VOLUME  IX  No. 12 W E D N E S D A Y January 17, 2007


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







Name of Restaurant Mandarin Grill and Bar, Mandarin Oriental Hongkong
Address of Restaurant Number 5, Connaught Road, Hongkong
Date of Visit Thursday, January 11, 2007  
Category TARGET’s Rating
    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
    Cleanliness of Uniform and Serving Staff Excellent Acceptable Poor
          Lighting Excellent Acceptable Poor
          Music -- None 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 Very Expensive
          Storage of Wine Good Poor Unknown
          Expertise of Sommelier -- None Excellent Acceptable Poor
Total Cost of Meal    
          Very Expensive Moderately Expensive Very Reasonable Priced
Name of Director of Food and Beverage        Mr Paul Jackson  
Name of Executive Chef        Mr Sean O'Connell  


The Mandarin Grill and Bar must be one of the best, if not the best, steak house in the Hongkong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), today. 

Beyond question, The Mandarin Grill and Bar leaves Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in its wake. 

However, this food outlet of Mandarin Oriental is not fine dining: It is hardly the place where one would want to spend a romantic evening. 

Having said that, the food is outstanding as is the service and the ambiance. 

On the day that TARGET’s team visited The Mandarin Grill and Bar, this is that which was ordered:

Oyster Chowder,
freshly shucked oyster, potato

Slowed Roasted Rack of Lamb,
Western Australian Grain Fed (Half Rack)

Veloute of Sweet Leeks,
smoked salmon, coriander leaves

Beef Rib Eye – US Prime Omaha,
Corn Fed Beef Rib Eye (350 grams)


TARGET entered the restaurant at about 6:15 in the evening of last Thursday and had to wait 15 minutes in order to be seated because service does not begin until 6:30 pm. 

On entering the dining area at the appointed time, it was noted that the cooks in the open kitchen area were shouting so loudly that TARGET asked to be moved from our assigned table further to the east of the restaurant in order to escape some of the unwanted silly jokes and vulgar language, emanating from the mouths of the kitchen staff, both Chinese and European, and the constant whirring sounds, caused by machinery in the kitchen. 

Even the burley European Executive Chef, Mr Sean O’Connell, who was standing outside the open kitchen, was yelling at the cooks, mostly jestingly, adding to the general din and clatter with which one had to contend. 

Then, from time to time, an Australian female cook would call out in her high-pitched voice: ‘Service!’ 

TARGET learned, later, that this youngish Australian lady is, in fact, Ms Sarah Briegel, the Chef of the outlet. 

While she is a charming little thing, even adorned in her silly looking cook’s hat, it is not very pleasant to be verbally assaulted by periodic, stentorian outbursts of ‘Service!’ and it is extremely irritating to be shocked out of one’s seat, periodically, if one wanted to have a confidential chat with one’s companion. 

Add to this that, from time to time, cellular telephones would go off as diners took time out from filling their faces with delicious food to answer telephone calls and one does not need to have a very active imagination to understand that the dining experience was somewhat muted. 

Strangely, there was no music, emanating from the speaker system, on the day that TARGET’s team visited this restaurant so that the only sounds that one heard were those of knives and forks, doing justice to generous chunks of meat or pieces or fish, plus the constant banter from the European and Chinese kitchen staff and some conversation from the seated diners. 

As TARGET has, already, stated, this restaurant is hardly the place for a romantic evening. 

In respect of service, in this 70-seater outlet, there is some 25 serving staff, TARGET was told by our waiter. 

That is a ratio of 2.80 serving staff to every customer – which must be among the highest ratio in the HKSAR, today. 

Also, TARGET counted 8 Europeans, working as cooks in the open kitchen. 

(How long with this situation last?) 

During the meal, the fire alarm was sounded and some of the diners wondered whether or not it was time to make a dash for the exit or to wait to see what would happen. 

Within minutes, a very polite, black-coated European (manager?) made the rounds of the tables, informing customers that it was a false alarm and ‘We apologise for the inconvenience.’ 

TARGET did not order a bottle of wine to accompany the excellent beef and lamb dishes, which were ordered, because the prices of what this reviewer would consider a decent bottle of wine was way out of line with the going rates, today. 

In short, the cost of reasonable bottle of wine at this restaurant is outrageous. 

But the food and the cooking skills of the kitchen staff at this outlet are, to be sure, on a par with the best of the best – anywhere. 

The steak, especially, was among the best that TARGET has ever tasted in the territory: It could be cut, literally, with a fork. 

It was ordered to be medium rare and it came to the table, medium rare. 

As one sliced open the meat, its juices flowed: A telltale sign of near perfect cooking. 

As for the Australian lamb, it, as with the Omaha beef, was sheer delight. 

However, there was no mint jelly to accompany the lamb! 

As for the soup, it was fine, but hardly anything special. 

There was no plain cheesecake on the menu, so TARGET ordered it as a desert. 

It came in a flash.  

No question: ‘I can get it for you,’ our waiter said. 

TARGET was pleasantly surprised to find that the ice-cream, served in this outlet, is homemade: Unusual. 

In TARGET’s opinion, the cheesecake at Mandarin Oriental is among the best in the territory, but it is terribly fattening, representing at least 1,000 calories per mouthful. 

It is difficult to believe that any free-standing restaurant in the HKSAR, today, can compete with The Mandarin Grill and Bar and, in TARGET’s opinion, there is unlikely to be any outlet at any 5-star hotel to be able to compete. 

As for cost, the price of a steak at this outlet is cheaper than at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse where a 12-ounce Louisiana steak (according to the lady with whom TARGET spoke over the telephone) costs $HK410, without the trimmings. 

Mandarin Grill and Bar has only been reopened for about 3 months so that a return will be in order, later in the year, in order to learn whether or not things have changed.





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




If readers feel that they would like to voice their opinions about that which they have read in TARGET, please feel free to e-mail your views to editor@targetnewspapers.com. TARGET does not guarantee to publish readers' views, but reserves the right so to do subject to the laws of libel.