A car showroom is a smart backdrop and branding idea for a restaurant, as long as the car in question is a Mercedes. Somehow a Skoda café wouldn’t quite cut it. An F1 safety car greets as you step inside from the heart of Queen’s Road Central:The German luxury giant is rightly careful about its brand image and so chose wisely in pairing with Maximal Concepts. This lunch, tasting a number of dishes from across the menu, showed that high octane excitement can stretch to the plate as much as the car. It’s the sort of place where you share plates and dishes and, although prices aren’t cheap, this is seriously accomplished and playful cooking in a very swish setting. By evening it is crammed with drinkers and diners, at lunch it’s more relaxed but still buzzing, helped along by really personable staff, some of the most professional and slickest I’ve encountered in Hong Kong.
The menu (there’s no set) is simply divided into raw, cold, hot, grill and sweet. From the first of these Kys Oysters from Brittany came inspired by three cuisines, namely Peruvian, Spanish and Japanese. Spain featured tomato and habanero oil in a pipette, Japan a beautiful ponzu and ikura (roe) while the best was saved for Peru and and beguiling mix of coriander, mint and lime. ($230)
Foie gras lollipop came enveloped by spun sugar strands, candy floss as we say in Essex, crowned by shards of nori seaweed. In some hands this would be gimmicky, but here it’s a perfect green light for the rest of the race. ($60)
A San Sebastián classic are kokotxas, the basque delicacy of hake throats. Difficult and expensive to source, around the world cod is generally used but here salmon is the source, beautiful slightly seared and dressed with sesame seeds. They’re a bugger to pick up with chopsticks, but well worth the effort. ($250)
Sea Urchin with fig came on a nori cracker with oyster leaf and ponzu (citrus-based soy). Sensational eating. ($210)
More sobrassada with mozzarella, this time in the Catalan classic ‘Bikini’ sandwich ($120). This shoots right up there alongside Catalunya as my favourite version in Hong Kong. Just take a brisk walk after eating three of them.
The closing laps bought lamb short ribs with Romesco sauce and padron green peppers, great gnawing and dunking and shameless finger licking, Captain Caveman style ($460)
Fittingly in a restaurant featuring an F1 car, the chequered flag bought the most excitement in the form of two quite brilliant desserts. Ginger sorbet with white chocolate and yoghurt ganache alongside passion fruit ($110) was just mind-numbingly tasty. I’d go back for this alone:To cap a fine meal, caramelized Catalan cream foam with vanilla ice cream, orange and honeycomb ($115). Just beautiful, soft and voluptuous, with some cheeky Crunchie shrapnel hidden underneath for good measure.
Mercedes me Hong Kong, Shop C and D Entertainment Building, 30 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong +852 2895 7398 http://www.mercedes.me/hongkong