The gal can always be sure that heading to the luxury Conrad Hong Kong hotel is going to be a foodie experience – for a start, Thomas Hoeborn, GM of this 513-room hotel, towering over Pacific Place high above Hong Kong Island’s Admiralty area, is a one time chef. Any mention of food and his eyes light up. Come and see, he urges, introducing visitors to two guest chefs he has brought over from France. With the support of Champagne Perrier-Jouët, jovial chef-restaurateurs Stéphane Gaborieau MOF, from La Pergolèse in Paris, and Georges Paccard, whose restaurant is La Ciboulette in Annecy, are delighting Hong Kong gastronomes with their specialty dishes. You must do something new the whole time, says the knowledgeable Hoeborn.
But we have not got to OUR dinner yet. Have you seen our Cheese Library, he gushes (I have)? And now meet our new Italian chef. Riccardo Catarsi arrived early May, from Hilton Singapore, and this hotel’s gain is that hotel’s loss. Not only is he charming but boy can he cook. See, above, the scallop and caviar amuse that he sent out to start our dinner in Nicholini’s. Thomas and Anna Hoeborn both followed the chef’s specials for dinner, starting off with white asparagus, to go with Hans Wirsching 2014 Iphöfer Julius Echter-Berg Silvaner – I preferred a glass of Giuseppe Cortese 2005 Rabaja Barraresco. Even as he ate, Thomas Hoeborn was describing yet more taste, this time the Hurom cold-press juicer I had in suite 5226, together with six large Kilner jars of prepared vegetables.
Our suite guests love this, making their own morning juice, and we give them recipes, said Herr Hoeborn (this is the foodie who has put not one but two cook-your-own wall-set ovens in the hotel’s 59th floor Club lounge, and, as you can imagine, the aroma of fresh-baked croissants at breakfast, from 6.30 a.m., or evening canapés, from 5 to 7 p.m., is really addictive). Back to our meal. After our starters we were brought individual glass teapots with dry ice billowing out of the spouts: the lids held non-sweet sorbets as palette cleansers. My friends then went on to chef’s spaghetti, prepared tableside, while I chose a veal Milanaise, beautifully battered, with organic rocket and baby tomatoes.
Of course as well as my juicer I had an espresso machine, thoughtfully the simple Nespresso variety that everyone knows how to use. What seemed like a couple of hours later, after a good work out in the Technogym, which is down 34 futuristic glass stairs from the hotel’s lower lobby, I showered, made first a Capriccio, rich and distinctive, and then a Fortissio Lungo, rich and full-bodied, and then downstairs. The lovely night-time front desk staff already had a car waiting, and a concierge brought over a Wall Street Journal – sorry, the Financial Times is not yet in. I got into the BMW to find I was sharing it with a hotel bag thoughtfully holding yoghurt, cut fruit, pastries and coffee (it was not yet 6.30 a.m.). Now THAT is another sign of a true today-luxury hotel. SEE MY VIDEO, BELOW