Friday, February 26, 2016

East meets West Menu plus the fireworks

It's no secret that the best vantage point to watch the festive fireworks display - as they do every year on the second day of Chinese New Year over the Victoria Harbor in Hong Kong - is at the terrace of The Peninsula, with an unobstructed harborside view and right in front of the fireworks action. That's something we realized when we came with our friends for a festive celebration at the hotel a few years ago.

And we were excited for an encore this year when a dinner reservation at Chesa, their Swiss restaurant, became available for the fireworks evening at the last minute, and a few friends were free that night to join us. Same as last time, they ran a special festive menu combining western cooking with Chinese ingredients, some traditionally associated with Chinese New Year for auspicious reasons.

The 4-course dinner began with a simple cold appetizer of salmon and crab roulade, nicely arranged on a glass plate with florets of colorful cauliflower and dab of Chinese XO sauce, followed by a cream of mushroom soup with Chinese black moss and dried oyster, both symbolizes good fortune in Chinese culture. Taste-wise, it's a bit peculiar, or even strange, to see them mixed in with a western dish, but I applauded the effort and I thought it tasted alright.

Main course was a choice between steamed grouper fillet with Chinese e-fu noodles or the slow-cooked drunken chicken, and I was glad I picked the latter. It's rather generic really - chicken breast was slow-cooked and pan-fried for a crispy crust outside and the chicken leg was marinated with wine and steamed. The dish was then served with veggies and meat jus gravy. I expected a little more from Chesa but given it's a busy night at the kitchen I am willing to cut them some slacks. At least the dish tasted okay, and from the others who made the wrong choice, the fish was unfortunately a bit meh.

The dessert was raspberry chocolate ganache with almond and vanilla icecream. Again, it's a bit too generic but it tasted fine and was beautifully presented. And the cup of hot chocolate as my after-dinner drink was the saving grace too. It's comforting and in par with the usual Chesa standard.

While the food may be somewhat passable, we all had a fabulous time watching the fireworks display at the Sun Terrace right next to their spa in the middle of our meal. After finishing our first course, we went up early to find a spot right in the front on the deck on the 7th Floor and chilled over freeflow of champagne being offered to all hotel guests who made the way up (or down) to enjoy the 20-minute show. With the weather warmed up considerably from the "deep freeze" just a few days ago, and with a clear cloudless sky, we thought the fireworks display was just perfect.

We went light on wines today, with only a solo bottle we brought in (plus the champagne that went around at the terrace during the fireworks display). This mature Bordeaux was much lighter than I thought, but with a pleasant nose, very jammy on the palate and almost no rough tannins. While I did regret not bringing something sweet to finish the evening with, I reckon the bottle was just right for an easy dinner like this.

Some might call the annual fireworks display a waste of money, or even inappropriate given what happened the day before, but for us, politics and environmental stance aside, we enjoyed a spectacular show and despite the average food, with wine and company, we couldn't think of a better way to celebrate the Chinese New Year in Hong Kong.

When? February 9 2016
Where? Chesa, The Peninsula Hong Kong, Salisbury Road, Tsimshatsui, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Scottish salmon and crabmeat roulade, cauliflower salad and XO sauce
Deutz Champagne Brut Peninsula Cuvee NV
1994 Chateau Gruaud Larose, St. Julien

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Audrey Chong said...

Stumbled upon your blog. You wrote beautifully and your food encounters are amazing. Thanks for sharing.

gary s said...

Oh thanks Audrey! That's so nice of you!


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