Saturday, June 2, 2012

Above & Beyond 天外天 - (Hong Kong)

  The newly established Hotel Icon is ambitious in proving itself to stand out from their direct competitors in the vicinity!   The Above and Beyond Cantonese Restaurant already has one of the most gorgeous views of the Hong Kong harbour,  but not content with it’s aspirations,  it takes a look at what has transpired in the local hotel and restaurant scene.  The name in Chinese literally implies and believes itself to be at a level transcending it’s peers,  and the Michelin Recommendation during just it’s 1st year of operation certainly provides it endorsement.    The kitchen’s Head Chef 謝錦松 is one of the most established chefs in town with a multi-page resume from running the prestigious Mandarin Oriental’s Man Wah in the past and also other Private Yacht Club kitchens and his stint at the Shangri La Hotel.    The food was certainly good and what stood out the most  during this media dinner was how the Chinese food was paired just so perfectly together with a selection of international wines by the residing Sommelier. 



Above and Beyond,
Found inside Hotel Icon.. 
A new Cantonese restaurant with a very impressive Wine Cellar.


The Night View -



Some Spicy Pickles & Honeyed Walnuts to start off tonight ~
天外天醬 & 琥珀合桃



A Delamotte Brut as an aperitif -
and to pair with the first Entrees Platter..


Appetizer Platter -
Barbecued Suckling Pig 化皮乳豬件
was decent.
Smoked Egg with Oolong Tea and Black Truffle 黑松露茶燻蛋 was unanimously agreed to be overcooked for everyone’s half shares,  but despite this being an invited event and asking us for feedbacks, one manager became a bit defensive and even shifted the blame on me for arriving late from work.  If you ask opinions but expect to hear only words of praise and not any other constructive criticisms,  pls don’t bother asking us!!    Crispy Scallops with Mango sauce 香芒脆帶子 was refreshing for the humid weather.   But the best 2 items were the Pig Knuckles in Abalone Sauce 鮑汁豬仔腳, which was perfectly done gelatinous and very good!  Also the  Marinated White Bitter Gourd with Salted Egg Yolk, Crispy Garlic and Dried Onion 金沙乾蔥伴涼瓜 was summery.



2007 Roero Arneis DOCG,  by Azienda Agricola Matteo Correggia -
This is a Piedmont white Arneis,  to pair with the following seafood and chicken hearts dish.
It worked very well.



Fried Prawn Balls with Lychee and Chicken Hearts  荔枝鳳心炒蝦球 -
This combination of ingredients was interesting.  The prawns and the lychee worked well together,  the prawns weren’t too artificially crunchy.  The chicken hearts are from freshly slaughtered chickens and added more of a textural contrast than outright flavours.


Double Boiled Chicken Soup with Fish Maw and Coconut  椰皇花膠燉土雞湯 -
This was very good with chicken,  mushrooms and coconut sweetness all in one package.


2008 Telmo Rodríguez ‘Gago’, Toro, Spain, 
A red Tinta de Toro tempranillo single varietal to pair with the following Beef Dish -



Wagyu Beef & Crisp Nest, Asparagus,
Lotus Root Chips with Pepper Sauce 黑椒澳洲和牛粒 -
The Wine Pairing was interesting tonight,  as the wine chosen by the dedicated Sommelier was not a ‘marriage’ pairing but one which worked on the ‘contrast’ principle.  The Tempranillo was chosen for it’s slightly subdued black fruit and liquorice minerality with a hint of saltiness,  instead of the more typical spicier and bold bodied Shiraz or Cab Sauv,  and this Enhanced the flavour of the beef, sauce and even the asparagus silently in the background like a supporting partner covering for your unperceived weaknesses you yourself might not be aware of.  That’s as opposed to just mimicking whatever your husband or the wife wants you to act your life out,  like a model marriage but might not be what you think deep under.  Which type of relationship do you prefer tonight?   Winking smile



Baked Garoupa Fillet and Yunnan Ham,
with Garlic Mayonnaise Sauce  雲腿香蒜焗星斑件-
This was my favourite dish, it was almost old school Chinese and Western fusion in feel,  but the gratinated sauce together with the ham just worked so well with the well cooked fish,  it was kind of old school in a way and typifies the favourite food enjoyed during the 1960-70’s period.


2009 Cono Sur ‘20 Barrels’ Pinot Noir,  Chile -
For pairing with the below Smoked Games Dish.
this is a limited edition using the best grapes.  It was surprisingly hot in alcohol,  but not jammy at all.  Quite well balanced and again,  not an in your face new world wine in style.  Kinda interesting!



Oolong Tea Smoked Pigeons  凍頂烏龍茶燻鴿-
The wing part had more Oolong smokiness but the breast seemed slightly drish and wasn’t very smoky at all,  but the US pigeon flavour was good.   The Pinot Noir chosen for the pairing was again quite subtle upon approach,  and never tried to over power the pigeon but supporting it like a wife with a keen eye and observing from a distance in the background and only covering what is required.  It was again a great wine pairing choice,  I am beginning to be very impressed for the night!



2009 Rose by State Lane Vineyard,  from Napa Valley -
Yet springing another surprise by the sommelier on the night,  a rose came next,
but he had every good reason for introducing this at this time of the meal..



Steamed Coral Crab with Glutinous Rice  紅蟳米糕-
This takes at least 4 different steps including cooking the crab tomalley and roe and meat separately,  to have the rice absorbing in as much crab meat juices as possible but not over cooking the rest of the bits.  This is a typical dish found along the East Coast of Chinese especially in Fujian,  but this one was different as it had  more crab sweetness and no MSG whatsoever!  This is where Hong Kong usually excels at,  since unlike Mainland China,  bad quality MSG granules here are treated as taboo and almost hardly ever used by our prouder kitchens!   This was a great dish and worth a visit alone!   And back to the wine pairing,  the chosen Rose was simply superb.   I actually think the Wine Pairing vs Chinese Food Items was very spot on here for the whole night, a job well done to the Sommelier!   Give him a pay rise!!




Shrimp Wonton with Inaniwa Udon  鮮蝦稻庭烏冬-
The Wonton did have a cloud-like skin,  but this was a little soft and there wasn’t much pork or prawns or dried flounder floss taste.  The soup was more of the clearer high broth type.  Real hardcore wonton eaters will find this too sophisticated.  The Inaniwa udon idea was appreciated however.. The wontons were definitely a weakness as it was nearly falling apart. Not that good overall.

Dessert Platter -
Egg Custard Tarts 酥皮蛋撻仔 were ok only,  there wasn’t enough egginess and were slightly too cold.   Wolf Berry and Osmanthus Jelly 杞子桂花糕 could definitely do with more Osmanthus flavours as it wasn’t aromatic enough.   The best was the Chilled Sago Cream with Aloe Vera and Melon 蜜瓜蘆薈珍珠露,  the flavours were very summery refreshing and I really liked this and it is hard to find this quality.   I am just surprised the 2 side desserts wasn’t really up to this standard?


The Wine Cellar -
This is impressive for a Chinese Restaurant,  and the Head Sommelier definitely knows how to pair the kitchen’s food with some interesting wines.   Some working on the marriage principle and some are more aggressive and hoping to complement each other for a more complete package.  It was very successful in the end,  and definitely on of the reasons to dine here!



Price:   Meal was by Invitation, including Wine Pairing.
Ease of Access:   3/5  (5 mins walk from East Tsim Sha Tsui tunnel Bus Stops)
Food:   ♕♕♕♕ – ♕♕♕♕ 1/2
Wine Pairing:  ♕♕♕♕♕♕

Opening Hours:
Tues – Sat  12:00pm-2:00pm,   7:30pm-9:30pm
Closed Sundays and Mondays

Address:  尖沙咀科學館道17號唯港薈28樓
28/F, Hotel ICON, 17 Science Museum Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
Ph: +852 3400 1318

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