Thursday, August 11, 2011

Caprice - 3rd time in 3 years, now with 3 Michelin Stars

I can't believe it's been 3 years since I blogged about what is one of Hong Kong's most lauded restaurants, Caprice.

Well, maybe I can because the first time was a bit of a flop, and the second so average I failed to remember much (or maybe it was the wine, ahem). But - I must admit that I didn't have cheese either of those first two times, which was a huge boo-boo seeing they have their own cave and all but alas, birthday cakes reigned. Caprice is a restaurant for occasions, n'est-ce pas?

This time was actually no different, it was also a birthday, that of my dear friend's father. (Thank you uncle!) But this time I HAD CHEESE.

It seems weird to start describing a meal from the end, but then again, it was one of the highlights. So here you are, the obligatory cheese cart photo.

Mmmm...  oui... 'ello mes chers...

And my selection:

The server said all the names at least twice to me, but I could never catch them so... Starting from the left, clockwise: soft goat's milk cheese, Mimolette, Comte, a softish blue. I can't say much else except that all were delicious and a real highlight. The cheese course is no afterthought (ahem Riquiqui), but then again, a cheese platter at Caprice probably costs more than a multi-course dessert at Riquiqui. Anyway.

Amuse bouche: tomato sorbet inside a tomato, with basil coulis and mozzarella cream
So, to the rest of the meal, from now on in chronological order! A mini brain-freeze in the form of tomato sorbet. Perhaps it should have come with a warning, "do not put entire contents in mouth all at once". Well, perhaps my life should come with that warning. Due to the freeze I wasn't able to taste much, but it was certainly refreshing and woke more than my palate.

Shellfish consomme
Perhaps due to my love for Cantonese soups, I love consommes. I find it really fascinating that there is so much depth and richness of flavour in such a clear, delicate liquid - this didn't disappoint. It had the sweetness of shellfish as well as the gratifying savoury pang that you'd expect from a consomme. The diced fennel was a nice spice/herbaceous touch. I hadn't had fennel in a while too.

Carabineros in a spring roll and carpaccio
This came with the consomme. I apologise that I've already forgotten what type of fish the carparccio was. Can't say I appreciated the oil sheen on the spring rolls very much, and I think wrapping and deep frying them didn't really let the prawns shine.

Australian black truffle scrambled egg with truffle toast
The scrambled eggs were devoid of anything tasting truffle-like. Well, apart from a lot of earthiness, which you can also get from some mushrooms (truffles are technically fungi/"mushrooms" too but they're not your everyday buttons, if you get what I mean).  The toast was better (a couple of shaved of pure unadulterated truffle with a bit of salt) - but this truffle was earthy - maybe too earthy. It doesn't deliver the transcendence one is looking for when one orders truffle.

Bresse chicken
We ordered the Bresse chicken for two, which actually came in two courses (we didn't know this when we ordered!) the breast and the leg.

First up was the breast - they carved it tableside.

The breast of the Bresse chicken. The juiciest, most tender chicken breast I've had in a long time. Remember all that chicken talk ("if you know of a big fleshy chicken absolutely packed with flavour, we need to talk")? Well, folks, voila.

I also really liked the presentation of the veggies, so bright and perky, with a slight farmhouse feel - a refined sort of rustic, I suppose. The cheery tomatoes were amazingly rich, like a natural ketchup. I stole the rest off my friend's plate. (Manners? Say what?)

Thigh of the Bresse chicken, served on salad. The plate was really warm, so the salad kind of wilted and went warm too, and the skin wasn't crispy anymore. For once I liked the breast better. This wasn't bad, but it was the breast that really stood out. Our guess was that they roast the chicken so that the breast is just done, meaning the other parts, like the thigh, would be undercooked. They'd serve the perfectly cooked breast, then take the rest of the chook away and cook the thighs a bit more till they're done too.

Dessert - presented in a very Mandarin Grill way. with "soils", intense greens etc. Pretty darned delish, love the addition of fresh fruit, in the form of awesome white peaches. The quenelles of sorbet, cream etc. gave a good amount of moisture to the pistachio sponge cake "base". It was all quite refreshingly sweet rather than the cloying kind (which can also be good!) but to round up an epic meal like this, the subtlety and lightness was very welcome. This felt well balanced on every front.

Cavaillon melon sorbet with lemon jelly and lemon biscuit
Cleanser - wasn't explained to us :( At the base was jelly so sour it would but sour gummy bears and their cousins to shame. If you didn't have it along with everything else, you're bound to cringe, but it certainly didn't taste bad. With a bit of everything else, it made for a nice spark.

Petit Fours
What happened to the macarons?! This was actually a little disappointing... I was stuffed by then, so I guess at least they screamed, "Don't eat me!" instead of the usual, "Your tummy doesn't need me but your mind is saying yes!".

I kind of keep forgetting that Caprice was awarded 3 Michelin stars (if I remember correctly, they started off with 2 the first year Michelin came to HK and were promoted to 3 the next year). I forget because the Michelin Guide to Hong Kong is, to me, rather bizarre and not really a reference I'd use for my dining decisions. Anyway, this was a pretty good meal, if not a little hurriedly paced, possibly because of all the different course configurations - some had chef's menu, some a la carte, and some dual-course a la cartes (Bresse chicken). There were a few letdowns - the Aussie truffle, spring roll and the petit fours, but the chicken breast alone is enough incentive for me to come back. I never thought I'd ever enjoy a chicken breast so much. And duh, of course I enjoyed the cheese. The one dessert I tried was well-made too.

It had been a while since I'd been to Caprice and this was the best meal I'd had there. Is it a 3 Michelin star experience? I don't know, but I'm glad I came.

Four Seasons Hong Kong
Hong Kong
+852 3196 8888

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1 comment:

  1. Salut Janice! The cheese tray is huge! I would not know which one to I would like to try all of them. In fact I would not mind starting a meal with cheese. At first I thought that you did just that! I have never been (yet) to Caprice and wish one day I will go.
    I enjoyed reading your Post.