Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Caprice - (Hong Kong)

Michelin 3 Stars

  I think I’m finally starting to get a grip on how to go about getting the best dining experience at Caprice,  unfortunately that’s with the benefit of hindsight after 4 meals there including this dinner.  It is the sole western restaurant in Hong Kong and within the whole of HK & Macau region,  1 of only 2 French restaurants to hold 3 Michelin Stars status.   Many locals have already voiced out over this lax rating,  even though everything does seem to be slightly scaled up across the board in Hong Kong’s guide -  I mean if they don’t give out enough stars, soothsayers will blast you for not understanding HK’s food scene.  Hand them out too loosely like a stamp on a coffee royalty card and you receive backfire for not knowing how to rate like the prestigious Michelin man either.  You’re doomed either way and can’t satisfy everyone!

 



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Chateldon Mineral Water -  $90
*I believe having Lunch here at around a 1/3rd of the price at Caprice is actually more engagingly fun and better value’s worth.  As for dinner, I suspect relying on the seasonal Tasting Menu might not get you the best result, such as what we did tonight – you’re probably better off negotiating with the staff to serve you their signature dishes in either half portions, or substituting some of them into the Degustation!   Dishes at lunch are more contemporary and exploratory in recipes and presentation,  whereas dinner reverts back to more traditional French cooking style and transforms into yet another one of those French and British restaurants when you’re forced, not urged,  to wear a jacket.  Well I don’t mind it in theory because it shows respect to other diners and the restaurant,  but the food coming out of the kitchen had better be good enough to respect me and my diner’s stomach in return.      



 

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Caprice’s Open Kitchen -
It is nice and bright.

 

 

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Amuse Bouche/Canape -  Brioche of Cauliflower Cream and Garlicked Brioche with Spinach
Caprice easily gets the gong for serving the most lazy amuse bouche in the world,  for a Michelin 2-3 star grade restaurant.   Any self respecting kitchen will send out something which excites your mind and palate before the meal starts.   Here at Caprice it’s always another ‘carb’ stuffing you before another carb of bread basket.   To make matters worst,  this exact brioche bun is found downstairs in The Lounge in the tea set.   At lunch,  they give you bread sticks overly powered with garlic.  Seriously.  Nothing wrong with the taste (which is good on it’s own).  But you can find better amuse bouche appetizers in Japanese or nowadays even Cantonese restaurants in town   ~    2/10


 

 

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Bordier Butter - 
Yes it is hand churned, organic, pretty creamy tasty.  I think I must have repeated that many times before as most starred restaurants are carrying this.  Except it is always Salted and Unsalted.  Yawn.  Where is the Seaweed or Yuzu or Espelette and Smoked Salt version?  Can’t we choose something exciting in a 3 Star restaurant?  (Or do I have to go to SOGO to buy them myself instead..)   Check out Petrus and Pierre.



 

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Olive Bread and Sesame Brioche -
The bread is what I look up to when we visit Caprice.  It is made to an exceptional quality and definitely done by the hands of an expert.   If only they could get rid of the most ‘lazy amuse bouche’ in the world.  Imagine bringing some Japanese or European clients here and begin on a carb fest.   ~   9/10


 

 

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Duck Foie Gras, Crapaudine Beetroot and Smoked Eel in Hazelnut Dressing -
Dotted with aged Balsamic.  This dish arrived looking pretty exciting and I was saying to myself at this stage thank god,  they must have improved! (well…)    The beetroot gelled duck gras can be eaten as is or spread on a brioche toast,  it was pretty good but doesn’t have much gras taste.  The smoked eel was smoky and its strong impact means it did work with the foie gras!  A pretty interesting dish…  ~  9/10



 

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Morel Mushroom Consomme,  Alaskan King and Chateau Chalon Wine -
The recipe sounded fine, but the result was a little unexpected.  The morel consomme was so powerful in a savoury way,  we both commented that this tasted like a Chinese 猴頭菰 soup – and it killed any subtle crab sweetness, which itself was too stringy and compressed. Couldn’t detect said wine.  Not helped by a few floating peas which looked like floaters,  and flavour wise clashed with the whole thing.  A bit off balance?  ~   5/10



 

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Vaucluse Green Asparagus, Black Truffle Tapenade, Burrata Cream and Balsalmic Vinegar -
The asparagus were ok-sweet and cooked well.  The burrata cream, pretty runny as it should, was a little weak in mozzarella flavour,  and there was an obvious lack of truffle influence in the tapenade.  And the dotted balsalmic is repetitive here with one of above dishes. Couldn’t really taste what the curd is like either.  A little dull tasting.  ~  7/10   


 

P1080058-1Langoustine Tail a la Plancha and Vegetable Pastilla in Sweet Spice Nage -
The Brittany sourced Langoustine has a good flavour and is accentuated with a subtle citrusy fruit, but was all the way cooked to well done. I guess I didn’t mind this knowing how these and related bugs, scampi or prawns get mushy quickly, I guess only the kitchen knows whether this is intended.   The sweet spice nage was also subtly good.  We held the biggest reservation about the pastilla, which sat on top a pile of brunoised green veggies, and not only was the whole thing a bit soggy,  the bottom was literally drowned and chewy.  The plating of this dish was very ordinary for a 3 Star restaurant.  ~  6.9/10




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Roasted Suckling Pig, Black Sausage Burger,
Green Tomato Chutney in BBQ Sauce -
When this arrived,  I was in serious shock.  I’m paying over $1700 to get this tiny piece of pork rib and loin as my main course (degustation portion),  with 1 single strip of potato??  There was nothing ingenious about this main course either.   The black sausage came in the same brioche which we already had as our amuse bouche,  and Thomas Keller wouldn’t approve this repetitive use of elements.  The sausage doesn’t have much blood taste,  I guess that’s because it’s made from the suckling pig’s blood.  The pork meat on the positive side was cooked tenderly spot on.   This dish in all aspects,  was a little underwhelming.   ~   6/10

  

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 Blood Sausage -
Nicely done,  but needed more taste to it.  And why that bun?  Honestly,  why use the bun everywhere and repetitively within the Four Seasons?  Even if it’s good its very repetitive!

 


 

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Wagyu Beef Flank, Osetra Caviar Tartare and Confit Potato Poelees -
I’ve actually had this Australian wagyu before during lunch, and that dish was slightly more complex than this with a proper gratin.  This came with some minimalist pillars of slanted potatoes and savoy cabbage.   The beef is cooked well as expected,  the sauce was definitely very authentic in taste.    There are no elements of surprise though.   Which comes down to VALUE… Is it me or can I expect something more extraordinary and which the customer to see the heart put into the food recipe and dishing?   ~   7.5/10


 

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Beef Tartare & Salad -
This tartare uses French Charolais beef instead.  Unfortunately,  the seasoning was totally off tonight.  It was really sour and a bit too wet.   This is possibly one of the most off balance steak tartare’s I’ve had,  which means the Osetra caviar became a little superflous as a consequence, as it couldn’t help make the dish better.   ~    2/10

 


 

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Visit to the Cheese Room -
Said to be one of the best in Hong Kong with cheeses matured by fromager affineur, Bernard Antony and son,  also found in Pierre and Amber albeit with slightly less selections and the exclusive 3-4 year old Comte.



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Cheese Board -
All properly matured…




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Cheese Platter #1 -
Buche de Chevre from Pyrenees  (Goat milk),
Brin d'amour from Corsica  (Ewe’s milk covered in Juniper and Rosemary),
Époisses de Bourgogne from Côte-d'Or  (Runny Cow’s milk cheese),
Roquefort from Aveyron (Ewe’s Blue Cheese, famous for its Penicillium roqueforti mold)





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Cheese Platter #2 -
Mimolette Extra-Vieille from Nord  (Aged Mimolette Cow’s milk cheese flavoured with Annatto)
Camembert from Normandy (Surface ripened creamy cow’s milk cheese)
Bernard Antony’s 4 Years Old Comte from Franche-Comte region -  (The extra aging makes it this cow’s cheese sharp and filled with calcium lactate crystals, amazing!)

 

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Easter Eggs -
Instead of the usual mignardises,  the kitchen decided to give out these as a substitute instead,  which we were quite unhappy about.   I liked the idea of an easter theme,  and I have to admit these were one of the best Easter Eggs I’ve tasted in my life.   But part of the adventure of dining in a starred restaurant is not only the mains,  but the amusing starters and the ending petits fours,  where you can really see the creativity of the kitchen.   Besides,  why would I want to eat so much chocolates at the end of the meal?    That’s 0 out of 2 ticks out of the starting and ending courses,  from a 3 Star kitchen.


 

 

 

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Wild Strawberry, Lavendar Blossom, Almond Crisps and Malaga Sorbet -
There’s been rumours that ever since the old Pastry Chef who came from Le Cinq directly left for Gaddi’s,  the new desserts aren’t as good.    This first dessert fortunately was quite enjoyable, the mixture of soft and hard textures, this was a dessert which was slightly on the sour side overall.  ~  9/10


 

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Inside..

 

 

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Alpaco Chocolate Texture and Tropical Fruits, with Chocolate Raviolo -
The above dessert performed pretty well, but unfortunately the 2nd one wouldn’t quell the rumours that something is amiss.  The presentation of this was so different from all the past Caprice desserts,  it was a bit messy rather than classy.  Nevertheless it’s the taste which gives it more points!   The different chocolate textures of crumbs, deconstructed palet, ice cream, raviolo, etc wasn’t overly too special than buying them yourself and mixing it together,  but the biggest problem was the bitterness within.  Which,  clashed so much with the super sour and very passionfruit like puree lining the plate.  Imagine super sour eaten together with bitter chocolate bits?   ~  2/10      Eaten together with the basket of Easter Chocolate Eggs,  the whole night ended like we were eating at The Chocolate Library.     A true 3 Star restaurant,  would have planned their dinner or Tasting Courses not to have such lapses of concentration.   

 

 

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Tea to finish up… 
And no petits fours tonight,  except the chocolate eggs (which we were suggested to take away), seriously,  in a 3 star restaurant?  Why do I need to wear a Jacket then?    Not a very complete package tonight, although the food were generally well executed,   just without much engaging food or elements of surprise.   Next time I am going to listen to my foodie friends, and order a la carte instead and I think they would make a much better and complete meal !

 

 

Price: HKD $1800 per person
Food: ♕♕♕ 3/4   (This meal only.  They carry more potential within the menu!)

Opening Hours:
Mon to Thurs -  8am to 8pm
Fri                  -  8am to 9pm
Address:  中環金融街8號四季酒店6樓
Podium 6, Four Seasons Hotel, 8 Finance Street, Central
Ph: 3196 8888

6 comments:

  1. I have probably only worn a jacket once in all the times I've been to Caprice. I do not think it is a requirement.

    I actually seldom order ALC, and typically set up a menu with the restaurant beforehand. I understand that the "Taste of Caprice" may actually not be the best collections of dishes from the menu... from experience.

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  2. Dear Peech,

    Thanks for the advice on how to go about ordering. I think that's what I meant by ALC as normal customers don't really pre-arrange a meal, so they need to organise it in situ. :S Yeh I shouldn't have ordered Taste of Caprice, but what u normally order!

    As for jacket, you're actually right technically because the requirement is collared, 1 level down from jacket. But in my case, since I find Caprice AC to be cold, I wore a long necked Jumper on top instead, a very formal one mind you. Which the receptionist rejected and insisted I wear one of those thin make-shift jackets. Which I politely declined but they insisted, even though I looked more formal than the shirted people inside. To me - that is a 'jacket' policy. : (

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  3. I had this exact tasting menu back in April and felt rather underwhelmed. I thought "This is it?? For a Michelin 3 Star establishment??" Well, at least I am not the only one not impressed.

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  4. I honestly hope ghphilips, I could order a better meal on my 5th visit next time too! I've had a fair few 2-3 Stars meals and this was honestly a little disappointing so far for now. But I am open to improvements : d

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  5. Good information on this post. Also, it is really nice to listen all your words. Thanks for sharing this.
    Restaurant Equipment

    ReplyDelete
  6. I went with my family here for their dinner degustation a few years back and honestly we thought it was quite disappointing o_O our best part of the meal was the cheese board! Don't think they were up to par when I went but judging from your photos and dishes, the food look much better. Not sure if I would go again when I visit HK..

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