Restaurant review: New specials at aqua, Hong Kong
TST’s crown jewel has some new Insta-worthy (and sustainably harvested) seafood specials
It’s been nearly four years since I touched down in Hong Kong and the skyline still gets me every time. Just look at this view from aqua… and from the restaurant’s surroundings that are equally breathtaking. I hope this ‘pinch me, I’m too lucky’ feeling never goes away. Sometimes a restaurant looks nothing like its photos, but aqua really is all glossy glamour; easily the most stunning restaurant I’ve been to on the ‘dark side’. Whether you’re in a both, by the window, or in one of the private rooms, Hong Kong’s magnificence is all around. No wonder it was once listed as one of Conde Nast Traveler’s ‘Hottest 100 Tables’ in the world.
The purpose of my visit was to try dishes from the Italian x Japanese restaurant’s new aquaMarine menu. From now until end-June, there are six new a la carte creations on offer, with all dishes using responsibly harvested sea greens and premium seafood naturally cultivated with minimal environmental impact. Sometimes restaurants with a view serve so-so food… did aqua’s food match up?
All of the aquaMarine dishes were presented beautifully but I think my favourites had the simplest execution. I recommend the Setouchi Sea Breeze ($298) where fat, fresh Hokkaido scallops are marinated for 36 hours in piri piri with green plankton and then smoked with dashi. The scallops were expertly smoked infusing the scallops with flavour while allowing their natural sweetness and texture to shine.
Another dish that impressed was the Hokkaido Bay ($388). It was my first time trying kinki fish, also known as kichiji in Japan, which is known for its juicy, meaty texture. Meant to be eaten with an ‘Indian Ocean’ water soup, a sake dashi, and kombu-marinated tofu, it was a fun experience, educational even, trying the different combinations. The flavour was elegant and left a deliciously buttery aftertaste.
We were told Neptune’s Plate ($848) had all five oceans represented in one dish. There’s blue fin tuna from the Atlantic Ocean, negitoro from the Indian Ocean, oysters from the North Pacific Ocean, toothfish from the Southern Atlantic Ocean and salmon from the Arctic Sea. Each selection was fresh and the presentation is gorgeous but the flavours were a bit underwhelming. Not sure this one is worth the price tag.
In addition to the new dishes, we sampled some of aqua’s signatures. I really enjoyed the Japanese Barley and Seafood Risotto with Ojiya rice, baby squid, hamaguri clams and tiger prawns ($328) as it had a deep seafood-infused flavour and was very saucy.
The Tomato and Brandy Crab Cappelletti with red prawn in crab consomme ($388) was an excellent fusion of Italian and Japanese flavours. I was disappointed at the portion size though and, I'm lazy, I would have preferred if our red prawn had been de-shelled for us.
Our group ended with a massive dessert platter which was solid, especially the green tea creme brulee.
The thing about aqua is that it’s a very stylish place. Everything from the views to the food is polished and a bit of a show. Prices are definitely on the high side with portions on the small side, so I wouldn’t exactly call it good value but it may be worth the splurge on those nights you want to glam up, hit the town, and elevate reality for a few hours. Kudos to aqua for working to remain inventive after nearly 20 years in operation.
One Peking, 29, Peking Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, 3427 2288
*By invitation for Foodie