Seven reasons to eat at Amber, The Landmark Mandarin Oriental

Food writer and editor, Charmaine Mok, discovers why Amber should be on everyone’s must-visit list

Charmaine Mok is editorial director of food and wine at Edipresse Media Asia, publishers of Hong Kong Tatler.

In a city known for its waxing and waning trends and unrelenting parade of restaurant openings and closures, in the heart of Hong Kong’s business district is a culinary stalwart that has stood the test of time. For more than 12 years, Amber has been the pearl of The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, serving boundary-pushing modern European cuisine to a diverse clientele that range from the city’s tycoons to camera-toting millennial gastronauts. It was recently crowned the best restaurant in China on the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list, but here are seven reasons why you should be making a reservation at Amber ahead of your next trip to Hong Kong.

Richard Ekkebus is the chef of chefs
Culinary director Richard Ekkebus is an iconic figure on the Hong Kong dining scene, having helmed Amber from day one when the hotel opened in 2005. In addition to overseeing the steady evolution of the restaurant, the Dutch native was instrumental in developing the Friends Of Amber series, which sees leading chefs from around the world – from Virgilio Martinez of Peru’s Central Restaurante to Corey Lee of San Francisco’s Benu – coming to Amber to present their culinary points of view to a new audience. Ekkebus is a chef who not only strives to create the best possible meal for his guests, but enjoys creating multiple opportunities for diners to experience the work of his equals within the context of Amber.

Provenance is paramount
Amber’s culinary DNA is rooted in modern European technique with French sensibilities, but its pantry often uses the highest quality ingredients sourced from one of Hong Kong’s closest neighbours: Japan. Ekkebus is a proponent of sustainable ingredients and has travelled extensively to locations such as Fukuoka and Miyazaki to source responsible ingredients such as line-caught Spanish mackerel, organic hyuganatsu citrus and rope-grown ebisu oysters.

A unique crossroads
The menu is heavily product driven, and as a result the dishes make the most of each season and the ingredients that are available between the northern and southern hemispheres. Amber's location in Hong Kong means that the team can take advantage of a multiplicity of fine ingredients that are flown in each day. Fresh truffles are sourced from the French town of Périgord in the winter, then Tasmania in the summer months.

A masterclass in creativity
Award-winning pastry chef Michael Pretet’s intuition for flavour combinations and unconventional ways of combining textures in his desserts, has given rise to dishes such as blood orange sorbet paired with heirloom carrot confit, or Hokkaido corn cake with black truffle and warm custard salted caramel popcorn. Pretet’s sweets menu is divided into seasonal specials and chocolate desserts; in the latter, the Abinao 85 per cent chocolate souffle with cacao sorbet is well worth the 20-minute wait.

The wine list doesn't play it safe
Head Sommelier John Chan is a mischievous oenophile who has placed greater emphasis on creative wine pairings, intriguing biodynamic labels and enabling guests to discover unchartered territory when it comes to their wine choices. With 1,100 unique labels available on the master wine list, there is plenty to explore – and considering Chan’s thirst for nudging diners to slightly left-of-field tipples, you’ll most likely come away having expanded your wine horizons.

Zero waste priority
Since the hotel implemented its Green Purchasing Policy in 2016, massive steps have been taken towards reducing the amount of single-use plastic straws and bottles and other waste throughout the premises; in addition, Ekkebus has made a commitment to moving the kitchen towards producing zero waste. Currently, the venue filters its own water using the Nordaq FRESH system, which is served in reusable glass bottles throughout the hotel.

The next challenge
The search for the new classics is always at the front of Ekkebus’ mind and, as such, he’s not afraid to cut out signature dishes from the menu – such as his famed duck foie gras lollipops (2005-2016) – in order to make room for new innovations. In addition, Amber already has a vegetarian degustation and is moving towards placing vegetables in the spotlight.

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A chic five-star retreat in the heart of Hong Kong’s business and fashion districts, The Landmark Mandarin Oriental is one of the most exclusive luxury hotels in the world.