By: Claire Locking
The view from the 25th-floor dining room of Pierre restaurant could be from a Hong Kong of yesteryear; the portholes of Jardine House, home of one of the city’s oldest trading companies, seem near enough to touch and the original Star Ferry pier, now dwarfed by modernity, stares up at you from the harbour below.
There is nothing old-fashioned, however, about the culinary wizardry unfolding inside. Pierre is the Hong Kong offshoot of three-Michelin-star Pierre Gagnaire in Paris. And, although the Hong Kong establishment has seen amazing diners and restaurant critics since 2006, times are changing with the arrival from Sketch in London of new Chef de Cuisine, Jean-Denis Le Bras.
The new summer tasting menu marks the first time Brittany-born Jean-Denis has collaborated with his mentor Pierre Gagnaire and it’s proving to be a dining hot ticket. The menu consists of eight meticulously designed courses (HK$1,988); I was thankful I didn’t have to navigate my way around a menu laden with mystery and gastro-terminology.
We started with a plate of perfect bite-sized amuse-bouches including a tarragon marshmallow, so delicious we feel sure the humble marshmallow is set to follow in the footsteps of the macaron as the next trend in food.
Our starter was a mouthful, at least by name: crabmeat, baby squids and cucumber coated with button mushroom jelly, stuffed brioche with spider crab and grapefruit, sardine infusion and olive oil sherbet. The crab I found slightly overpowering but the olive oil sherbet – more of a cream, really – was a welcome palate cleanser.
Next came a borlotti cocoa beans timbale thickened with velvety foie gras/green curry soup, pan-sauteed girolles mushrooms with fresh almond. This was an intriguing dish; the early season girolles, which you would expect to be earthy and robust, were surprisingly acidic and tart. This however, didn’t detract from the combination of flavours and textures, which was sublime.
Pierre often likes to surprise diners with an extra course and for us this was Brittany lobster flown in that morning. The blue lobster fillets were served with summer cabbage, pistachio powder and a sprinkling of perfect frozen raspberries. Tender and delicious, even if I found the pistachio and Parmesan accompaniment to be slightly overpowering.
The main was a triumph: roasted rump of veal flavoured with oregano, sweet onion puree with smoked lard, tiny artichoke poivrade and celery sticks with a minted garden pea ice cream. The veal was melt in the mouth as a result of the low-heat cooking and a final dip in melted butter. The garden pea ice cream – summer in a cup!
Grand Dessert arrives in four individual portions: pear ice cream, spiced chocolate soup, poached peaches with miniature coloured meringues and a lime ice cream. Decadence delivered!
Pierre Gagnaire says: “For a dish to be good, it needs to open up the entire palette of emotions”. A visit to Pierre does just that.
25/F Mandarin Oriental
5 Connaught Road, Central
2825 4001 | mandarinoriental.com/hongkong