Thursday, June 18, 2015

Bubbly Brunch at the highest bar

It seems like locals are obsessed with buffets, particularly the high-end ones offered by the top hotels around town. These days, almost every hotel at every corner in Hong Kong is offering some kind of Sunday brunch featuring unlimited wines or champagnes, and they were always fully-booked. And making the latest entry to this frenzy was the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong, who recently launched their new Sunday brunch at Ozone Bar, on 118th Floor above the ground on top of the ICC Building in West Kowloon, with none better than free-flow of vintage Dom Perignon.

View from high above - simply magical
I was there last Sunday and it's actually the first time I set foot at this hip lounge/restaurant venue during day time and I was quite amazed at the difference in terms of the ambiance. Replacing the loud music and trendy spotlights was a sense of refreshing quietness, with natural sunlight beaming in from the window and comfy chairs. Being able to catch the bird's eye view of Hong Kong is always one of the biggest selling point of the place, and I was lucky to come on one of the most gorgeous summer day with clear sight of the Hong Kong Island skyline and part of Kowloon from the balcony. If that's what people called the "Million Dollar View" I guess we got it on the cheap, relatively speaking.

My charcuterie platter to start
The Sunday brunch is actually offered as "semi-buffet" - appetizers, soup, salad and desserts were available at the long bar counters for pick and choose ourselves, then we could also choose one of the made-to-order main courses to be served by the table. While the choice of starter dishes was not the most sumptuous I have seen, it's adequate and the ingredients were of great quality, so I had no complaints. My favorite was what's displayed on the charcuterie board, including the chorizo, slices of Ballota ham and smoked anchovies. I also liked the choice of cheeses with the same heavy Spanish influences. They were all absolutely delicious, not to mention went very well with the bubbly. I also liked the salads with a Mediterranean flair as well, with heirloom tomatoes, herbs and plenty of olive oil drizzled on top.

Wagyu Beef Burger with Foie Gras Ganache
Spanish Hot Dog with aioli, crispy onion and honey mustard
There were a good number of choices for the main course - standard brunch fares like eggs, burgers/sandwiches and a vegetarian option. Rafael the chef at Ozone told us his favorites were the burger and the hotdog, so we just went with those. The wagyu beef burger was served with a quenelle of foie gras ganache on the side, adding to the rich flavors of the perfectly-cooked meat patty and the pan-seared duck liver in between the buns; whilst the hotdog was served with a smoky Spanish pork sausage, aioli, crispy onions and mustard - certainly an upgrade to the usual tailgate party dogs. That plus a side of Patatas Bravas - you can't go wrong with that.

Rainbow of Macarons

Ice Lollipop served from an Anti-Griddle Machine - how cool is that?
The dessert lineup was also impressive. On one end we saw the usual suspects of various cakes and tiramisu and icecream and lots of macarons with various flavors, all of which nicely done, then at one station they were making little ice fruit lollipops using an anti-griddle machine. They were perfect to nibble on in this summer heat and surely the favorite for the young and young at heart. I refused to step aside in front of the machine all afternoon. 

Dom Perignon 2005
Aria 118 served in a martini glass
The free-flowing Dom throughout the afternoon was as great as you would expect. The current vintage of 2005 which only released months ago was a light and refreshing one with good floral notes and the fruitiness that reminded me of a freshly baked tarte tatin with just a slight hint of toasted brioche. Not as rich as other recent vintages as I remembered, but that made it perfect drink for an easy summer afternoon. And in case champagne is not your thing - but then why came to a champagne brunch I might ask - there's also a good choice of wines and cocktails (and dare I say, juices and soft drinks). I did have a sip of the Aria 118, which was a mix of vodka, sake, malibu rum, lychee, lime and passion fruit juices served in a martini glass, and it was nice and refreshing. That was my "intermission" drink in between the champers.

When I first received the promotion material from the hotel for the brunch offering, I was taken aback by the price tag - it's quite possibly among the highest anywhere - but as I found out after trying it myself, with top notch bottomless champagne on offer and a decadent display of gourmet dishes, along with the breathtaking view in such a gorgeous afternoon, I guess that's what we called a priceless experience and a worthy means to spend a lazy afternoon. Will definitely keep the place in mind next time when we want to spoil ourselves.

(The meal was courtesy of Ritz Carlton Hong Kong)

When? July 14 2015
Where? Ozone, The Ritz Carlton Hong Kong, Level 118, International Commerce Centre, 1 Austin Road West, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Drinks? Dom Perignon Blanc 2005

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