Friday, March 11, 2016

The Highest Private Kitchen Table

Not long after the Chinese New Year break, I headed up to Ozone on top of The Ritz Carlton Hong Kong one evening to join the others for their media spring dinner. The festive period may be behind us already, but it didn’t stop them from bringing on the lingering celebratory mood with everything decorated in glowing red inside the private room on the side of this fabulous lounge on top of the hotel (dubbed the "highest bar in the world"), and the red dress code requested for everyone who was there that evening.

I have been to Ozone a few times before, and love this wonderful venue not only for the spectacular view of the Hong Kong skyline but for the fashionable décor and vibe, combined with the creative cuisine by Chef Rafael Gil. This evening the menu is based on the new concept by the hotel called Rafa’s Private Kitchen, essentially a multi-course, bespoke tasting menu crafted by chef, taking account into any individual preference. The menu is offered at the private room just outside the kitchen, providing customers an interactive dining experience with the chef during the meal, while enjoying the wonderful view from the window.

The night we were there it was an 8-course menu, with 2 snacks, 4 mains in tasting portion and 2 desserts. I thought most of the dishes were well-prepared and very much enjoyable, with a significant notch down in uptight-ness as compared to other fine-dining establishment around town. I could imagine this being a perfect meal for a more casual night-out or for something like a friends’ get-together.

My favorite dish of the evening was the egg soufflé with truffles. I could smell the enticing aroma of the black truffles as the dishes were brought out from the kitchen right behind my seat. In the middle of the plate was a whipped egg “soufflé” baked to a lightly-browned crust; inside was an oozy egg yolk cooked at low temperature in lava-like consistency. The dish was then garnished with black truffles and deep-fried grated potatoes offering the contrast in flavors and texture. It’s always my opinion Spanish egg dishes are the best in the world and this is another good example.

I also liked the oyster with watermelon tartare, which was our first course after sitting down. It’s a simple dish with a pair of shucked oysters garnished by watermelon tartare accented by a hint of acidity. I liked that balanced sweet-sour flavor with that of the umami taste from the oyster – it’s certainly a perfect way to start a meal. The asparagus, scallops and caviar dish was beautifully plated with excellent flavors too, highlighting the fresh scallops with the sweetness from the mango, then the three types of fish roes – sturgeon, salmon and crab roes – providing the unique flavors and textures.

While I thought the pre-dessert of "cheesecake in different textures" didn’t have enough textures to show forth (it reminded me of a cup of melted strawberry sundae), the final dessert of Banoffee pie was good with banana slices and chocolate sat in between piped Crème Chantilly infused with Bailey’s and cookie crumbs. With two other excellent, Michelin-starred restaurants under the same roof (Tosca and Tin Lung Heen), it’s understandably difficult for Ozone to establish itself as another serious dining establishment, but I thought Chef Rafa has done a good job in offering customers something different with creative dishes or bringing in guest chefs to offer something unique, taking full advantage of this great venue for casual outings. I was impressed with the dishes presented and for the elevated dining experience we got to enjoy this evening at the kitchen table.

(The dinner was by invitation as part of a media event by the hotel)

When? February 23 2016
Where? Ozone, Level 118, Ritz Carlton Hong Kong, International Commerce Centre, West Kowloon, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Egg Souffle in Potato Nest with Mushrooms and Truffles
Champagne Ruinart Blanc de Blancs NV
2013 Domaine Matthias et Emile Roblin Sancerre Blanc Origine
2011 Doluca Karma Cabernet Sauvignon-Öküzgözü
Tagasako Premium Plum Sparkling Sake, Fuji Tagasako Brewery, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan

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