I was pretty disappointed by the Michelin restaurants we tried in Japan. Not that they were bad, just not what I had hoped. I felt similarly with the ones I tried in France as well. I simply concluded that the Michelin guide is more generous with their stars in other countries, compared to the ones in America. As you all know, Eleven Madison Park is my all time favorite restaurant. It’s 3 Michelin stars and ranked number 3 (number 5 at the time) on The World’s Best 50 Restaurant list. So in choosing Amber, I did so more so because of 3SB’s recommendation than its Michelin or World’s Best 50 ranking. It earned 2 stars in the 2016 Michelin guide and is 20 on the World’s Best 50 list and 6 on Asia’s Best 50 list.
Oolong Tea ratatouille, olive oil
Like with any other fine dining meal, some freebies are always included at the start and end of a meal. Maybe not so much an aperitif, since I usually associate that with alcohol, this earthy and aromatic tea had unique vegetal notes rounded out with a subtle richness from the olive oil. An interesting start that hinted at the Asian influences in this French inspired restaurant.
Chinese Waffle buckwheat, bellpepper, tomato, anchovies
Hong Kong is well known for these sweet “bubbly” snacks. Amber’s version was made savory and retained its soft and light texture.
Amaranth Toast avocado, spring flowers
It looked very beautiful but tasted like simply of creamy avocado. Delicious.
Gruyere Cheese Tartlet grapes
The next bite had a contrast of sharp gruyere cheese and sweet fruity grapes.
Bread & Butter
I tried not get carried away with the bread service, and reigned in the inner pig in me with just 2 rolls.
Mix of Mushrooms portobello, black morel, seaweed butter, parsley, potato foam, potato chips
I think this was an extra item from the tasting menu, but no complaints here. The mushrooms were sautéed in a butter, rich with umami flavor. The potatoes were smooth and the chips a nice crispy contrast.
David Hervé ‘Ronce’ Oyster coagulated at 70 degrees C with sake leese, lemon, granny smith, salicornia
The delicate oysters were hidden beneath this thin crisp of who knows what. The flavors were light, to allow the oyster to shine. The apples and lemon kept the dish refreshing.
Aji Horse Mackerel fruit tomato, basil, lemon verbena, amaranth manni ‘per me figlio’ extra virgin olive oil
Sashimi is The Annoyer’s favorite food. He enjoyed the dish, but felt the other components overpowered the delicate aji flavor. Since I love bright and acidic flavors I didn’t mind.
Kohlrabi ‘cooked’ in lime juice and manni olive oil, aka uni, schrenki caviar
Kohlrabi is definitely not a common vegetable served at any restaurant, Western or Eastern. It’s a root vegetable that was shaved into strips, almost mimicking the look of pasta. It was a unique combination with the sweet uni and the delicate salinity of caviar. The Annoyer felt the kohlrabi was a tad distracting, but overall we enjoyed the dish.
Langoustine steamed over summer garden herbs, homemade pasta, fresh almonds, violin zucchini
The courses started to get a bit heavier. The langoustine was cooked to perfection, still maintaining a wonderful suppleness. The combination with al dente pasta, vegetables, and almonds made for a deliciously fulfilling course. I love all forms of shellfish!
Duck Foie Gras poached with fondant daikon, radish, dashi broth
The preparation of the foie gras was very interesting, being poached, rather than seared as usual. The radish provided contrasting texture. The dashi brought that subtle Asian flare.
Miyazaki Wagyu Beef strip loin, barbequed with dulse & red cabbage slaw, oxalis, horseradish, pepper berry emulsion
The beef was a lovely medium rare with sprinkles of salt flakes. It had a well caramelized and brown exterior. I wasn’t so enthralled by the cabbage slaw or pepper berry emulsion.
Line Caught Turbot confit, kabu turnip pureé, delicatesse potatoes, fondant young aubergine
I found the turbot far too undercooked for my liking. Overall, this dish was not as flavorful as the beef.
I know very little about cheese, and neither did the server. I thought he at least could have feigned some enthusiasm or knowledge about the course which he was serving.
White Peach poached, sorbet served like a ‘vacherin’ with aloe vera, lavender foam
The simplicity of peaches, meringue, and flowery lavender made for an easy start into desserts.
Kacinkoa 85% Chocolate ganache, fisherman’s friend dust, peppermint and white chocolate sorbet
I much rather preferred the mint chocolate themed dessert course. The peppermint and white chocolate sorbet was my favorite part. The chocolate here was very dark.
Green Apple Yuzu Chamomille Sorbet
The palate cleanser was a nice segway to the final sweets. It was light and refreshing.
The first bite of the mignardises was a nutty chewy nougat. Nice, but not really my thing.
Rasberry Tart balsamic vinegar, mascarpone cheese
Fruit and chocolate are my things. I appreciated the contrast of sweet creamy cheese with tart raspberries. The balsamic vinegar added another sweet tangy element.
Cherry Chocolate Mousse
Smooth, rich, dark.
Amber was fine experience. The service was attentive and gracious. The timing of the courses was on point. The execution of all the courses, except the turbot, was without fault. The food was very much the at the caliber of a 2 star Michelin, good but not outstanding. I give the place props for presenting different combinations of ingredients like the kohlrabi and uni and the poached foie gras and dashi. Overall, a lovely meal, but I’ve had better meals at this price point.
10 – You NEED to eat here
9 – Awesome
8 – Very good
7 – Good
6 – OK
5 – Average
4 – Not bad
3 – Not good
2 – Terrible
1 – Do NOT eat here