The Krug Room・庫克廳
Date of review: December 3, 2012 | Reviewed by:
There’s a real feeling of adventure when dining at the unlisted Krug Room, which is actually tucked in away deep into the heart of the Mandarin Oriental, past The Chinnery (one must walk through the room surreptitiously) and the spooky, dimmed corridors leading to the main restaurant kitchen. Inside, a formidable marble communal table dominates the room, seating 12, and one side of the wall looks into the kitchen’s underbelly. The design is quirky, with floating plates and fresh roses in test tubes looming above diners’ heads, and another wall made from the wood of barrels used to house Krug itself. A blackboard with chalk writing lists out the night’s feast in esoteric crossword form. The hard surfaces do mean that it can get quite noisy, especially after a few courses and the champagne coursing through diners’ veins.
Chef Uwe Opocensky is nothing short of a culinary maestro, one who confidently navigates and conducts an impressive roster of high-quality ingredients into a symphony of flavours, textures and sights. The chef trained previously at el Bulli, and the heightened sense of innovation and whimsy is not in short supply here, though rarely at the expense of crafting simply good food. An introduction to the Krug Room implores diners to “check [their] pre-conceptions at the door”, and indeed the multi-course tasting menu is terse enough to allow room for imagination to take flight, but always anchored to a central ingredient. “Tinned”, followed by “hamachi / tomato / cress” is a playfully presented fish course of yellowtail sashimi, tomato puree and herbs in a sardine tin, while the grand finale of Krug on the Moon brings the chef out himself in a move akin to performance art. A silicone placemat is rolled out across the length of the table, over which Opocensky paints, dribbles and sprinkles chocolate, biscuit crumbs, popping candy, meteor-like ice cream and a chocolate sphere. In between, not everything is a full-on success; a course of raw kindai tuna, scallop and mixed seaweeds is au naturel to the point that the dish errs on the side of blandness, while a palate cleanser of tomato and peach consommé is too acidic to be pleasurable. But heirloom beets with intensely savoury curls of culatello ham, dots of goats’ cheese, crisp “leaves” made from freeze-dried yoghurt and surprisingly piquant winterberry blossoms is a perfect combination and sight to behold.
Bubbles, bubbles and more bubbles is the Krug Room’s raison d’être, with the most basic set menu coming with two glasses of Krug Grand Cuvée (HK$2,100 a bottle), which matched beautifully with most of the courses. Coveted vintages and rare Krug collections will send a champagne connoisseur to heaven and back. Diners can also order from the Mandarin Oriental’s main wine list.
Service is, as expected from the dedicated suited and black-gloved waiters and the Mandarin Oriental, is courteous yet relaxed, and convivial without being unprofessional. The only minor flaw was when our glasses were left at dangerously low levels before being topped up again.
The most basic set menu for two, including two glasses of Krug Grand Cuvee, costs HK$2,288 per person without service. For the setting, quality and creativity of the food and unbeatable champagne, this is an experience worth splurging on.