The land meets the sea in this experiment at ON Dining Kitchen & Lounge that didn't go to plan in terms of writing, but made for two very happy lovers of food
Apart from our Photographer/Videographer, we’re a bunch with many dietary restrictions here at Honeycombers Hong Kong. Largely due to sustainability and environmental reasons or general health problems, we are a group of vegetarians, pescatarians, vegans and dairy-free people. So when our meat eating Managing Director comes to town, we make sure to take him to restaurants where everyone can be sated. At ON Dining Kitchen & Lounge by Philippe Orrico in Central, we pitted the game menu against the stunning seafood dishes, to see which would come out on top.
The ultimate in fine dining: ON Dining Kitchen & Lounge
Helmed by Chef Philippe Orrico, ON Dining Kitchen & Lounge is split into two levels, with the relaxed upstairs area serving casual bistro fare and great G&Ts at the bar. Downstairs however, you can dive into Michelin-starred cuisine that captures flavours of both Europe and the Mediterranean.
Orrico – who is also the man behind Upper Modern Bistro – is a Chef who believes in creating a real experience for his guest, and I don’t mean in the Instagram sense of the word. No, you won’t find any smoke-filled reveals here, but what you will always get is exceptional service and thoughtful dishes created with both locally sourced and international ingredients.
For this experiment, Hamish tried the exclusive Game Menu that is being served for winter, while I went for everything seafood. Find out which came out on top.
The Game Side by Hamish McDougall, Managing Director of Honeycombers
One of the joys of a northern winter is sitting by a fire with a glass of Scotch and watching people trudge through the cold outside.
The other is game.
Meaty, foresty, decomposing, gamey game. Game that falls off bones and spills across plates and drains large bottles of red, both in the making and the degustation.
In line with the ‘watching people trudge’ thing, I’m weighing into Philippe Orrico’s special game menu at On Dining joined by a vegetarian/pescatarian, in the hope that the experience of game is even further heightened by watching someone pick through a plate of dried lentils and leftover curd.
The experiment doesn’t go quite as planned, as in place of curd, Sophie is served up wondrous and bisquelike lobstery things that smell fabulous and enviable and threaten to ruin my night of crowing and so forth.
Nevertheless. Dish one is a terrine that gets smothered over brioche and dabbed with chutney. People either adore terrine, or they wrongly think it’s all spam and aspic. Philippe’s venison number is elegant and poised and cut through by the redcurrant chutney.
Dish two is a chestnut soup, and I’m going to try not to use the word “velvety”. It’s everything you want chestnut soup to be – just as it comes on the streets of some tiny French town where all they do is grow chestnuts and occasionally lob them into a cauldron of game stock that’s likely been bubbling away since last winter. But served with white truffle Chantilly and sea urchin toast.
Dish three is an autumnal hare and tagliatelle, with Stilton sauce and chanterelles and one imagines half a bottle of sherry or some such. It’s the kind of plate that gets you excited about many more plates to come, about shaking out your overcoats and diving back into your Burgundies (pinot, that is, the joys of burgundy outerwear notwithstanding).
It’s followed by a hare à la royale – ballotined, studded with foie gras and enveloped in a blood sauce that is probably not for the faint hearted, but for the stout hearted and life affirming it has a richness that could fortify you through whole months of winter at a time. It’s everything game should be – both a celebration and defiance of that first chilling bite of winter.
The Sea Side, by Sophie Cullen, Editor of Honeycombers Hong Kong
I think it needs to be pointed out that Hamish once said to me: “Occasionally, I’ll have a vegetarian meal. You know, some good quality sardines or something.” He’s a real meat eater – who will be referred to as Old Meaty for the rest of this story – and I knew he would be the perfect companion for Orrico’s feast. (Despite using words like “velvety”, where I would just say, “yum!”)
Re. the food… Firstly, I think it’s important to give a shout out to our marvellous waiter Peter, who was so on point throughout the entire meal. He gave us just enough info to put the dishes in context without over explaining and letting the food cool. His humour and excitement for each offering was contagious, and it wasn’t just because we were media – Peter is just a really enthusiastic person who is great at his job – how refreshing in Hong Kong.
My meal was epic, and more than once did I catch Old Meaty on the other side of the table throwing a jealous look towards my plate; eyes off, Old Meaty!
I started with a delightfully decadent Mediterranean Red Tuna Tartare topped with Ossetra Caviar before moving on to Homemade Cavatelli (eggless semolina pasta) with Seafood Ragout and Sea Urchins. This dish blew me away, as, honestly, I’ve never eaten anything similar before. It was warm, it was comforting, it was the kind of dish I would like to go home to after a rough day at sea on a fishing vessel.
The Wild Sea Bass with artichokes, tomatoes, mussels, cucumber and sago was another star performer, served with a gorgeous Chablis 1er Cru Mont de Milieu Sebastien Christophe which balanced florals and minerals perfectly, making me a happy person.
Finally both Old Meaty and I tucked into a cheese platter for champions. Honestly, they picked for us and I loved every one, but by then I was too full to remember the names or types. Sorry.
So who won? Well, I think we were all winners on the day actually. Bit of a cop out result, but the meal was just that good.
What a thrill it is to have chefs like Philippe Orrico delivering real international quality dishes to the people of Hong Kong. It’s the ideal spot for everyone; game or not.
On Dining Kitchen & Lounge (CLOSED), 29/F, 18 On Lan Street, Central, Hong Kong, p. 2174 8100, 中環安蘭街18號28-29樓 The game menu will be served until the end of December 2017