Musings of a bon vivant in Hong Kong


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Art and food at The Drawing Room

Since its opening in 2009, The Drawing Room has unassumingly established itself as one of the top fine-dining restaurants in Causeway Bay, with a solid reputation, knowledgeable wait staff and a sleek menu.The Drawing Room

My first visit, over two years ago, saw it still finding its feet, with some room for improvement in service and a few tweaks needed for a couple of its dishes. But when I returned recently, it was to a smoothly run and confident establishment.

The Drawing Room was Tony Cheng’s first venture into the F&B business and the beginning of a successful partnership with Master Chef Roland Schuller, who recently opened AMMO together. Most will have soft spots for their original projects, and one can tell that they’ve not let their other undertakings get in the way of the attention to detail and quality of their dishes.

Rach and I headed to the restaurant in torrential rain, so it was a welcome comfort to step into the carpeted entrance and be greeted by friendly staff who helped me with my now useless umbrella and ushered me to my seat. We settled at the tables on the elevated platform at the front, getting a good view of the rest of the softly elegant space and the art work (provided by MobArt Gallery).

The Drawing Room is open only for dinner and provides four and five-course tasting menus, with each course having three choices to choose from. Our dinner was a signature dish affair, showcasing Chef Schuller’s finest creations. We started with the Pan Fried Quail and Foie Gras with Hazelnut and Cherries.

Pan Fried Quail and Foie Gras with Hazelnut and Cherries.

Pan Fried Quail and Foie Gras with Hazelnut and Cherries.

The quail was cooked perfectly, the skin crisp, the meat tender. Unfortunately, the foie gras was tad overdone, the outside a bit too charred which slightly marred the silky, creamy taste within. The cherries were a lovely addition, helping to cut through the richness of the dish.

Schuller’s popular Linguine with Canary Island Red Prawn and Crispy Artichokes was beautifully prepared. The prawn and its juices mixed in with the al dente linguine tasted sublime and the artichoke slices gave it a nice crunch.

Linguine with Canary Island Red Prawn and Crispy Artichokes

Linguine with Canary Island Red Prawn and Crispy Artichokes

Our third course was the Trio of Wagyu Short Rib, Wagyu Beef Tenderloin and Ox Tongue. Consistency was a problem here with the ox tongue the clear winner of the three with its succulent and bouncy texture. The tenderloin was good and well flavoured but the short rib was overcooked and a little dry. The Dauphinoise potatoes and the pretty mound of vegetables on the side were pleasing to the eye and to the palate.

Trio of Waygu Beef

Trio of Waygu Beef

To end, we had the stunning Pear Tart with Vanilla Ice-cream. I thoroughly enjoyed the flaky pastry and the pear slices delicately layered on top retained their juices and gave the dessert a wonderful fruity aroma. The ice-cream was scrumptious too, in all its vanilla pod glory.

Pear Tart with Vanilla Ice-cream

Pear Tart with Vanilla Ice-cream

We were also treated to the divine Dark Chocolate and Hazelnut Praline cake with Vanilla Ice-cream, which delighted Rach with its sinful velvet chocolate exterior and a rich, nutty interior.

Dark Chocolate and Hazelnut Praline cake with Vanilla Ice-cream

Dark Chocolate and Hazelnut Praline cake with Vanilla Ice-cream

The service that night was impeccable. Our waitress was attentive and conversant in each dish and there were no prolonged waits between courses. Rach and I felt at ease to enjoy our meal without any rush and we ended our evening satiated and warm. Unfortunately for us, we soon had to leave the comforts of The Drawing Room and brave the deluge outside.

Chopstixfix rating: 3/5

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The Drawing Room, J Plus Boutique Hotel 1/F, 1-5 Irving Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong | Tel: +852 2915-6628

5-course meal: $930 + 10% per person

4-course meal: $760 +10% per person

You can also see this review on Sassy.

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Fuelling the Appetite at AMMO

It’s not often that a new restaurant finds a unique setting in Hong Kong. But new kid on the block AMMO has found a fiery site at the Asia Society Hong Kong Centre, formerly an explosives magazine compound created by the British Army in the mid-19th century.
Nestled against a bountiful backdrop of greenery and foliage, AMMO’s floor-to-ceiling glass construction looks like a very classy greenhouse with copper embellishments: spiral staircases cleverly suspended as chandeliers, a huge copper mural on the wall and a bunker-like ceiling. Overall, the modern sleek design beautifully represents the site’s former use.

Given the location, look and feel of the place, one would expect the cuisine to be on the steep side, but Chefs Tony Cheng and Roland Schuller (the man behind The Drawing Room in Causeway Bay) have created a focused menu for diners that is elegant but affordable. One can enjoy all the trappings of a fine dining restaurant but without the pretension. The a la carte menu has a lovely selection of starters and scrumptious pastas, some of which have Asian flavours and elements infused, thus reflecting Chef Tony Cheng’s aim of a cross-cultural offering (there is a tapas bar menu too).

A big attraction is the delicious 3-course set lunch menu, which has an attractive price ($188 +10% per person) and is changed on a weekly basis. Our lovely host Lauren thankfully chose a selection of dishes both a la carte and set menu for Food4Media.com’s Resham, Rach and I to feast on, which saved us from the agony of trying to pick dishes as frankly, we wanted to eat everything!

We sampled the light and refreshing sweet Japanese prawn with cherry gazpacho from the set menu, swiftly followed by some excellent grilled scallops with ginger, chives and Japanese pumpkin (an a la carte appetiser). The scallops were plump, delicately seasoned and perfected cooked and were complimented by the pumpkin puree.

A standout starter and an AMMO favourite is the slow cooked egg with toro, sea urchin and zucchini sauce. It was extremely satisfying breaking the egg and seeing the gorgeous runny yolk ooze and mix in with the rest of the ingredients on the plate. The freshness of the toro and the urchin plus the egg was like a party in my mouth!

We gleefully tucked into four pasta dishes for mains. Rach commented that sometimes pasta portions are so huge that you can’t fully appreciate the flavours, instead spending time wrestling with a mound of carbs; however at AMMO, the portions were well controlled, the homemade pasta (made with chicken eggs) nicely al dente and the sauce allowed to do the talking.

The tuna tartar taglioni had a piquant yoghurt sauce that added a wonderful depth to the pasta. For a pasta dish, it’s relatively light and I would recommend it (should it appear again in the future), if you are seeking something a little less heavy going at lunch.

The angel hair with uni, tomatoes and garlic chips was a solid dish and again, perfectly seasoned. If you’re a fan of uni, you’ll enjoy mixing the creamy sea urchin into the angel hair and tasting that rich, slightly sweet flavour of the sea.

I loved the pappardelle with veal and pork meatballs; I could’ve eaten a whole plate of the meatballs alone, they were that tasty. I enjoyed the egginess of the pappardelle, which soaked up the superb tomato sauce and makes you hanker for more.

But the real triumph of the pasta mains was the Burrata cheese ravioli with Peking duck ragout. It was hard work sharing this dish, and if you’re as much of a cheese fanatic as I am, this is the piece de resistance! Everything about this dish was sublime, from the creaminess of the cheese, to the soft yet firm and chewy bounce of the ravioli, down to the salty meatiness of the duck ragout. I was in pasta heaven.

Last, but definitely not least, were the desserts. We had the mochi with fresh berry from the set menu and the pan-fried brioche and vanilla panna cotta from the a la carte. I love it when panna cotta has lots of visible vanilla seeds, and AMMO’s was delectable and surprisingly light. 

The brioche was fabulous and very reminiscent of the kind of French toast you’d make for yourself as a naughty treat – beautiful and crisp on the outside, soft and rich on the inside. The mochi were bite-sized fruity delights and made for a great palate cleanser.

Asia Society Hong Kong Centre has hit the right note by establishing AMMO and bridging the gap between casual affordable cuisine and fine dining. The location is fantastic, though a little out of the way, and on the two occasions I’ve been, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the food, the decor and the ambience. Service is smooth and friendly, and it feels as if you’re dining somewhere quite swish. And the best part is that your wallet doesn’t tremble at the sight of the bill when it arrives.

Chopstixfix rating: 4/5

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AMMO, Asia Society Hong Kong Centre, 9 Justice Drive, Admiralty, Hong Kong, 2537 9888
www.ammo.com.hk

You can also read the review on Sassy.