VOLUME  VIII  No. 188 W E D N E S D A Y October 4,  2006


Dining and Wining ... Where To Go ... Where Not To Go






Name of Restaurant Amber, The Landmark Mandarin Oriental Hotel  
Address of Restaurant 7/F, No. 15, Queen's Road Central, Hongkong  
Date of Visit September 21, 2006, Thursday  
Category       TARGET’s Rating    
          Service Excellent Acceptable Poor
          First Impression Excellent Acceptable Poor
          Attentiveness to Customers’ Needs Excellent Acceptable Poor
          Flexibility Excellent Acceptable Poor
          Product Expertise of Serving Staff Excellent Acceptable Poor
          Speed of Service Excellent Acceptable Poor
Smoking and Non-Smoking Areas          Smoking                         Non-Smoking  
          Lighting Excellent Acceptable Poor
          Music Excellent Acceptable Poor
          General Excellent Acceptable Poor
          Presentation Excellent Acceptable Poor
          Taste Excellent Acceptable Poor
          Quantity Excellent Acceptable Poor
          Choice Extensive Limited Unbalanced
          Cost Reasonable Unreasonable  
          Storage of Wine Good Poor  
          Expertise of Sommelier Excellent Acceptable Poor
Total Cost of Meal    
          Very Expensive Moderately Expensive Very Reasonable Priced  
Name of Director of Food and Beverage Mr Christopher Pointaux  
Name of Executive Chef Mr Richard Ekkebus  


One is told that the food, served at Amber Restaurant, the fine-dining outlet of The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, is ‘modern European’

Well, as far as TARGET is concerned, it’s time for a revival, folks: Please bring back that ‘old time religion’.  

Mr Richard Ekkebus, the Executive Chef of Amber, may be considered a creative chef by the Mandarin’s Director of Food and Beverage, Mr Christophe Pointaux, and Mr Richard Ekkebus may well have been trained in the classical European school, but his culinary experiment at the small, fine-dining outlet at Landmark Mandarin Oriental is a failure, in this medium’s opinion. 

TARGET’s team visited Amber on Thursday, September 21, 2006, in order to learn, after all the hype about this restaurant, just how good it was. 

The answer: The food is outrageously expensive for what one gets and it is insipid, for the most part. 

This was TARGET’s menu on the day of our visit: 

Organic Vine Tomato $HK190
Duck Foie Gras $HK260
Sardines SHK210
Challans Chicken Breast $HK390
Meagre $HK310

The Appetizers were something of a disaster area because the sardines smelt and tasted as though they were ‘off’: After a small taste, the waiter was informed that they were not edible. 

As for the Organic Vine Tomato Appetizer, the appearance of the 3, very small dishes of tomatoes – a puree, the chopped-up variety, and what had the appearance of a tiny salad – was really excellent, but the appearance was about all one could say for this very pretentious combination. 

The Duck Foie Gras was good, by itself, but it clashed, badly, with the Smoked Freshwater Eel, which had been pressed between 2 slabs of thinly cut Duck Foie Gras. 

No points here. 

TARGET’s team chose 2 Main Courses, both of which were mediocre. 

The meagre, which this medium learned later, on consulting a dictionary, is a large, carnivorous scaienid fish, found mainly in The Mediterranean, was nothing about which to write home to mom and TARGET’s reviewer could care less whether or not it was ever tasted again. 

There was nothing wrong with the fish dish, but there was little to say about this dish, too. 

In fact, the memory of this dish eludes TARGET to this day because it had no distinctive flavour or texture – and the method of cooking the fish did little to help it along. 

With salmon, there is a distinctive taste, as there is with tuna, garoupa, parrot fish, etc, but the way in which Amber cooked the meagre left TARGET’s team absolutely cold. 

As for the Callans Chicken Breast, it was completely insipid: One would never have known that it was chicken if the lights were turned off. 

This dish should have been a high point of the meal, but it turned out to be a zero point … as was most of the meal. 

One of the TARGET duo is allergic to red peppers and Chef Richard Ekkebus explained that, if the red peppers had been added to the chicken breast dish, it would have been much better. 

What TARGET assumed by this comment was that the chicken breast required the flavour of red peppers because the chicken, by itself, had no flavour. 

But Challans is famous in France for the flavour of its chickens among other things in Pays De La Loire! 

TARGET was quite prepared to skip the desserts, completely, because nothing, really, appealed, but on learning from our waiter that we were not too happy with the meal, when asked whether or not crêpe suzette was possible, it appeared on the table in about 10 minutes. 

And it became the high point of the meal! 

If TARGET never returned to Amber, it would be too soon. 

The TARGET team was hungry at 8 pm on Thursday, September 21, 2006, and the TARGET team was hungry at 10 pm on Thursday, September 21, 2006, when it left Amber. 

This restaurant is pretentious and does not match up against its rivals except, perhaps, with regard to the prices that it charges because it is not good value for money.  

A word about the training of the serving staff in general: Excellent. 

One major negative comment about the service is that the man, who appeared to be some kind of Captain of the waiters, appeared to be completely oblivious of any of the other guests, other than his friends or a person, not known to be a member of the hoi polloi, so that, when there was any requirement for assistance at a table, next to where he was having a little tête-à-tête with one of his favourites or somebody of importance in the world of Hongkong business, he merely continued with his exchange of bon mots.    

That, really, is not on when one is paying top dollar for a dinner, is it? 

By the way, aside from the first peak of that maître d’hôtel, whoever he was, TARGET’s team never saw him anywhere near our table, but it was noted that he was chatting with obvious friends of his in the restaurant, throughout our visit. 

Another rather interesting aspect about Amber was that there appeared to be no sommelier on duty on the evening that TARGET paid the restaurant a visit. 

The list of wines was very extensive, however, and all appeared to be reasonable priced, considering the relatively high cost of the food. 

Conclusion: On the day that TARGET visited Amber, it was half empty: There appeared to be a good reason for this situation.





While TARGET makes every attempt to ensure accuracy of all data published, 
TARGET cannot be held responsible for any errors and/or omissions.




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