Thursday, 1 September 2011

On Top of Hong Kong

A view overlooking Tsim Sha Tsui and Hong Kong Island

Going back of house in a hotel is a really cool experience -- even more so when you're over 100 floors up.

The ships going in and out of Victoria Harbour
Anita, a good friend of mine visiting from the United States and I went to visit Peter who is the executive chef at the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong which opened in March in the ICC building, the tallest in the city.

We first toured all the food and beverage outlets, Tin Lung Heen, the Chinese restaurant, Tosca with its open kitchen, the bar with large white and red chandeliers on the same floor and also the Chocolate Library above. The Chocolate Library has some creative desserts there, as well as packaging where you can buy a box of chocolates placed in a box that looks like a book.

A place setting with an old picture of Hong Kong
We also went up to Ozone, the highest bar in the world where the balcony is enclosed except for the roof so people can smoke outside on the 118th floor. During the day it has a relaxed atmosphere, but in the evening it looks completely different and reminds me of the scene in Star Wars where Han Solo and Chewbacca go into a bar to acquire a space ship.

Obviously there are some amazing harbour views up there and we visited on a clear day. During the fireworks Peter said you actually look down on them instead of up -- something I hope to try soon. He also pointed out that while we know there are lots of ships that go through the harbour, from up above you can see there is actually heavy traffic in the water.

Afternoon tea sets ready to be served
The private rooms have beautiful table settings including plates that have pictures of old Hong Kong which is different. Each private room we went into was more impressive than the last.

There is also a chef's table, another private room that seats eight or 10 and Peter will personally prepare dishes for VIP guests at a mini kitchen in front of the table. Most of the dishes will have already been prepared elsewhere but are finished in the room for a personal touch. But on the day we went, Sunday, the room was filled with tempting desserts put together for afternoon tea, as there was no other place to store them. We later found out how little refrigerator space there is for the entire hotel.

It is obviously more designed for the guests than the staff as some areas like the cold kitchen just had enough room for two of three people maximum. There were also many doors to go through for fire safety regulations. With a vertical hotel it also meant going up and down several floors in elevators not to mention ferrying food up and down too.

Freshly made dongpo pork that was braised for a long time
We also visited the Chinese kitchen where they were preparing stocks and we watched one chef heat up his wok on the open fire. "That's what wok-hay is," Anita remarked. She said she tried to explain this to her friends in the US where you know Cantonese food is good when the wok is hot enough. We also saw a large slab of dongpo pork, or braised pork belly just finished cooking and we got to have a small slice of it to try -- practically melt-in-the-mouth good.

Apparently singer Coco Lee will be celebrating her wedding nuptials to Bruce Rockowitz at the Ritz-Carlton and we checked out the ballroom which has lots of mirrors and crystal chandeliers which would be a challenge to clean. We can only imagine how lavish the banquet will be in such a striking hotel.

The crystal chandeliers in the ballroom
We thoroughly enjoyed our visit and now I have a greater appreciation for chefs not only standing all day in the kitchen but also working in challenging environments so that others can enjoy your food.

Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong
International Commerce Centre
1 Austin Road West
2263 2265

1 comment:

  1. wow-what an eye opener. extravagant, may be dubai can match it? out of this world.