Saturday, August 21, 2010

Hong Kong - Mandarin Oriental Hotel: Host to Club des Chef des Chef

Thanks to @GeoffsTwitchen or @MO_HKG, I got to be part of an awesome evening, and more importantly, meet some of the great like-minded folks behind some of the better blogs out there.  Awesome to have met you all! @hypercasey @birdiegolfblog @womguide @fernandogros @g4gary - #mohkgccc

The venue was the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and the event was the dinner created by Executive Chef Uwe Opocensky to celebrate the visit by the Club des Chef des Chef - an elite group of chefs who create meals for important lunch and dinner meetings hosted by various heads of state around the world.  We were seated at the Switzerland table and got to know Gregor Zimmermann, executive chef of the Bellevue Palace in Berne, Switzerland.  The hotel plays host to many important people in Switzerland although Gregor admits that he has yet to cook for the most important man in Switzerland, Roger Federer.  [Big Cheshire grin from me here..]

The menu looked promising enough.  It was definitely no less shabby than some of the menus on display of meals hosted by President Obama for Nicolas Sarkozy (this meal lasted 12 minutes apparently although no one said why).  And the wines of the night definitely fitting of the occasion.  Even @
birdiegolfblog our resident wine connoisseur approved.  

If Chef Uwe sought attention, he grabbed it with the first course of the Spiral - a light sugar wound spiral that you're meant to put your finger through, and roll around in the "dirt" of likely black sesame and olives? It was so fine, it was hard to tell.  Unfortunately, there wasn't an interview segment to get at the concept behind this conversation opener.

The Crispy Fish drew quite a few "oohs" from the diners.  Simple in concept especially if you're of Chinese origin, this was well executed with the Garouper coated in a light but crispy batter and well dressed with a white wine vinegar sauce.  

Our next dish was Peking Duck served on an almost Belgian Waffle.  This was interesting.  The duck was very well done in its own right.  Tasty slivers of meat, interspersed with crispy skin (the best part) and julienned spring onion, sat atop a slight crispy yet chewy waffle, which was a tad dry.  While an overall bite laced with a sweet sauce wasn't your traditional bite of Peking duck, it was certainly pleasant enough.  

The Tea course was reminiscent of a Japanese teapot soup.  The chicken broth was light and a nice reprieve after the Peking duck.  Poured at the table into a bowl of chicken breast cubes, chervil, gold leaf and flowers, I'm sure there was expectation building up as liquid met solids.  

Beggar's Chicken was served under a brownish green layer which looked to some like a deep-sea cleansing mask or flattened and discolored Hong Kong waffle (鸡蛋仔) batter.  This traditional Chinese dish was a poor man's way of cooking chicken.  By lightly seasoning a whole chicken and sealing it in a mud cask, then burying it in the ground and lighting a fire above to slow-cook it, this method was uncanny in sealing in the juices and retaining the natural taste of the chicken.  

Our servers urged us to break the "mud" open.  We of course did as we were told to reveal a lightly baked chicken breast garnished with preserved vegetables and mushrooms, on a bed of Jasmine rice.  Tasty enough although the few of us who broke up the mud into tiny pieces infused in the rice had a hard time, working through it.  To each his own, but I liked mine as is, without the mud.  Few would disagree.  

Dessert was a pretty Butterfly which flew atop a bed of tangy sorbet, contrasted against a chocolate and hazelnut mousse, sprinkled with honeycomb.  If you manage to scoop a little of everything, each spoonful would be an explosion of flavours and textures.

Our finale of the Bird Cage was delivered to each table by the entourage of servers and even some chefs who joined in the revelry.  A spectacular way to end Chef Uwe's interpretation of Asian decadence, reminiscent of days gone by of rich Chinese businessmen with bird in one hand and pipe in another, winding down after a day's wheeling and dealing.  

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

1 comment:

  1. Didn't know I had such a title! It was great meeting you as well as other fellow foodies/bloggers.