The Peninsula Hotel, Salisbury Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong, China

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Felix has a spectacular Philippe Starck-designed dining room on the 28th floor of The Peninsula hotel in Kowloon. Giant picture windows give a lovely view over Hong Kong harbour, and the room is cavernous, with a slightly raised area on one side with a bar, and a further bar up some stairs near the entrance. The chef is American Ashton Hall, a very engaging young man who originally hails from Colorado. 

Bread is made on the premises and is a choice of baguette, a thin and crisp pesto and Parmesan bread and an oddity, a cherry and chocolate bread; very pleasant, but why this was in the savoury breads eludes me – it would be interesting for breakfast or possibly with cheese. The wine list is well put together and fairly short, with twice as many red wines as white. The prices reflect the view, with a glass of house champagne at HK$180 a glass. Also the white wine was served in a wholly inappropriate glass with an open rim; wine glasses need to have a tulip shape, as in the ISO standard wine glass, to capture the bouquet of the wine. It is surprising how much difference the wine glass shape can make, and this was a sign of somewhere without a serious sommelier, though they changed the glass amicably enough. Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir was listed at HK$ 180 for a wine that costs about HK$ 65 retail. The very fine Ata Rangi Pinot Noir 2006 was a hefty HK$ 980 for a wine that you can buy locally for about HK$ 155, while Shafer Chardonnay 2006 was HK$ 1,150 for a wine you can get hold of for about HK$ 310 in the shops. A bottle of water was a ludicrous HK$ 980.

I started with a “sunchoke” (Jerusalem artichoke) and lobster soup with Meyer lemon and capers (HK$ 140). The soup itself had good flavour, with quite thick texture, garnished with a little lobster and black truffle (a strong 15/20). Dungeness crab (HK$ 230) was served as a crab cake, and also in a shaped cylinder of white crab meat atop an avocado puree, with a trip of pieces of pineapple with jalapeno chilli, and a pineapple sauce. The crab and avocado is an excellent combination and this worked well, while the crab cake was pleasantly made, but I found the pineapple too much. The pineapple with jalapeno in itself would perhaps just about have been OK, but the pineapple sauce as well rather overwhelmed the crab, which is inherently quite a delicate flavour (14/20). 

Pan-fried sea bass with a prawn “pillow”, scallion and champagne had tasty sea bass, correctly timed, with a sauce that was light and complimentary to the fish, the prawn dumpling light and well made (15/20). Roast pork tenderloin (HK$ 320) was attractively presented in three pieces, with red cabbage, beans and cooking juices flavoured with rosemary and brown sugar. The pork itself had excellent taste, but I did not understand the idea of a sweetened sauce with pork, which is in itself a slightly sweet meat. The red cabbage could have provided an acidic counter-balance if it had been made with more vinegar, but it was not, so the dish was just unbalanced, a shame as the pork in itself was genuinely good (15/20, and I would have scored a couple of points higher without the balance issue). I could have done with a little more seasoning in the savoury dishes, though the chef told me that the locals dislike too much salt in particular, which is fair enough.  

Dessert was cherry, yuzu and dark chocolate cake, which was pretty but surprisingly lacking in chocolate taste (12/20). Also, who thought it was a bright idea to garnish a chocolate with pea shoots? Praline with Mascarpone and honeycomb was better, but felt like one flavour too many (14/20). The bill per person was HK$ 1241.

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