1963 ushered in the independence of Kenya and the conspicuously British restaurant, The Chinnery, on the 1st floor of the Mandarin Oriental hotel. A good year all round.
The Chinnery is an institution in Hong Kong of British food, but the unexpected triumph of this cosy dining pasture is the lick of Indian spices that show up in the curry options. As distinct lovers of the dish, and with a couple of writers ethnically rooted in the nation, we often lament the distinct lack of good curry houses in Hong Kong. The love that we fell into with the chicken tikka makhani was unexpected and fast, a romance that crept up on us much like the entry into last winter. What made us even more delighted was the discovery of the tiers of this magic menu item at the Captain's Bar, which is just down the way on the ground floor, and who have just started serving their very own craft beer. The mind boggles....
More millionaire than slumdog, The Chinnery's surrounds are peaceful but upbeat, combining Mandarin standard service with familiar and jovial decor. A lunch here will set you back between $250 to $300 depending on the protein selected, with side of buttered or garlic naan a tidy $78. It won't be cheap, which can often be the pull of Indian food, but the flavours are big and the dining scene measured, and the quality of curries in this venue are more than enough to justify the cost.
The dishes burst with flavour, but don't leave a sickly feeling in the gut as many butter based curries can, and the meat is fork tender every time. Perfectly cooked basmati rice, saffron infused, wafts alluringly from the bronze kadai. The flair of the spices coupled with higher-than-usual quality of ingredients has meant for a winning combination for this hotel restaurant. We suggest this is some of the better Indian food in town.
MADRAS: Cod, mustard seeds, coconut and curry leaves ($278)
VEGETABLE MASALA: Mixed vegetables cooked in onion and tomato sauce and spices ($228)
TIKKA: Chicken pieces cooked with tomato, butter, yoghurt and aromatic spices, basmati rice ($258)
ROGAN JOSH: Lamb shoulder, braised with basmati rice and spices ($278)
TANDOORI: Sizzling organic chicken leg with yoghurt, spices and pickles ($258)
PRAWN CURRY: Tomato gravy, fenugreek and aromatic spices ($298)
1/F Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, 5 Connaught Road, Central