Date of review: January 29, 2015 | Reviewed by: Charmaine Mok
Situated on the 28th floor of a new building on a quiet Central cul-de-sac, soon to be saturated with luxury fashion and fine dining, Philippe Orrico’s On fits right in with its surroundings, with its neighbours being Shane Osborn’s Arcane and new high-end Chinese restaurant Lai Bun Fu. On’s Tim Shepherd-designed interiors combine old-fashioned elegance with modern minimalism, featuring blood-red curtains with their theatrical connotations, glossy marble counters, and white leather armchairs. It’s a strange departure from the cool, almost Scandi-chic interpretation Shepherd conjured for Orrico’s first restaurant, Upper Modern Bistro; we’re not completely convinced by the entire look, but the vibe of the restaurant is undoubtedly fun, with a full house of diners making merry. To reach the dining room, you must enter via the 29th floor bar, which has a slightly more cohesive aesthetic with its turquoise chairs, wood flooring and Keith Haring-esque ceiling murals.
If you are familiar with Orrico’s style of cuisine from his Sheung Wan bistro, the menu at On is not too much of a departure. The chef’s iconic 63C eggs are also found here, served with sautéed mushrooms, bisque and yuzu; we skip this in favour of the intriguingly international dish of langoustine lasagne with sautéed veal sweetbreads and a lime and coconut sauce. Thin, translucent sheets of pasta akin to Cantonese cheung fun are delicately draped over a richly flavoured melange of bouncy shellfish and creamy sweetbreads. Little crescents of juicy shiitake are a surprise element in the dish, taking the dish more towards a Chinese flavour profile than the expected Thai, but it is no less of a success because of it. The roasted pigeon with artichokes and lemon chutney is another stellar plate, the bird cooked to a tender blush with a sheath of crisp, caramelised skin. The artichokes are slightly mealy, but it’s a minor quibble. The lemon chutney offers flashpoints of acidity and sweetness that the gamey meat needs, but we’re more impressed by the sticky jus peppered with mustard seeds. Up a notch on the richness level is the quail and lobster pie (which also includes unadvertised foie gras), served with a piquillo-spiked bisque sauce that we unashamedly drink up with our spoons once we have despatched the pie. For dessert, the warm madeleines are made fresh-to-order and are the stuff of Proustian dreams; the apple Chantilly cream it’s served with, however, lacks body and has already started to split by the time we dig in. Much better is the cheese selection (overseen by the restaurant’s resident curd nerd Jeremy Evrard, formerly of Four Seasons), which on our visit included glorious tangerine-hued mimolette, 48-month Comté and a velvety Fourme d’Ambert.
We recommend arriving earlier to have a pre-dinner cocktail at the lounge, as the drinks menu includes some excellent libations crafted by Giancarlo Mancino (ex-Otto e Mezzo), such as the house Old Fashioned and the Mancino Rickey, which is refreshing with the addition of shiso and yuzu. On’s wine service is headed up by award-winning sommelier Nicolas Deneux, previously of Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, and his recommendations for pairings are remarkably on-point. Deneux is known for his commitment to promoting boutique and organic growers, so there are plenty of interesting bottles to peruse on the compact menu, including lesser-known Champagne houses.
Servers are friendly, and were helpful when it came to moving us (and our various coats and bags) from the cocktail lounge to the dining room. In addition, they were adept at making recommendations, and we found little to fault with our dining experience.
A meal for two with wine and service comes to around HK$2,200. The pricing for individual dishes is on the high side, but it is Central and the execution is at a level to justify it.