If one has to chose one thing to do in Hong Kong, visiting Felix at The Peninsula Hotel is surely a good choice.
By Alec Torelli
If one has to chose one thing to do in Hong Kong, to wander the Peninsula Hotel is surely a good choice. It’s the designer equivalent to window shopping at Hermes: one does not need to buy to enjoy. White gloves swivel open the two doors to their grand entrance.
“Welcome Sir,” the bellman smiles. The live music welcomes me to the lobby, played by a five piece orchestra from a terrace above. Past the corridor (and ironically, past Hermes as well), an employee holds the elevator for me. A button lights up next to a gold, inscribed plate. “Felix“.
On the ride up, while I marvel at the hand crafted ocean waves of brown on the walls, my ears pop.
The elevator stops, lights dim and the door opens, my cue to exit. Before I even see my table, I know I’m about to be blown away.
“Take a seat in the waiting room“, the maitre says. I’ll have a table ready for you in a minute.” I enter a circular dome and feel like I’m catapulted 100 years into the future. This feeling increases when I ask for the restroom and I am led to a room with glass walls that give the illusion one can dominate over all of Hong Kong, an experience so unique, that the hotel bathroom has become a hidden tourist attraction.
The ambiance at Felix, infamously designed by the legendary Phillipe Starck, is one of the most decadent in the world. I’m seated in the top section, next to the bar.
The waiter hands me the menu, an IPad with the built in wine list, detailed descriptions with pictures and the carte du jour.
For the undecided few (myself included), it also includes the house version of spin the bottle. A digital screen appears. I touch the wine bottle icon and it swirls around a color wheel. Depending on what color it lands on, a selection of wines are chosen for you.
When I spin it, it lands on white and a list of pithy chardonnay’s are offered. I’m not in the mood so I tempt fate and walk to the bar.
“Make me something special.” The bartender nods without a word and whips up a cocktail: pina colada with hazelnut, topped with caramelized Frangelico and Malibu whipped cream. I take a swirl of the dazzling froth. It’s fresh and sweet and the alcohol doesn’t cover the mixture of flavors.
After much deliberation, I decide against the signature menu. I want to explore on my own. I start with a mixture of appetizers.
First, a marinated tasmanian salmon with guacamole, coconut-olive oil powder, horseradish cream and frozen cooked egg yolk. I’m speechless.
The salmon poke is exactly as it should be, soft and sweet. The avocado puree provides a comfortable bed for the fish. The horseradish is fluffy like lather. How did they manage to create that consistency?
It’s not until I combine all three flavors that I realize the utter brilliance of this dish. Sweet, tangy and spicy. Alone they are forgotten, together they harmonize to create an entirely new experience, like hydrogen and oxygen create water. Extraordinary.
The second starter is equally good, a tuna and Australian oyster, soy mayonaise, cucumber gazpacho mousse and dice vegetable salad. The cucumber foam is light and refreshing, the consistency you would find shaking a soda can. Balls of treasured tuna are underneath when I dig inside. The oysters are amazingly fresh, salty but not too slimy and tamed by the tomatoes. I tease my taste buds, bouncing back and forth between tuna and oyster; sweet and salty.
My main course arrives next: Australian lamb with garlic cream croquette, fried potatoes, dandelion and walnut salad served steaming hot. The waiter drizzles the dish with a little aju sauce. Three land mines, a fried mini potato ball stuffed with cheese atop a mashed potato base, each one a bite of heaven. When I poke them, the liquid lava oozes out. Bliss. The lamb is sensational: impressively tender and soft. A thin layer of fatty crust adds flavor to this mouthwatering entree. Three for three.
It’s not the fact that the food is excellent that makes Felix a great restaurant. It’s the pre meditated creativity that is put into each and every dish; the risks the chef takes to test the limits of modern cuisine showcasing his brilliance.
When it’s time for dessert, a Bitter Chocolate Parfait comes topped with sea salt caramel ice cream and pillars of white and dark chocolate. It’s so cold, it’s emitting
steam from its base. I bite into one of the towers and my mouth tingles. Pop rocks! The slightly burnt ice cream and the firmer parfait add variety to the textures. Crunch, melt, bite, pop. Bravo.
Eventually, to contrast the chocolate decadence, I opt for a sugar rush. The Mascarpone and Strawberry Mousse with more popping candies, chocolate cookies and strawberry ice cream is the perfect complement. Layered between the mascarpone and the ice cream is a berry jelly spread, topped with a rich jam, that makes this dish a necessity for every strawberry lover. The freezing sorbet adds ease and well contrasts the cookie crunchiness. Electrifying.
When I’m finished, I head up the spiral staircase to the bar where people from all over the world are mingling together. I stand on the counter and pause for a few moments to marvel at Victoria Harbour. The light show is one of the sights of Hong Kong one should never miss.
Felix at The Peninsula
Salisbury Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong
+852 2315 3188
It all started when he was 10. He was distraught about moving, but the man next door welcomed him with a huge styrofoam box of ice cream. Fourteen years later, he moved to Italy and fell in love with gelato, which inspired his first writings about food. Since then, his passion for culinary art has done nothing but grow. On a mission to find the world's best gelato, he travels, eats and writes for Still Served Warm.