Although Art HK is still a week away, we decided to get in on the festivities early and checked out the Art HK 2012 menu at the Mandarin Oriental’s Mandarin Grill + Bar. When else will you be encouraged to actually touch – let alone eat – the art?
What it is: Although we were sceptical that an art inspired menu could really be, well, all that inspired, we were blown away not only by the food, but the presentation.
The three-course lunch (HK$688 + 10 percent per person) includes the “Graffiti”, “Painting” and “Colours” offerings; the five-course dinner (HK$1,488 + 10 percent per person) includes the original three items plus “Sculpture”, “Photography” and “Music”. Bonus: both sets come with a ticket to see Art HK 2012.
The food: This menu is the result of a Mandarin Executive Chef Uwe Opocensky's labour of love. It reportedly took him over five months to come up with the five courses, going through “draft” after “draft” of each dish until he found the right combinations of food and design.
Although named for art forms, each course is completely edible, although beautiful enough you might have pangs of regret from destroying it once you start eating.
Must-try: Highlights are the “Graffiti” which was made to represent a graffiti-covered Berlin Wall. The wall itself is made from foie gras and brioche, the combination is topped with an edible sheet that's the canvas for the graffiti. The portion could easily feed two, but can’t really hold that against it.
The painting course is also a highlight –- a perfectly framed pastoral image is made out of multi-coloured purees and tender beef. The sun (a poached egg) shines down in the piece. After you've done taking pictures of you "picture" (admit it, you do) it is topped with gravy.
Although both the “Graffiti “ and the “Painting” are beautiful, the art/item on the menu that would make any artist proud is “Music”, the dessert course. Only part of the dinner menu, this dish was created in front of our eyes on a silicon tablemat as we listened to an iPod nano buried in neon chocolates.
As we looked on, the chef created a chocolate-filled wonderland that would keep any class of kindergarteners on sugar highs for months.
We watched as a chocolate frame was strewn with chocolate sprinkles, chocolate paintbrushes, chocolate cups, chocolate covered almonds, chocolate crayons –- you get the idea. The highlight of the whole process was when the chef picked up a small sugar globe with dried ice smoke pouring out of it and then smashed it into the middle of our table.
This chocoholic’s dream was finished with scoops of ice cream and raspberry sorbet, sugar-covered marshmallows and smears of coconut milk and raspberry sauce. Beyond adding colourful accents they also broke-up the chocolate overload (yes, that can happen), letting us dig into the piles of chocolate still on the table once our palate was (relatively) cleansed.
The only thing we regret? Not taking a video of the whole process; photos don't do this set-up justice. This dessert actually does deserve being called “art”.
Art HK 2012 Menu runs through 20 May 2012, Mandarin Grill + Bar, Mandarin Oriental, 5 Connaught Road, Central, +852 2825 4004, www.mandarinoriental.com/hongkong