Hong Kong is renowned for world-class dining, and on my recent trip with Cathay Pacific, we sampled an abundance of incredible flavours from basic street fare to expat fav, Ho Lee Fook. But it was my evening at Felix Restaurant Hong Kong, perched atop the Peninsula Hotel that dazzled me. It’s not often I’m hosted for Michelin hatted meals, in incredible cities, with two of my closest friends, which made the experience all the more memorable.
We pile into a cab at Sai Ying Pun and begrudgingly inform the driver of our address in Kowloon. He’s not impressed, and nor are we once we realise the error of our ways, stupidly opting for a taxi over the scenic ferry ride. Our first stop for the evening, courtesy of our resident Hong Kong contributor Randy Lai, is Bar Butler, a Japanese-inspired cocktail bar regarded as one of Hong Kong’s best. The barman is pleased to see us and points us to one of the only two tables in the 20 seat room that Randy has kindly booked.
Menus are handed out, and I opt for Butler’s signature Manhattan. Rob also chooses wisely, Nic, not so much. After twenty minutes of whining about alcohol withdrawals, our drinks finally arrive. There’s a beautiful ceremony to everyone’s drinks expect Nic’s. Rosewater is sprayed gracefully onto the rim of my glass from a vintage perfume bottle while Rob swirls his Crystal Old Fashioned glass admiring the hand carved ice ball we’ve just watched the barman agonise over. Nic has a feminine looking drink he’s not enamoured with. Our cocktails are incredible, and the follow-up Kilchoman fires us up for dinner. We bid our farewells and head to The Peninsula.
As you’d expect, the Jewel of the Penisula Crown has an exceedingly grand foyer. After some confusion, we find our way to the Felix lift and press the button for Level 28. The boys ask me what they should expect, but I’ve got no idea. I never do.
Felix is an experimental space designed by Frenchman Philippe Starck. It’s over a decade old, but it could have been built yesterday. The manager David wanders over to introduce himself and gives us a rundown of options for the evening. Japanese-born Chef Yoshiharu Kaji has just launched his innovative new tasting menu, and we’ll be among the first to sample it. It seems like a wise choice.
Unfortunately, it’s not the food I’m worried about; it’s the drinks. There’s always a horrible uncertainty about drinks when being hosted – the group is noticeably tense as we dip warm bread into a selection of olive and anchovy paste. After David outlines how many beverages we’re entitled to, thus kicking the experience off with a rather dull vibe, the chaps happily agree to cover the drinks bill. David asks if we’d like to start with Champagne and we exchange bemused looks, then he disappears.
Unfortunately, the conversation about our limited drink offering results in the three of us spitballing about what variety of house sparkling David would return with. Then he reappears, bottle in hand and Nic looks at me and nods. He says nothing, but I know what he’s thinking, it’s going to be a good night.
Ruinart Rose fills our flutes and the first of seven courses lands on the table. A small black box cupping a wonderfully delicate prawn tartar, speckled in caviar and accompanied by a deep fried prawn head pairs exquisitely with the Ruinart. It’s nothing short of sensational.
Course two is simply titled ‘Green Apple.’ Grilled fois grois and duck liver mousse melt in my mouth while a ginger and lemon crumble offer a touch of texture and crunch to offset the richness. A green apple compote and sorbet balance the palate, and I’m lost for words. It might be the nicest combination of flavours I’ve ever put in my mouth. The boys are laughing in astonishment, sipping Champagne. We’ve stepped into the Chef Kaji’s theatre of dreams.
Rob isn’t impressed with the presentation of the Pan-seared Rock Fish as he dives in with the Alessi cutlery. Nic can’t believe what he’s hearing as we joke about Chef Kaji walking out to sign a Sorry card to account for Rob’s dissatisfaction. The sauce is creamy but not rich, and the squid dumpling is intriguing. The Rockfish and the tomato ginger emulsion are the Starsky and Hutch of combinations, but I wonder if there’s too much going on.
Our fourth dish arrives, and somehow there’s still Champagne being poured into our glasses. We request the cellar list for a quick peruse. Of course, it’s the who’s who of First Growth Bordeaux, with prices blowing out to US$120k for a single bottle – bonkers. Somehow the French pigeon averts our attention from the wine. A Japanese style sauce made with a beef broth covers a twice cooked leg of pigeon with crispy skin burnt off in Brandy. A black quinoa mask (literally shaped like a baby’s face) breaks into the mashed potato and slides onto my fork with the bird. Surely pigeon doesn’t get any better than this. I see Nic look around the room, and sheepishly pick up the bone and pop it into his mouth. I follow suit.
I excuse myself, in need of quick moment alone to appreciate what I’ve just eaten. I find myself en route to the bathroom and once inside blown away again, relieving myself in front of another floor to ceiling window with a view down onto Kowloon and New Territories beyond. Our fifth dish arrives when I return, and we still haven’t sorted the wine situation. It’s a Japanese Striploin, and Braised Beef Shortrib drenched in a Beef Consume infused with Tarragon. The broth is more interesting than the meat, and it’s not until my very last bite do I get a piece thick enough to marvel at the flavour.
The dessert is the weakest of the evening, and we’ve given up on ordering wine. The ‘Felix Wall’ is a white chocolate mousse with a Verbena Sorbet and Whisky Chocolate Ganache. The Macadamias appear to be an afterthought, but interestingly they’re the saving grace. We’re keen to get back to the Island to continue drinking so wrap up the Petits Fours quickly, but not before sampling a stunning Lavender chocolate.
A meal at Felix Restaurant Hong Kong is one you’ll never forget. You don’t eat at many of them in your life, but there’s no denying Felix is on that list. We had an extraordinary meal at Felix, coupled with a magnificent view of the Island, hosted by a manager passionate about Chef Kaji’s innovative style and the dining experience on offer.
Prices start from HK$1,188 (AUD$199) for a five-course set menu, but Felix also offers an early dining (6-8pm) three-course menu for HKD$468 (AUD$78) which has got to be one of the best deals in the city. Naturally, it’s the wine that will leave you gasping for breath, but that’s to be expected at this level.
Apologies for the images, it was literally pitch black in the restaurant!