Fine Dining in Hong Kong: Mandarin Grill + Bar at Mandarin Oriental

If you keep up on celebrity chef buzz, you might remember hearing something about a certain renowned chef who recently aired his laundry at the Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong.

Famed chef, Thomas Keller, brought his signature three-Michelin-starred cuisine from The French Laundry in Napa to Hong Kong, wherein lucky diners were able to meet him and witness his culinary talents firsthand. The price for this life-changing experience? It was touted as 2010’s most expensive dinner with guests paying $900 each — not including wine!

Following the dinner, Mandarin Grill + Bar received a lot of attention, leaving some wondering — how did this one-Michelin-star restaurant rate the honor of hosting an esteemed chef like Thomas Keller? Determined to find out firsthand, I convinced my husband to fly out last weekend to check out the Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong.The Mandarin Grill stands in the downstairs shadow of the more highly regarded two-Michelin-starred Pierre, and is quite an understated gem in the Hong Kong dining scene. Eager to experience the best of what they have to offer, we opted for a nine course tasting menu paired with five wines.

Our verdict? Mandarin Grill is terribly underrated and offers cuisine you’d expect to find in the world’s finest restaurants, but without prices that rival your monthly mortgage payment. With a flair for progressive cuisine and a hint of molecular gastronomy, Executive Chef Uwe Opocensky prepares dishes designed to delight all the senses. From courses that focus on unique textures, unexpected colors, and bold flavors, to intricate presentations, this is a one-of-a-kind culinary adventure for around $250 a person.

Some of the highlights included the onion consomme infused with herbal tea and served from a teapot and a forest-inspired sirloin course with mashed potatoes poised as mushroom stems and actual mushroom caps hardened with a bright red candy-like coating. The star of the night was definitely the foie gras with black truffles that required a ten minute prep and tableside presentation — including frying a duck egg on the sizzling cast iron plate — all served on what resembled a giant bird’s nest.

Since there is no such thing as too many truffles during a meal, we decided to end on a high with their signature truffle souffle and homemade truffle petit fours served on an edible chocolate cutting board. With culinary treasures like these, it’s no wonder that Thomas Keller chose to pay the Mandarin Grill a visit.