Aqua, located high above One Peking Road at Tsim Sha Tsui. The elevator took us directly to the restaurant’s lobby where we were greeted by the receptionists. I avoid using the word “chic” since it seems cliché, but it really is the best way to describe it. The frosted acrylic walkway is dimly-lit from below which gives you the feeling of walking on a cloud (or at least, what I imagined it to feel like).

You are then ushered up a few steps towards an automatic glass door that opens into a high-ceilinged dining room. A glass wall three stories high frames the priceless view of the harbor and Hong Kong’s famous skyline. It makes you wonder how much this piece of property must cost. The dark interiors are punctuated by the hanging red lanterns and flickering candles atop hard wood tables. The feel is very cosmopolitan and very posh.

As we requested, we were seated right by the window, which we figured out was not necessary since it seems that the dining room was configured in such a way so that all tables look out onto the harbor. It was a bit tight getting in and out of the couch seat, but other than that, it was a pretty cozy spot.

We ordered a bottle of Italian red wine- a very young (sorry, I forget the vintage) Fontanafredda Eremo, which is a Barbera and Nebbiolo blend. It was very easy to drink, and I remember liking it even more after an hour or so in the glass.

A unique feature of the restaurant is that it serves both Italian and Japanese food. Matt and I love both, but since we favor pizza more than sushi, we opted to go Italian. For our first course, we decided to share the Canelloni with Goat Cheese, Veal Shank Ragout and Spinach Cream, topped by a Porcini Mushroom. Wow! What a stunning dish! Unfortunately, the flavors do not match the presentation- more sex appeal than substance. What a pity.

Hugely disappointed by the first course, I waited for the entrees with mounting dread. Within minutes, our main courses were placed before us. Mine was the Black Angus Tenderloin , Foie Gras, Spinach and Sweet and Sour Pearl Onions. The beef was so incredibly tender it was like chewing on a marshmallow. The flavors all around it were very subtle, allowing the meatiness of the prime cut to shine. The foie added just the right amount of richness, and was also seared to perfection.

Matt also had foie in mind and ordered the Pizza with Duck Confit and Roasted Foie Gras. The crust was thin and crispy, just what we expected from a good pizza. The duck, though, could have been more seasoned. Matt thought this was ok but I could tell he was not completely happy with it. Guiltily, I share my juicy steak with him.

As we waited for dessert, Timmy and Cielo arrived and joined us after their dinner at Hutong. Dessert was a Warm Chocolate Cake with Hazelnut Ice Cream. If you do not like dark chocolate like Cielo, this is not for you. Matt and I liked it, though, loving the bittersweet and gooey center of the cake and the creamy gelato on the side.

We were also given complimentary Grapes soaked in Grappa (a strong Italian spirit made by distilling the pomace of grapes) which acted like a digestivo. It adds a nice touch to the fancy meal.

Although it was a pleasant meal, I would not visit this restaurant again for the reason that I know I could have better food for the price I paid. I can imagine why people come here- the interiors are beautiful and the view, priceless. Come here if you want to impress a hot date, maybe a supermodel that eats paper for breakfast. Otherwise, bring your Hong Kong dollars elsewhere.

After dinner, we met Jin at the lobby of One Peking and then we dropped by the Tapas Bar at Kowloon Shangri-la where Timmy had to meet up with some colleagues for some after-conference schmoozing. The rest of us had some drinks in another table while we waited for him and our other friend, Wolfgang.

After a shot of tequila, Cielo was ready to call it a night, while the rest of us went to Kimberley Road for drinks at Knutsford Terrace. We went to this bar called All Night Long, which is manned by an all-Filipino staff- from the band to the bartenders. We had fun dancing to 80’s glam rock songs and doing shots. Hungry after all that dancing, Wolfgang volunteered to walk to Ashley Road and pick up some Doner Kebabs from Ebeneezer’s. Needless to say, we devoured most of it, and brought home a couple of extras. Until this day, Timmy regrets giving us the two remaining Kebabs and not taking back one to the hotel.

We left All Night Long at around 2:30AM to bring Jin home to her pad in Clearwater Bay and got back to our hotel at 5:30AM. Yes, it was quite the joy ride, truly a very memorable one. Well, for most of us at least. Jin admits that she cannot remember anything from the time we sat on the bar at All Night Long.

I love Hong Kong.

29 & 30/F One Peking Road
Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Tel. no. (852) 25459889

All Night Long
9 Knutsford Terrace
Kimberley Road
Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Tel. no. (852) 23679487


Miguel said...

date night and you party out til 5:30 AM?? I wouldn't have even made it to midnight hahaha

Chinkee said...

Mig- Hahahaha! You pa? Based on your marathon drinking lunches, I'm sure you'll do just fine:-) Actually, we were done for the night at 2:30AM, but we had to take our friend home to Clearwater Bay (which was FAAAR), then we dropped another one off at Causeway Bay, before heading back to Kowloon. Imagine how much we had to pay for the cab ride... We woke up noon na! Good thing we were able to check-out late!

Jin said...

And Hong Kong loves you, too, Chinkee! :)
I only have one thing to say. Drunken amnesia is bliss. Timmy said he is never ever gonna touch Ebeneezer's again after my plastic bag incident. Hahaha! Here's to many, many more crazy nights!

Chinkee said...

Jin- Hahahahaha! Re: drunken amnesia- You bet!

Yes, Timmy said that several time already. But believe me, one drunken night in LKF or Kowloon and he gets the munchies, i know where he'll be:-) The best doner kababs I have ever tried! Now that you're back in Manila, we should just plan a HK trip again sometime this year. No worries, we'll be prepared with A LOT of plastic bags. Hahaha!

See you soon! Cheers!

Warren said...

Great blog Chinkee. Can't wait to try Lu. I didn't quite agree with Lau Chan though as I have been there and most likely will not return. Your photos are great and your mouth watering critiques made me go downstairs and open a bottle of wine.. hehe..

Keep 'em coming!!

Anonymous said...

Ebeneezer's is a must after an all-nighter. HKers typically go home around the same time (since partying does not start until 11-12am).

Why can't we have good Kebabs like Ebeneezer's here in the Philippines?!?!