Time of the year when it was the birthday of "the principal"
in my life (my dear mum); it made perfect sense to bring my family to "The Principal"
for a star experience on Star Street
Widely recognised to be a promising addition of the Press Room Group when it was first opened; the Principal has proven to be a successful and sophisticated member since then. Hidden discretely down on the far end of Star Street, but it gained the one-star Michelin recognition promptly
after opening for a year or so. Power of minimalistic design. Spot-on example of "less is more"
. The Principal has a clean yet sophisticated interior, the bright airy space is filled with relaxing vibes
. ...Alas, I have to start with some negatives (I prefer getting the painful and depressing bits out of the way first ). We were greeted pleasantly, brought to the table and seated. And just as we got comfortable... we were told it was the wrong table...(ok, fine)...well, then we all stood up and followed the usherette to the other side of the restaurant; when another usherette/waitress gave her a stern stare full of disapproval, guess what - we headed to the wrong table again.. Anyway, we were eventually seated and we did manage to eat (LOL). Slight hiccup, but one which I would not expect from a place of this (I presumed high) caliber (or seeking to be seen as this caliber). Let's fast-forward a bit and get through another anticlimax; for two of our courses, the waitress failed/forgot to present/explain to us the composition of the dish (ok.. maybe I am being mean, but again, would have expected more from a place of this caliber). Oh and we were not served bread when some other tables seemed to have got them...
A simple but inviting a la carte menu, though we had our eyes on the "Degustation Menu" (HK$1080 - quite reasonably priced). Me being me, I signed up for the wine pairing (by adding an extra HK$500, you have a matching wine for each of the 10 course! Fairly good value!).
"Snack" and "Amuse Bouche"
To start us off we were offered "Snack"
(photo on top). The tray of goodies
, from left to right: marinated olives, crispy bits, caramel popcorns, roasted chestnuts. As "Amuse Bouche"
(photo beneath): we had Italian chorizo and cheese puffs (warm and mushy.. adore!); meringue with goat cheese (very nicely done, the sweetness of the meringue integrated really well with the unique aroma (tartiness and earthiness) of goat cheese; similar to the Amuse Bouche I had at Fat Duck in England); Spanish biscuits (not memorable).
"Oyster" and "Caviar"
First course "Oyster"
(photo on the left). The oyster shell was placed on some pebbles. Poached oyster sliced into small pieces, presented with a taste of Thai
(lime and ginger and coriander used) and topped with coconut foam. Unfortunately, the coconut foam did not really speak; it was too light to the point that it was undetectable. This dish tasted a bit like the Chinese dish "ginger and spring oinion fried oyster"; but I must admit it does have more complexity in flavours
Second course "Caviar"
(photo on the right). The white bed under the caviar is no ordinary custard
, but custard blessed with bacon essence
. Extremely creamy and backed with aroma of pancetta
- it was very palatable
and an excellent base for the sensual and distinctive scent of caviar
. The presentation of this course (with the box and the name of the restaurant printed on top..) reminded me of Robuchon's Caviar Box (which I absolutely LOVE). I would say Robuchon's take is more exquisite, but I very much enjoyed The Principal's "Caviar" as well. Nice!
"Caprese" and "Mackerel"
Third course "Caprese"
(photo on top). Caprese, this refers to Insalata Capreses (aka salad in the style of Capri) which is a traditional Italian salad comprising of fresh buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes and basil. An innovative interpretation and I have to say a successful one!
Fresh mozzarella took the form of mozzarella foam instead (!!
); though don't be fooled. Yes it was foam, yes it was light and airy, but (as opposed to the coconut foam for "Oyster") it was absolutely flavourful and luscious
. It was "very mozzarella
". Tomatoes - in two ways: dried and terrine; vibrant acidity
perfectly balanced against the natural fruitiness
of tomatoes - made my mouth water
. The green icecream brought in the basil element; pleasantly herbaceous
, it was one refreshing scope! A few balsamic 'pop's laid on the terrine; vital component of "Caprese" to give it that POP
! This was a beautiful bridge between tradition and innovation!! Really enjoyed it!
Fourth course "Mackerel"
(photo beneath). Very fresh Mackerel with a hint of smokiness rested on aljoblanco. Aljoblanco is a typical Spanish cold soup from Andalusia; this is a warmer version but equally aromatic
of bread, almond, vanilla and olive oil (a bit like good old Chinese almond tea, except it's better, it's with more characters
). The gem
was the golden apple mash; neither over-powering nor redundant, it amazed me how well it complimented and brought out the freshness
of the mackerel immensely. Gorgeous dish.
"Foie" and "Ravioli"
Fifth course "Foie"
(photo on top). Foie gras, poached, then marinated in a stimulating mixture
of pickles, kumquats and yuzu (escabeche style!) and topped with a colourful garden
of veg. Personally I found it too acidic and citrusy; luckily not to the extent that the flavour was harsh, but the foie gras was unnecessarily played down. Could display a better balance.
Sixth course "Ravioli"
(photo beneath). First, let's pause
, take a moment and admire the oozing
yolk (LOL yes I have a thing for runny yolks). Not
an ordinary ravioli.
The ravioli skin was crisped to golden
, the warm beautiful yolk hidden within was enhanced with pancetta essence. The creamy and buttery iberico parmentier base (iberico flavoured mash) was not heavy at all and brought all components of the dish together effectively. I licked my spoon
for the last bit of it.
"Sea Bream" and "Pigeon"
Seventh course "Sea Bream"
(photo on top). The sea bream was very fresh and its moisture was nicely retained
. It was fantastically
flavourful, infused with Korean spices
. The green sea roe and mustard seeds, together with celeriac dices worked well with the mustard froth and added further textures and dimensions
to the dish. Each nibble sent hot sensations on my palate
. Sheer excitement
to my senses!
Eighth course "Pigeon"
(photo beneath). This dish consisted of the breast and the drumstick, cooked in slightly different way but both super succulent
. I enjoyed the breast particularly, it displayed (borrowing a description from the wine world) hints of CIGAR BOX
- elegant balance of sweetness and cedarwood with waves of smokiness
. Medium rare; very juicy and savoury
. Rather perfect fat balance as well. Nice bed of bomba rice, "soil" (made from "cepes" which is an edible fungus) and cute little truffles which were all brought to life by the rich gravy. Yumm.
"Citrus" and "Rapa Nui"
Ninth course "Citrus"
(photo on the left). A refreshing palate cleanser as a pre-dessert
. Three scoops - a lemon & ginger curd, lemongrass-mint sobert, kaffir lime ice-cream; with green tarragon jelly. Yellow crumbs brought further sweetness into the picture. All in all, a success in bringing about an elusive summery flavour
which was fruity, sharp and citrusy
Tenth course "Rapa Nui"
(photo on the right). I smiled when I saw this.
Rapa Nui, also known as the Easter Island - with their world-famous large stone statues
(aka Moai) (dated back to 1100CE!!). 2 Moai for each of us, presented elegantly on a dark plate. Each was a simple shaped-chocolate filled with roasted corn ice-cream. Bits of "rocks"
which were sweet milk chocolate mousse were laid on "palm leaves"
which were dry cocunut flakes dyed in green (pretty clever!). Gorgeous to look at and tasted well.
Our night ended with petit fours; and my brother performing the catchy line from "the Night at the Museum"
: "ME no dum-dum, YOU dum-dum! You bring me gum-gum"
I could not help smiling, from my heart. That meal
we had. That vibe
around the table. That smile
on my principal's face. That
- is exactly why I work hard, and very hard, at work.Many more to come.
...as I walked out of the restaurant, I clicked on my iphone and texted my best girlfriends proposing Sunday brunch together, at the Principal, with free-flow.
Value for Money 4