Sometimes food is so simply beautiful you just want to look at it rather than eat it. This was the case of a beetroot risotto at Caprice in Four Seasons Hong Kong, the only French restaurant in town to have three Michelin stars. You can tell the chef, Vincent Thierry, enjoys creating (‘sitting with great company and eating wonderful food creates some of the best moments in life’, he says).
The gal was eating with the greatest company around, a certain William Mackay who has, more than once, been accoladed as best general manager in the world. Mackay certainly does everything in style. Eat at Caprice and the linens are creaseless, the Limoges porcelain is gold-edged, the butter is Bordier and oh, the sesame brioche…
Yes, Hong Kong is full of style. Walking through Queensway Plaza I see no fewer than 20 giant flower displays on easels, all honouring the opening of a new fast-food joint. Continuing past the Chater Road entrance of Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, the Piaget store – still closed at this hour – similarly has easels with flower displays.
One came from the hotel, which has kindly allowed Piaget to move in, replacing the hotel’s own café. Because of the close partnership, Piaget held its grand opening party in the hotel’s lobby the other night.
Yes, they like grand events here in Hong Kong. From another friend, I hear about Katie Perry’s performance at Grand Hyatt Hong Kong last week, when she was lead entertainment for an investor forum. And I hear about next year’s Art Basel Hong Kong, when the host hotel will be Mandarin Oriental.
At another of the many luxury hotels in Hong Kong, the Landmark Mandarin Oriental, there is so much going on you can hardly keep up. This month has seen Marc Jacobs afternoon teas, next month will be afternoon teas partnering with Apvita, the Greek brand used in the hotel’s spa, and then comes Dior.
Marc Jacobs gave tea-ladies commemorative brooches – will Apvita give them a tube of rejuvenating cream? Apvita is certainly divine, soft and smooth on the skin, and the spa is divine, too. In the ladies’ locker room there is a rolling ‘closet’ which has any comb, shaving kit or other item you might possibly need, all exactly stored. And the colour is soft wood, soft light, courtesy designer Peter Remedios.
The long rectangular room is mostly browns, mostly looking out at the greys of the buildings around. Overhead a shape of 4,320 long brown tubes hangs from the ceiling, giving an outline shape that is somewhat amoeba-like, not dissimilar to the peripheral shape of the Table That J.J. Built across the water.
At lunch at Amber, I choose a couple of dishes from the fresh-today menu. I have one artichoke dish and then another artichoke dish. Can one ever have too much artichoke, I wonder?
Richard Ekkebus is head chef here. He learned with such other, but older, greats as Pierre Gagnaire, Alain Passard and Guy Savoy, and he has cooked for Beyoncé, Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods.
He once cooked for me, and the boss of Shanghai Tang, Raphael le Masne de Chermont, and Harry Connick Jr – yes, all of us, all at once – in the hotel’s yoga room, converted with giant black and white photos of Mr Connick stuck up on all of the walls.
While I am lying in a treatment room being pampered, I dream of some of Richard Ekkebus’ specialties. He does creations of the caliber of transparent Gillardeau oysters and cucumber ravioli, or black truffle and foie gras sushi – or iced pandan leaf sabayon with ginger icecream and cashew brittle.
And honestly, anyone who can produce a proper vegetarian menu needs another, veggie, star. That day, one of his enticing dishes, alongside the artichokes, was a tomato melange with a hint of mint in the jelly beneath. Ah tomatoes – everyone should eat some at least once a day.
Tomatoes had featured on the menu at Ricco DeBlank’s annual dinner in the highest restaurant in the world, Tosca, on the 103rd floor of The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong. This year, the intimate gathering included top designers Andre Fu and Julia Monk, and Hong Kong wine merchant Patricio de la Fuente Saez and a select group of other erudite connoisseurs.
Peter Find had planned the menu, with so many nibbles beforehand it was amazing that, hours later, those of us returning to InterContinental Hong Kong could pile into the silver Rolls that purred the short way home (too short, for all of us – we would have liked to go for a tour of the entire New Territories).
Anyway, Peter’s menu for the main meal included a white tomato melange, then a taglioni with chestnut porcini, then wagyu with onion puree and then a peach and moscato granite and so much more. This is a great way to go, on top of the world. Now where is next on the agenda?