Restaurants & Bars 12

Pierre (Gagnaire?) in Hong Kong

klyeoh | Mar 27, 200812:53 AM

I had dinner 2 weeks ago at Pierre, Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong. Overall, it was the most expensive meal I had during my visit but, in terms of taste/quality, was not as good as my experiences in L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon (#1 in my own little red book), Amber, Caprice, Zuma and Nobu on other evenings.

I felt Pierre's cuisine was not only overly-fussy and complicated, but many of the tastes & textures seemed to clash.

Anyway, here's what I had:

Starter: Le Rouge, which consisted of
- Balik salmon fillet Tsar Nikolaj, organic roe, red cabbage salad;
- Veiled Torbais bean puree, with red sorbet;
- Red beetroot & onion confit with Campari;
- Red toast cuisine consisting of squid, carrot & ham.

The novelty of the starter was that EVERYTHING was coloured red! Taste-wise, only the squid passed muster. I didn't know what to make of the fire-engine-red toast, other than it's basically bread which had been stained a shocking red with beetroot juice, a stain devil which also happened to make guest appearances in almost all the other side-dishes.

Entree: La Langouste
- Australian crawfish Cardinale, with winter vegetables Maraichere, white balsamic vinegar mayonnaise;
- Shiitake mushroom bouillon, with "smoked haddock cooked with mineral water and Toscano olive oil be Santa Tea" (I think the menu-writer ran amuck here - I didn't understand a single word of what's being said);
- Pain souffle, Thai grapefruit (I surmised it was going to be a French-bread souffle flavoured with Thai grapefruit juice - but I couldn't find either the souffle nor the grapefruit amongst the collection of mini-dishes set in front of me - anyway, it's molecular gastronomy, so I'm guessing we're not expected to be able to identify a souffle or a grapefruit in their "original" form. Either that, or they'd pulled a fast one on me)

Dessert: Mint Sirocco "Version No. 2" (yep, that's what 's being said on the menu. And it was BAD. If this was Version No. 2, I don't even want to know what Version No. 1 must have tasted like!)
- Lemon & mint jelly, vanilla crumble & sugar nibs with white chocolate;
- Moroccan granite;
- Mint tea (yeah sure - a shotglass of mint-flavored tea - this is supposed to excite me?)
- Corne de gazelle (don't know what it was, and couldn't find an item to correspond to it, even after eliminating the other items on the table in front of me. Maybe it was the sugar bowl?);
- Honey parfait.

All in all, a rather anti-climactic experience. I loved Pierre Gagnaire in Paris, and I enjoyed Sketch in London. But Pierre in HK is, well, not really Gagnaire-like. No unique taste sensations that evening, no orgasmic pleasure that assailed my palate, no hidden "umami" moment for me to take away as an unforgettable gastronomic, gustatory experience. And, boy, when the bill came - that did hurt!

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