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 the restaurant’s interior, which is equally breathtaking. I hope this “pinch me, I’m too lucky” feeling never goes away.
Sometimes a restaurant looks nothing like it does in photos, but aqua really is all glossy glamour – easily the most stunning restaurant I’ve been to on the Dark Side. Whether you’re seated in a booth, by the window or in one of the private rooms, Hong Kong’s magnificence is all around.
The purpose of my visit was to try some dishes from the Italian-Japanese restaurant’s new aquaMarine menu. From now until the end of June, there are six new à-la-carte creations on offer, with all dishes using responsibly harvested sea greens and premium seafood cultivated naturally with minimal environmental impact. Sometimes restaurants with a view serve so-so food, so does aqua’s food match up?
All the aquaMarine dishes were beautifully presented, 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 peri-peri with green plankton and then smoked with dashi. The scallops were expertly smoked, infusing them 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, called kichiji in Japan, which is known for its juicy, meaty texture. Meant to be eaten with an “Indian Ocean” water soup, sake dashi and kombu-marinated tofu, it was a fun experience, educational even, trying the different combinations. The flavour of the kinki was elegant and left a deliciously buttery aftertaste.
We were told Neptune’s Plate ($848) had all five oceans represented in one sashimi dish. There’s bluefin tuna from the Atlantic Ocean, negitoro from the Indian Ocean, oyster from the North Pacific, toothfish from the South Atlantic and salmon from the Arctic Sea. Each selection was fresh and the presentation was gorgeous, but the flavours were a bit underwhelming. This one isn’t worth the ultra-high 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 soup), baby squid, hamaguri (clams) and tiger prawns ($328) for its deep, seafood-infused flavours and juiciness.
The tomato and brandy crab cappelletti with red prawn in crab consommé ($388) was an excellent fusion of Italian and Japanese flavours, but I was disappointed by the portion size, and – I’m lazy – I would have preferred it if the red prawn had been deshelled for us.
Our dinner ended with a massive dessert platter, which was solid, especially the green tea crème brûlée.
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. The prices are definitely on the high side and the portions are on the small side, so I wouldn’t exactly call it good value, but it would 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 the biz.
29/F and 30/F, One Peking, 1 Peking Road, TST, 3427 2288, book online
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.
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