Date of review: February 2, 2015 | Reviewed by:
Set on the top end of Star Street, The Principal is a little pocket of calm in one of Hong Kong’s most desirable neighbourhoods. Once you step inside, it’s easy to forget the city chaos that is just minutes away, especially once you settle into one of the comfortable plaid-lined booths that offer secluded privacy. Smart light woods and streamlined furniture gives the space a muted elegance, and in the evening the soft lighting there is a romantic air about the place.
We have charted The Principal’s evolution over time and have come away impressed by how it has continued to up its game – the menu now is starkly different to the one of their freshman debut, no small feat considering the breadth of global influences that now make up their culinary oeuvre. While dishes have roots in European traditions, there are hints of fish sauce in a dish of steamed foie gras; there’s sambal adding heat and coconut lending sweetness to fleshy cod; masala spice and grassy okra lift the flavours in a tranche of lamb shoulder encircled with tangy yoghurt. The Carabinerodish showcases a sweet single red prawn with richly flavoured black rice and aioli. While the nutty crunch of quinoa adds great texture to the dish titled Sea, comprising sea urchin, calamari and sea cress. The Indian inspiration behind Lamb is clear, but the masala spices are a light, complementary whisper rather than overpowering. The yoghurt sauce and fresh okra also add freshness to the lamb shoulder.
The wine list is referred to as an atlas – an impressive tome with more than 700 labels cast over a wide geographical spread, emphasising more unusual and boutique producers. Should you want to know the exact longitude and latitude of wine regions such as the Loire Valley, this information is included – an oenophile’s dream.
Service is impeccable, from the day we reserve to the moment we leave. Water glasses are topped up regularly but unobtrusively, and we enjoy the detailed dish descriptions and wine pairing notes from our waiter.
A tasting menu for two with wine pairing and service will come to just under HK$4,000. Given the high quality cooking and interesting wine pairings, we feel this is a fair price to pay.