Amuse Bouche・Amuse Bouch
Date of review: August 22, 2012 | Reviewed by:
Although the interior of Amuse Bouche tries hard with its modernist aesthetic, the decor is far upstaged by the view over Wan Chai from the restaurant’s floor-to-ceiling windows on the 22nd floor. The effect is light and airy, useful for what is essentially a fairly small restaurant. A main raised dining area in the middle of the room can be sectioned off for private groups, while smaller areas seating two to four diners surround it on either side, where Gotham City-like views of Hong Kong reign supreme.
The menu is traditional French, with an emphasis on premium international ingredients such as truffles, Japanese botan shrimps and jamón ibérico de bellota. Unusually, dishes from the two tasting menus can be ordered individually. Unfortunately, our meal begins disappointingly, with the kitchen failing to nail its namesake offering. The amuse bouche of clam in a fish gelée with cauliflower foam is overcooked, bland and a little unwieldy to eat. Better is the 72-month aged Iberian ham, a rare find in Hong Kong. It’s an expensive, but delectable, starter; the meat delicious and tender.The signature botan shrimp and sea urchin with mango and avocado salad is a mish-mash of flavours served in a martini glass, with the mango completely overwhelming the delicate taste of what is considered one of the world’s best shrimps.. The lobster bisque with morels, however, is a delight. While it could do with a touch more acidity, the soup is surprisingly light, with a subtle flavor that shows off the nicely caramelised chunks of lobster and the morels; it’s also plated beautifully, and served piping hot. The roast scampi topped with farmed caviar, sea urchin, steamed organic egg and cauliflower cream may be a little over-seasoned, but the scampi is well-cooked and the sauce helps to balance out the flavours of the dish. The organic steamed egg is a letdown for what surely should have been a highlight of the dish; the egg is overcooked and its delicate flavours are overwhelmed by the caviar and sea urchin. The daily special of Iberian pork rack with seasonal vegetables and potato lyonnaise featured surprisingly flavourless pork, which was unevenly cooked; some parts of the pork are pink and tender, while other areas are dry and overcooked. The black truffle sauce is a highlight though, perfectly reduced with plenty of earthy umami flavor, and the seasonal vegetables are well cooked. For desserts, the bitter chocolate and banana tart is petite and lighter than expected with a warm fluffy chocolate mousse and warm bananas. The accompanying lime and lemon sorbet on the side doubles as a refreshing palate cleanser, as well.
The wine list at Amuse Bouche is extensive and extremely well-versed. Bottles range from HK$350 to HK$50,000 – the latter may be an eyebrow-raising figure, but the list is fairly evenly spread in between. Two whites and two reds are available by-the-glass, and the selection is regularly rotated. On our visit, we enjoyed an extremely good 2006 Torbreck Sémillon from Australia and a 2009 Chardonnay from Macon-Villages Compte Lafon but there was also a 2008 Barbera and a 2004 Bordeaux on offer.
Not only was no one here to greet upon arrival, the entire staff seemed to be in the middle of a meeting when we arrived. The air-conditioning was hurriedly switched on only after we were seated, but aside from this small hiccup, the front-of-house staff are extremely polite and fairly knowledgeable. Service from the kitchen, however, is rather unreliable; an hour into our meal, we were left still waiting for our second course.
A meal for two with a glass of wine each comes to about HK$2,500, an expensive meal for this part of town and for the level of cuisine offered - but the menu is admirable, the view is stunning and the wine list impressive.