Jordi Roca In Hong Kong
Last night we brought forward a special occasion to enjoy a night at the Mandarin Grill with Jordi Roca, from El Celler De Can Roca in Spain (awarded three Michelin stars and by one ranking considered the 5th best restaurant in the world). Sr Roca was in town for a few days with the Mandarin […]
Last night we brought forward a special occasion to enjoy a night at the Mandarin Grill with Jordi Roca, from El Celler De Can Roca in Spain (awarded three Michelin stars and by one ranking considered the 5th best restaurant in the world). Sr Roca was in town for a few days with the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and it was a delight to enjoy the six-course special tasting menu, with carefully selected wines for each dish.
Cava Interpretation was the first course; two oysters with apple, mango, ginger and spices (including cinnamon and mace) served not on the half shell, but on the half bottle (a small wine bottle cut in half lengthwise). Cava (a Spanish white sparkling wine) was poured over the oysters at the table and turned into a fresh gelatinous confection before our eyes. Served with Cava Kripta, Gran Reserva, Agusti Torello 2004 this was everything a good oyster dish should be – fresh, comforting and reminiscent of an afternoon sea breeze.
Squid Parmentier was a cake of potato fried in paprka around a solid ball of mashed potato, surrounded by lightly cooked baby squid and covered with a foam of seafood sauce. Fried seafood and potato is such an established combination in many cultures and this was a fresh, satisfying and very Spanish reinterpretation. The dish shone when accompanied by the delightly round fragrant Rias Baixas Albariño Pazo de Señorans 2007.
Medditerraneo was grilled sole with five sauces. The sole was panfried, but presented folded over on a long plate, served with the fillet extending away from you. Alongside the fish were five sauces, based on dill, bergamot, orange, pine nut and olive. The colour of each sauce represented the colours of the ocean at different times of the day. Sadly the fish was a touch on the dry side (for both this and the following dish our plates were alarmingly hot). However, the overall effect of working one’s way through the sauces was delightful and deeply romantic. I’m more than tired of the dry and one-dimensional fashion in Sauvingon Blanc these days, so it was a joy to taste the accompanying Miguel Torres Fransola 2008; a welcome reminder of what a satisfyingly genial accompaniment this grape can be for seafood.
Iberico was, as the name might imply a pork dish; crispy piglet (cooked for 12 hours). Sadly the dish was a little dry (ultra hot plates again), but the intensity and roundness of the flavours was stunning. The Ribera del Duero 2003 was an interesting pairing for this dish, with enough cut to bring out the saltiness of the pork, but with only a small selection of vegetables alongside the dish, was slightly lost.
Terre De Hermes was an insight into the kind of dessert that has made Jordi Roca famous. A study in fragrance and memory this dish paired oranges and chocolate (one of my favourite combinations). The chocolate was no ordinary fair, but earthy and minerally dark goodness that allowed its saltiness to shine through (too much chocolate in Hong Kong is one dimensionally sweet and milky). The 1969 Maury Mas Amiel Rousillon was an ambitious pairing that worked really well. I could have happily ended the meal there.
White was, however, a cheeky delight of a final dish. Warm sheep’s milk ice-cream, topped with candied guava and white candied fairy floss. It was a mischievous way to end the meal but it brought a smile to our faces, especially as it was boldly paired with a Emilio Lustau Moscatel Reserve.
One problem for guest chefs is they have to work in a room that does not always suit their food. The Mandarin Grill is a warm and quiet space, but this style of food begs for a more contemporary and modern setting. The staff mostly managed dishes well and our main waiter was well informed about each dish and very helpful. But the sommeliers were missing in action for most of the night and our poor dry pork did sit around for quite a while waiting for it’s companion wine to be walked from the other side of the restaurant.
But, on balance, the evening was a real delight and Sr Roca made a welcome stop at our table to talk a little and share some of the philosophy behind the dishes. This was unapologetically Spanish – really Catalan – food and made me wish we had a top flight restaurant here in Hong Kong that served this kind of fare every night.