Classic dishes get up-to-the-minute makeovers to tickle the taste buds of adventurous diners
Ava Restaurant Slash Bar
38/F, Hotel Panorama
8A Hart Avenue
Tsim Sha Tsui
FARE Modern European.
AMBIENCE Sky-high glamour complete with a 'bullet lift' to the 38th floor.
WHO TO BRING Book early to get a window table for a perfect romantic date.
COST HK$2,000 for three-course meal for two with wine.
TURN-ONS The duo of crab, also known as the Ice Balloon, is a stunning entree that will steal your gaze from the skyline. Essentially, it's a crab salad but colourfully layered inside an ice balloon, keeping the ingredients wonderfully chilled. For mains, the salt marsh lamb was tender and perfectly pink, with the ratatouille a display of the chef's exquisite knife skills and complex grasp of flavour. The Cap, pedigree Aberdeen Angus beef from a Welsh farm, was equally pleasing. If you only have one steak a year, make it this one. To bookend the wow-factor of the entree, the table-side service gives you a front-row seat to witnessing cream turn into ice cream with the help of liquid nitrogen (pictured).
TURN-OFFS The Atlantic salmon missed the mark with a too-soft texture and the goat cheese snow was hardly detectable, while the claim of wood smoked en route to the table was also missing.
DRINKS Good recommendations by staff on wines by the bottle and the glass. Lana Lam
7/F, Landmark Mandarin Oriental
15 Queen's Road Central
FARE Contemporary French with an international twist.
AMBIENCE Restrained elegance, courtesy of an intimate space and Adam Tihany-designed interiors.
WHO TO BRING Clients, friends, family.
COST HK$3,032 for two with drinks.
TURN-ONS Unobtrusive staff provide some of the best service in the city, while culinary director Richard Ekkebus delights and surprises with innovative and artfully presented dishes. Our dinner began with a selection of amuse-bouche - including a foie gras lollipop and white artichoke soup - to accompany the crisp chenin blanc recommended by sommelier John Chan. Other highlights included duck foie gras, steamed then charcoal-grilled; grilled fillet of wild Suzuki seabass balanced by a rich olive and beef jus sauce; and delicate white asparagus with seared langoustine, brown morels and belotta ham tartines. Leave some room for the must-try French farmer cheeses.
TURN-OFFS It's hard to find fault, but some diners have said it lacks a harbour view.
DRINKS International wine list with a focus on French labels. Tama Lung
15 Hollywood Road
Central 2530 1890
FARE Modern Spanish.
AMBIENCE High seats with marble tabletops. Seating for larger groups upstairs.
COST HK$800 for dinner for two including two glasses of wine.
WHO TO BRING Colleagues or clients.
TURN-ONS A complementary gazpacho was less a variation on the classic soup and more a refreshing welcome drink. The little pork rib burgers with red pepper jam were wonderfully tender but the promised blue cheese dressing was conspicuous by its absence. The chorizo, potato and cheese casserole is a pleasing combination but be sure to order some bread. Grilled Hokkaido scallops look delightful on confitted piquillo peppers topped with red onion jam and garlic sauce. The black Angus beef short ribs melts in the mouth. For dessert the banana-toffee and chocolate mousse are sure to please.
TURN-OFFS The short ribs are served only with potato and truffle puree. You need to order vegetables separately.
DRINKS The wine list is mostly Spanish with several options by the glass. David Sutton
L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon
Shop 315 & 401, The Landmark
FARE Contemporary French.
AMBIENCE The restaurant has sleek dark walls and floors, creating a cocoon for gourmets at the bar that looks into the open kitchen, while the dining room is behind a glass door.
COST HK$3,245 for two, including a glass of wine and mineral water.
WHO TO BRING Your significant other or close friends.
TURN-ONS A creamy start with the cauliflower soup with soft-boiled egg, Iberico ham and croutons, while the scamp ravioli were divine, topped with black truffle and dressed in foie gras sauce. We loved the slow-cooked duck breast. Each piece was complemented with foie gras in a heavenly combination. For dessert, the surprise chocolate ball was dramatic, with hot caramel sauce melting a delicate chocolate ball containing Tahiti vanilla ice cream. A fruitier finish was the luscious mango cream and sorbet with raspberry sauce underneath.
TURN-OFFS The teppanyaki sole was dressed with crushed pistachio and a sauce of tomato, olive and onion. It was a pity we were not warned the portion would be so big.
DRINKS The wine list is heavily focused on France. Brernice Chan
Shop 3027, IFC Mall
8 Finance Street
FARE European snacks and sandwiches.
AMBIENCE Futuristic wine bar with a small dining area. The wine list is a touch screen built into the bar.
COST HK$1,000 for dinner for two including two glasses of wine.
WHO TO BRING Clients or a significant other.
TURN-ONS All menu items are made with or include wine. The charcuterie plates include cheeses, cold meat and wine jelly. The largest size includes all choices but if you go for a smaller one, do try the Montgomery's Cheddar. The Roast Beast sandwich is a savoury onion bun filled with tender sliced rib-eye and braised shallots served with a tart verjus sauce. Mac and Cheese features orecchiette pasta in a rich chardonnay and smoked cheddar sauce. For dessert try the Brownie with a Merlot and cherry chili jam or the white chocolate cheesecake with ice wine reduction.
TURN-OFFS The music was too loud.
DRINKS More than 700 wines and a small selection of beers. David Sutton
23 Wing Fung Street
AMBIENCE Modern European decor spread over three floors with private dining rooms.
COST HK$2,245 for two with two glasses of wine.
WHO TO BRING Perfect for professionals wanting to entertain clients or colleagues.
TURN ONS The sommelier paired the rich pan fried foie gras with pre-summer cherries with a 1996 glass of Guilhem de Fargues, Bordeaux, and in doing so drew out the unique tastes of each. The white asparagus soup was served with an aged 18-month Mimolette cheese, giving the dish a vibrant flavour. The black cod had been marinated in a trio of miso pastes for 14 hours and was presented elegantly in a hoba leaf with a delicate strip of young ginger; the grilled Kagoshima beef tenderloin was served with a miso sauce and Japanese white asparagus.
TURN OFFS Main courses were somewhat bland, with no additional side ingredients. No printed vegetarian menu and the English ability of waiting staff was limited.
DRINKS Extensive choice of French wines and a selection of world wines. Marie Incles
2/F, The Luxe Manor
39 Kimberley Road
Tsim Sha Tsui
FARE 'Progressive' cuisine.
AMBIENCE There are four dining areas, two modern, one resembling a garden and the one we ate in was like the interior of the Hogwarts Express.
COST HK$4,229 for eight-course dinner for two, including wine pairings.
WHO TO BRING Adventurous foodies.
TURN-ONS Of all the dishes, the most intriguing was not one of the courses but apple mousse smoked butter with a lingering smoky taste. The tomato avocado mousse was curious, a deconstructed salad with powdered arugula and mini parmesan meringue that melted in the mouth. Beetroot and wagyu beef were an interesting combination while the Boston lobster had a buttery taste.
TURN-OFFS Italian peas with sea urchin was bland and a risotto that included tapioca and eggplant puree with fennel salad and dill didn't have much flavour either. The palate cleanser of honey and lemon was too tart.
DRINKS The wine pairings were good though excessive, having one glass for each course. Brernice Chan