Shopping, eating and fucking seem to be the major preoccupations of Hong Kong’s wealthy elite, if the just-opened 1881 Heritage development is anything to judge by. You can idle your time in the Mont Blanc or Piaget stores, eat in the cafés and restaurants of the fabulous Hullett House, which overlooks this upmarket shopping development, or even slip upstairs to one of the hotel’s 11 bedrooms for some afternoon delight if you’re able to afford its shamelessly high prices.
There’s nothing else in Hong Kong quite like Hullett House, the new name for the old Marine Police Headquarters at the tip of Tsim Sha Tsui. It’s one of the best examples of restored British colonial architecture in this former colony. Restaurateur David Yeo and his team at the Aqua Group are behind the sympathetic decor which enhances the Victorian building’s grandeur. Among the several options are a cocktail bar kitted out in chinoiserie, a British-style pub, a café with terrace, a top-whack Chinese restaurant, and a tapestry-lined restaurant serving Modern European food curiously called St. George, which is where we planted ourselves for the evening. Starters at St. George range from $120 up to $240; main courses from $190 up to $680 (for wagyu beef); desserts all $140. This is a lot of money by any standard; in London you could eat at Gordon Ramsay’s flagship, three-Michelin-starred restaurant for this much.
The menu’s written in the English lexicon of international food snobbery, name-dropping – and misspelling – trendy ingredients such as ‘boncoccini’ (bocconcini cheese) and ‘vadovan’ (vadouvan spice mix). As such it gives you little clue as to what your dishes might actually be like. ‘Crispy 63° Eggs’ ($180) is a reference to the fading fad for slowly poaching eggs below boiling point, which should result in an unusual, almost glutinous texture. Ours was not one of the best versions, much closer to the texture of a normal poached egg and liquid in the centre. It sat on top of a mash of sweet potato and wild mushroom, surrounded by a moat of seafood sauce they describe as ‘crab meat velouté’; a good flavour combination. Complimentary appetisers and pre-desserts punctuate the menu, such as a foam of strawberry over a gazpacho-like tomato liquid, or tiny, thumbnail-sized macaroons after the main course.
Beautiful presentation is to be expected in a fine dining restaurant, but off-piste forays include the brutal-looking diced beef bone marrow, simply served on toast like bruschetta (starter portion: $120). This brown food was jollied up by addition of a bowl of microgreens with bright flower petals; a nice touch.
The least successful dish was the ‘leek and potato soup’ ($180). This looked like brown porridge, and was served with a slice of toast topped with partially melted lardo di Colonnata, a sliver of aged lard which is a delicacy in its native Tuscany. Neither lard nor soup was well-received by our group, mainly because the appearance of both was off-putting, and the gloopy broth didn’t resemble any leek and potato soup we’ve had before. ‘Black cod land & sea’ ($320) was a far better dish, though the white beer foam obscured the appealing aroma of this firm fish, and the tiny gratings of black truffle added little aroma of their own. It summed up the cooking here: showy, good craftsmanship, but also overworked and missing the point somewhat of what makes good food a pleasure to eat.
In a recent interview for The Times of London, David Yeo said that business generally in Hong Kong is down more than 20 per cent in the current recession, but that his Aqua Group restaurants were doing very nicely, thank you. Hullett House may also prove recession-proof, because with such a magnificent setting, the big spenders from the mall below are bound to be lured upstairs. But this St. George is no dragon-slayer, and I doubt the Michelin inspectors will be wasting too much time on it over the coming year.
Guy Dimond, Food Editor for Time Out London.
2 Canton Rd, Tsim Tsa Tsui, 3988 0000. Mon-Sat noon-2.30pm, 6pm-10.30pm.
|Venue name:||St. George|
2 Canton Rd, Tsim Tsa Tsui
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