Lunch at Amber, Landmark Hotel, Hong Kong
Travelling and trying new food go hand in hand. In Hong Kong you could head out for some fantastic street food or experience some of the exceptional regional cuisine. Or you could head to a two-star Michelin French restaurant in an exclusive hotel one Sunday afternoon and settle in for a long session of eating and drinking.
My niece and I were looking forward to this. We even traded in our sneakers and hoodies for high heels and make-up. Amber was suitably yellow. The long narrow room was sparse and quiet. It was very quiet. And sparse. It was formal. Very formal.
|Even the cutlery is charming.
But then our hostess wandered over and made a reasonably loud fuss over us, went through my tedious dietary requirements and generally spoke in a normal tone and not one reserved for art galleries. I was at ease after that.
A duck pate lollipop, a cherry tomato with caviar and a clear mushroom soup. Keep in mind this lovely opening number consisted of exactly three bites of food but was accompanied by a reasonably full glass of champagne. Thank you! All I had eaten for breakfast was crackers with peanut butter. All my niece had eaten was nothing. It took about five minutes for the room to become pleasantly warm.
starter – another variation of duck pate for me and langoustine for my niece
There’s something exquisite about the tiny leaves and petals and half fork-fulls of food arranged on my plate. I’m trying not to eat everything in one bite. But it’s hard!
Ah that wine is lovely. French you say? Thank you! Mmmm…. (Apologies to wine lovers – I took not one single note of what I was drinking. It had bubbles, it was white and then it was red. I’m sorry. Sacrilege, I know. We did turn down a Coonawarra red (for us a ‘local’ wine) and opted for a French number.
entree – tasmanian salmon confit
It seemed wrong for two Australians to order Tasmanian salmon but I was restricted in my choices and frankly, it just very much appealed to both of us! It was worth it because our dishes were brought out by two separate waiters who, without fanfare but with so much panache, placed them in front of us, took off the glass, smoke-filled domes covering our salmon and then quietly wandered away. ‘Thank you!’ I told their retreating backs. Smoked salmon.
‘Oh my!’ I said when the sommelier came around with the next wine. ‘It’s not a race,’ he said kindly. But the service is too quick for me to keep up! And I already had a line of half full wine glasses…. Thank you!
main – iberian pork ‘pluma’
|Feel free to educate me about ‘pluma’
No, I still don’t know what ‘pluma’ is. I think I even asked. It was truly delicious.
If I was giggling by the first course, I was completely loose by the second. I’ll just slip to the Ladies for a moment of composure – the door is right next to our table. But the waiter is there in a flash, ‘Oh sorry madam, someone is using that bathroom, I’ll show you to another one’. I blink at the charming young waiter and take a deep breath. Ok, steady now. He leads the way and at the restaurant entrance hands me over to another waitress who then hands me over to the maitre d` who then shows me down a long corridor and around a corner and finally to the Ladies. Oh dear. Three people to show me the way there but no one to show me the way back. Did I mention I was drunk?
I opted for the cheese platter. I’m vaguely lactose intolerant as well as gluten intolerant, it’s a platter for two and my niece doesn’t like cheese. I eat my gooey and sublime French cheese with a blueberry compote and sigh with deep happiness. Who needs crackers? I an starting to feel a little sick.
dessert one, two and three
This is a restaurant that has its priorities right. Three savoury dishes, three sweet dishes. Just as it should be. Thank you!
It’s time to sober up and I work my way through cassis sorbet, chestnut spaghetti and ice-cream, chocolate tart and salted caramel popcorn with the help of three short black coffees.
My niece decides that she simply cannot say thank you again. It was getting ridiculous, trying to acknowledge the quiet army of waiters, hostesses, sommeliers and general helpers each time they whisked away a plate or de-crumbed the table.
|One more wafer-thin mint…
Finally lunch comes to a close with petit fours, presented in a long cylindrical dish which opens up in tiers to reveal exquisite little sweets. As I contemplate and fiddle with my last little cellophane wrapped toffee, feeling very much like the character from Monty Python’s The meaning of life, encouraged to eat one last wafer-thin mint, the waiter steps up discreetly and tells me the cellophane is edible. I should just pop it all into my mouth.
Just one more – thank you. A surfeit of thank yous. And good night!