Zacapa Rum is one of the finest Artisanal rums made at 2,500m Altitude high above in the Guatemalan mountains in Central America. As someone who had just spent 6 months working in South America and Caribbean region nearby, I was naturally delighted to be invited for this Zacapa Centinario Dinner Food & Rum pairing to learn more about this region’s offerings. This was appropriately and thoughtfully held inside the tallest Private Dining Room & Bar in the world at OZONE @ Ritz Carlton Hotel.
View from Within the Tallest Dining Room in the World -
The middle “Central Plaza” triangular building used to be the tallest building in HK and still is the 3rd tallest. Can you believe it? It looks rather short from this angle and it wasn’t even too many years ago it got over thrown by IFC and ICC here..
Amuse bouche of Eggs, Sea Urchins, Bonito-soy & Scallions -
Eggs and Urchins are a classic pairing in traditional cooking, especially in Japanese cuisine.
Modern recipes don’t command this combo as much so may be it just me being nolstagic. ~ 7/10
Aromatic and baked well enough, I was surprised these were quite different from those served downstairs at TOSCA (II) which we just ate recently.. 9/10
Hamachi sashimi style, with Pineapple relish, Cilantro, Chili -
2 parts Water to 1 part Zacapa Rum 23 Y.O.
The pineapple and chilis are such a Carribean flavored combo, and Guatemala is part of this region which I got to visit the region twice this year during work. In fact the Rum itself incorporated some Pineapple derived yeast strain and hence this pairing worked liked a pair of fitting gloves. Was surprised to revisit this Caribbean flavour in HK just right after I left that region. ~ 7.5/10
Pan Seared Duck Foie Gras, Caramelized Brioche toast, Yuzu Sorbet and Apple pieces -
Also paired with Zacapa rum at diluted strength. This was a really well balanced combination, and to be honest I didn’t know the OZONE kitchen can churn out such good food packages such as this one. Amazing recipe and so refreshing yet rich at once. Can they put this on the permanent menu please? ~ 9.5/10
Different strengths of Zacapa Rum -
It was interesting because different parts Water to Rum ratio, brought out different hidden characters in the drink. You can really tell the different steps in the processing techniques which gave it the layering, by slowly drawing out the flavours by increasing the strength. Very educational for me.
Halibut en Papillotte, Tomato Lemon-grass broth, Saffron, Asparagus and Razor Clams
Steamed in transparent plastic wraps en papillotte style, but not the paper bag version which I am used to. Hope this is not only for aesthetics reasons…? We will find out
Halibut Papillotte -
This was cooked spot-on well and many others can’t claim the same. The razon clams were fun rather than adding to the actual taste. We couldn’t detect much of the slightly fiery kick or fragrance from the Lemon-Grass the menu says. The aromatics of brunoised vegetables was so pronounced though. I loved both the fish and the broth so much, but paired against the Rum, it needed more chili heat in the base broth recipe to stand up again it. But on it’s own this was very memorable and wish I can eat this every week! ~ 8/10
Roasted Baby Lamb Loins, Garlic-Lemon puree and Pine Nuts Crust, Caramelized Shallots -
The lamb was cooked so well and I really adored that special pine nuts and lemony crust coating the pink meat, which deviates from the bread crumbs and herbal crusted recipes. Someone briefly mentioned to me once, the Ritz Carlton OZONE space might consider switching to a new Japanese concept from overseas. Looking back at this amazing Baby Lamb dish, I hope they will try to preserve it in one of their restaurants somehow, as I have so far been quite impressed by Ozone. In fact I have just re-patroned Ritz Carlton’s Tosca, Ozone and Tin Lung Heen restaurants all within 2 weeks time come to think of it, wonder if they offer any VIP card?
Cheese Platter with Cow, Ewe and Blue Cheese -
It came with some walnuts, fresh grapes and some kind of blackcurrant or wine Jelly, something to that effect but no one explained to us in the end. I liked the presentation of this a lot as it is so Mediterranean and I even found a Vine Leaf lining the slate platter. I ate that too oops.. ~ 9/10
Surprisingly I found these better balanced than downstairs Tosca. Latter was too chocolaty based. Up a few floors, these were actually more like Italian Pasticcini and should be more appropriate for downstairs Tosca.
Some Zacapa X.O. to finish the night -
I tried to warm this drink up in my palms to release more aromas.
That’s what my old Uncles taught me when we were eating in Chiuchow restaurants in town and whatever they say doesn’t mean I have to believe them, but at least I gave it a try to see if it worked. That’s all the fun part of eating and drinking.
Price: (Meal hosted by Zacapa Rum at Ritz Carlton Hotel, HK)
Ease of Access: 4/5
118 Floor, Ritz Carlton Hong Kong, Austin Road West, No.1 ICC, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Ph: 2263 2270