Sunday, July 11, 2010

Short and sweet - Riquiqui

For what seemed like the longest time, Hong Kong had only one dessert bar, Sift, that served "western" desserts - i.e. not HK-style mango puddings, black sesame sweet soup, tofu fa, or even Hokkaido milk puddings etc., but it seems this year is seeing a couple of new contenders to Sift's monopoly. Recently opened are private dessert kitchens Riquiqui and Club Palette, the former offering a three-course dessert-only prix fixe, and the latter, wine pairings.

Riquiqui was totally packed on Saturday night, and we saw a couple of walk-ins getting turned away - luckily we booked. (And bookings are recommended).

Lychee and grapefruit granita

A very nice combo - why hadn't I had this elsewhere before? After all, these fruits aren't uncommon. The  granita was refreshing, tart, sweet with a tiny smear of bitterness, making it the perfect palate refresher or starter. Combined with the deeper, more woody sweetness of the lychee, it made a 'proper', well thought-out dish.

Amarula pudding

When asked what this dish was we were told it was, simply, a chocolate pudding. What arrived was more like a sticky date/toffee pudding with a warm chocolate cake sitting in a huge plate of hot toffee sauce, with caramelised banana and cream cheese ice-cream. I didn't have time to eat dinner beforehand, so while this was rich, I thought it was a fitting main course. Although if you'd already written the toffee + chocolate + cream cheese combo is pretty hardcore. The other choices were fruit pavlova and a cheese plate.

Cheese plate

On the cheese plate were brie, goats' cheese (maybe whipped with something, as it didn't quite have the 'pungent' flavour I'm accustomed to - it seemed toned down), and aged cheddar, served with chutney, walnuts and apple slices. The chutney was quite sweet yet it lacked fragrance, but in general I'm not a huge fan of chutneys so I guess I'm biased. The walnuts were great, I think they were toasted with herbs? The condiments may have been placed so to suggest pairings, but I ended up mixing the pairings up - for example, the green apple placed next to the cheddar actually went better with the goats' cheese. The cheeses themselves seemed quite mass market - maybe of the 'mass luxury' variety, nothing to go crazy over, or to compare with the cheeses at Caprice or even Classified, but then again, what price was I paying?! (Not much at all!)

Petits Fours

To finish, there were apricot shortbread, financiers and coconut marshmallows, all in mini-me portions, which was fine because, honestly, you're pushing it by having a three-course dessert anyway. The shortbread was a little too thin, biscuity and looked undercooked to me, but what constitutes 'good' shortbread differs I suppose. I happen to like mine thicker and more buttery, so it crumbles like a cake of slightly moist sand that was packed tightly together.

The apricot jam inside was a little watery - the shortbread slipped when I bit into it - it reminds me of my own less successful home-baking creations... Not that it tasted bad, but in my opinion it wasn't quite yet of saleable standard.

All this, including a glass of wine, was only $200 per head. A note about wine (or rather, the presenting of it) - we were told that there was red, white, rose, dessert and Prosecco. When I enquired which grape variety each of the wines were, one of the servers had difficulty answering, which I found a bit odd. The chef quickly answered my question (Australian Shiraz, Chardonnay, rose from Burgundy, Semillon and Prosecco), but in this case I think a quickly typed-up or board-written wine list would have helped, as I would have liked to know further details on region, winery, vintage etc., but felt like I was bothering the chef a bit too much! Service is friendly, and most customers were girls - surprise surprise - so it was all a bit 'girl's night out' in there - hint hint boys.

It's right below Liberty Private Works and the space is laid out in much the same way - a long bar overlooking the kitchen - but the kitchen is narrower than LPW's so a couple of small 2-person tables fit in behind. I did quite like the royal-blue and matte gold colour scheme - it was rich without being gaudy, though the chandelier along the bar reflected in the menu board making it a little difficult to read (in addition to the atmospheric low light).

While the food and service aren't perfect (what is perfection anyway?), for the price it's a decent deal and a cute place to hang out and have a little after-dinner gossip session, or end the day on a sweet note... or fuel up before you dance the night away, or... aiya whatever. It's dessert, just say oui.

2/F, 12 Wellington Street (opp. California Fitness)
Hong Kong
+852 2868 3302

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  1. *hint hint* noted! ... haha ... girls and their second stomachs right? haha ... the first time I went it was quite packed with ... all girls as well! ...

    humm ... time to plan my next visit soon :)

  2. hahaha you totally need to go back Jason, the girls are waiting!