I've been to Mandarin Grill a few times now and have always been blown away by the service, presentation, and most importantly the food. While this latest visit was enjoyable as always, I do feel that the food has gotten a tad salty and I had to drink copious amounts of warm water to finish the meal. At least the servers were quick to refill my cup, and finally decided to leave the whole pot on our table :)
I love the ambiance here with the plush carpets, chairs that you just sink in, and flowers everywhere, not to mention the open kitchen where you can see Executive Chef Uwe running around doing his thing. We visited on a Monday night and all the tables were full of business execs, making me feel slightly out of place!
bread basket - que oui!
We demolished this basket as it came piping hot and was completely irresistible. I tried a German pretzel, a small roll stuffed with olive paste, something sweet and flaky, rye bread... Everything was delicious, especially with their olive oil! A server rolled out a trolley with five different olive oils to choose from - a French (with hints of hazelnut), two Italian (one stronger one milder), one Moroccan and one other I can't remember that contained walnuts. I chose the extra virgin Moroccan and it was divine, very smooth and tasted almost buttery? They brought over another bread basket after we powered through the first one and I had to exercise utmost self-restraint to not reach over and grab some more...
There was a trio of three amuses bouches for us to try this evening, presented very creatively with a big plant which we were warned we could not eat :P We were told to start with the cheese puffs (in the silver trey), then move onto the cheese biscuits (kind of hidden behind the big plant), and finally the spoon of olive something or other as a palate cleanser. The cheese puff was really yummy and burst in my mouth. The cheese biscuit was pretty good too, very buttery and crumbly. They reminded me of these cheese biscuits I used to love from Muji that sadly I can never find anymore. The olive "thing" (sorry not very technical I know) was interesting but not really to my tastes.
Not much a fan of lobster but apparently this was very salty and we weren't too sure what to do with the foam in the center. We eventually tried to mix it with the soup but it ended up looking like a big clump of mess that wasn't all too appetizing :\
cauliflower and cheese
A classic pairing. This was one of their new dishes so I definitely wanted to try it. The dish consisted of cauliflower (I believe they were sourced from California and came in all colours! So exciting!), melted cheese at the bottom, and a warm bechamel sauce drizzled over the top. I was quite surprised by how much I enjoyed this, although it was a tad salty - I can't imagine finishing the entire dish by myself. However, in small doses it was great. The cauliflowers had a beautiful crunch and I was surprised that the different coloured ones had slightly different tastes. Doused in cheese + bechamel = perfection!
My main was placed in front of me looking like this... The waiter told me, with a very serious face, that unfortunately this was all the chicken they had left. I think my grandma was noticeably shocked and commented that I would be eating dog food tonight :P Figured it'd be a good diet though haha.
real chicken :)
I was very relieved when my server subsequently came back with a big pot of chicken! It smelt sooo good, all this smoky aroma of chicken fat and broth! Only the breast was served and I was very pleased that it tasted as tender as chicken thighs. The carrots and mixed vegetables which were soaked in the broth were delicious too. Unfortunately, I got so carried up in the rest of my meal that I didn't end up eating the three bones on my plate :p
Last time I was at Mandarin Grill I ordered the ribeye which to this day is still the best ribeye I've had in Hong Kong. My dad decided to try the sirloin instead which as the photo shows, came a perfect medium rare. Unfortunately, it was nowhere near as tender as my ribeye... for $50 extra I would definitely upgrade :P The pot of butter corn on the side was most sinful though and I wished I had ordered another pot on the side!
For some reason, when I saw "mallard duck" I was slightly put off because it always reminds me of the children's book "Make Way for Ducklings" which is about a pair of extremely cute mallard ducks and their little ducklings who make their home in Boston Commons. I can't imagine eating them! However, I did try a small bite of this and it was a little too gamey for my liking.
strawberry fields forever <3
This was beautiful and I can definitely see where Chef Caith Chow (of one-thirtyone) draws his inspiration from. Very earthy! I'm sure you can tell from the picture that there's only one real strawberry here. The others were made out of fresh strawberry ice cream with a dollop of strawberry jam in the center...All sitting atop a bed of "soil" (chocolate crunchy yumminess) and served with cream cheese flavoured ice cream. The ice cream was pretty interesting - it really tasted like cream cheese but for some reason, I was quite addicted to it! There were also mint leaves that provided the perfect complement to the chocolate.
Sorry for the dirty plate, but here are my strawberry innards! It really tasted like ice cream cake (which I love). Great dessert and so beautiful too!!
bread and butter pudding
Not your typical bread and butter pudding, the bread was a raisin brioche with apricot jam. It was light and fluffy, and the ice cream (in the background looking like butter) was actually butter flavoured ice cream! Quite strange but definitely top marks for innovation! Did miss traditional bread and butter pudding though...
Hardly petits fours, I was blown away by the presentation! They made the chocolate truffles look like actual truffles (yay truffle season) and even the truffle shaver was all chocolate and edible. These were delicious and I really wanted to eat them all but they were so so rich. Wished I had milk to wash it down :) Or a tupperware to slowly savour them at home! Such a perfect ending to the meal. It was pretty interesting that the chocolate truffles also had a hint of truffle taste to them too!
A further point on the excellent service here - our waiter was very attentive, taking time to explain to us all the components of each dish, but wasn't overly intrusive. Really makes the dining experience soo much better.
Mandarin Grill + Bar
5 Connaught Road, Central