The meal began with a series of small bytes having different flavors with the aim to awaken the diners' palate. In my case, the kitchen served: Celery with black bean (salty); Lemon meringue (sour); Campari orange jelly (bitter); Jerusalem artichoke (sweet); and Egg custard with tomato compote (umami). For the more serious courses, as expected, I ordered the restaurant's "old creations"
Amber Classics Menu
Foie Gras (Duck Liver) in the form of chupa chup with beetroot & raspberry topped with crispy gingerbread & sea salt - The first "real" dish but in amuse-bouche portion. The lollipop of foie gras terrine was thick and rich but still velvety. The liver was nicely complemented by sweet & silky beetroot as well as raspberry coating - tasty and fun.
New Zealand Scampi in organic tomato & watermelon ‘nage’ with espelette chili & coriander - The big and succulent prawn was lightly torched to give a hint of smokiness. The dish was served chill with refreshing and fruity 'broth'. The addition of olive oil caviar, coriander, edible flowers etc. produce a mixture of flavors and aromas - playful and light, filled with natural oceanic taste.
Hokkaido Sea Urchin in a lobster jell-O with cauliflower, schrenki-dauricus caviar & crispy waffles - This was certainly Chef Ekkebus's most famous dish; it had a better portion of (more) caviar this time - a luxurious and scrumptious dish. Sweet and smooth uni and umami lobster jelly were in harmony with creamy cauliflower and buttery, full-body caviar. It would've been 'perfect' had the kitchen doubled the sea urchin's portion. I used the waffles as my blini by putting cauliflower and caviar on top since these were the most abundant ingredients here. Would it be the last time I savored this iconic dish?
Kuro Awabi (Black Abalone) with a spiced chickpea compote, stewed tomatoes, crunchy celery stalk, braised pork chin & crispy pancetta - The presentation was colorful and it was more complex than your normal abalone dish. The Fukuoka Awabi, cooked sous-vide, was tender with its subtle and natural taste. Then, there were plenty of 'international' produce influencing the overall flavors: spiced chickpea (Indian), pork chin (Chinese), tomatoes & cured pork belly (Italian) - interesting though at times, these many variations distracted rather than enhanced the abalone. Pretty good and a rather unusual way to prepare an abalone
Hakoo farm Miyazaki Wagyu beef, the Strip Loin part; dusted with dried red onion skin & dulse seaweed powder, red pearl onions with black currant in a shiraz reduction - The beef was perfectly cooked medium-rare, a bit charred on the outside, and having the right amount of buttery & melt-in-the-mouth taste. The jus + fatty A5 wagyu were balanced out by the acidity from the red cabbage and black currant shiraz as well as a little sweetness of red onions. An elegant beef course!
Abinao 85% Chocolate Souffle with cacao sorbet - The most famous dessert (it's always been on the menu) at Amber, created by its Chef Patissier - Michael Pretet. It was rich and decadent with flawless execution. The temperature contrast of hot souffle and cold sorbet, bitter and (slightly) sweet flavor in this pure delicious chocolate finale was very comforting. This chocolate was special because of its intensity and long-lasting flavor. I would possibly order again if somehow I still see this dessert on the menu of "Amber volume 2"
The meals ended with some decent mignardises: banana & yuzu tart, ginger chocolate, carrot jelly and cucumber-apple sorbet. The service was friendly, attentive and professional under the leadership of the current manager - Yannick Kiefer. He has been around for more than 4 years and handled many things with confidence and ease. The local staffs might lack charmed, but they did the basic things right and well. Lastly, Amber was also famous for its dining room decor, designed by Adam Tihany. As the name suggested, amber shades (and something similar) dominated its interior color including the walls, carpet and chairs. The most outstanding piece, instead of big chandeliers, was thousands of golden bronze rods suspended from the ceiling. I was wondering whether Amber would keep them post renovation. To enhance the dining experience, only the best tableware was used such as the ones manufactured by Christofle, Bernadaud and Riedel.
It was a very satisfying dinner at a solid 2-star restaurant. One would taste the ingredients exactly how they're supposed to be and more sometimes. Culinary director Richard Ekkebus often added some twist and unexpected elements yet they're not too complex. Wish him and the whole Amber team all the best with the project! My feeling that they would re-invent themselves with the hope of gaining the 3rd star one day and given the red guide book Hong Kong's standard, I think it's not impossible. Dishes' pictures could be seen here - Amber Spring '18
Food (and Wine): 94 pts
Service (and Ambiance): 94 pts