VOLUME XV  No. 21 W E D N E S D A Y January 30, 2013




 


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

 

 

THE  BEST

RESTAURANTS  OF  HONGKONG ...

AND  THE  WORST !

 

Name of Restaurant The Principal
     
Address of Restaurant Ground Floor, No. 9, Star Street, Wanchai, Hongkong
Date of Visit Tuesday, December 18, 2012  
 
Category

TARGETs  Rating

       
Service      
    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
 
Ambiance
          Lighting Excellent Acceptable Poor
          Music -- None Excellent Acceptable Poor
          General Excellent Acceptable Poor
 
Food
          Presentation Excellent Acceptable Poor
          Taste Excellent Acceptable Poor
          Quantity Excellent Acceptable Poor
 
Wine  
          Choice Extensive Limited Unbalanced
          Cost Reasonable Unreasonable Expensive
          Storage of Wine Good Poor Unknown
          Expertise of Sommelier Excellent Acceptable None
                                                                    
Total Cost of Meal    

          Very Expensive

Moderately Expensive       Very Reasonably Priced
Name of Restaurant Manager Mr Arturo Sims
 
Name of Executive Chef Mr Jonay Armas  
 
Comments

 

THE  PRINCIPAL:
FIRST  APPEARANCES  ARE  NOT,  ALWAYS,  LASTING  ONES


Our waiter claimed that the restaurant had 10 cooks in the kitchen, the Executive Chef, being Spanish, two sous chefs, hailing from Australia and the United States, and the remaining seven cooks, all being Chinese. 

This little ‘army’ prepares and cooks for a restaurant that can seat just 75 people. 

Difficult to believe, isn’t it? 

Well, that was that which TARGET (泰達財經) was told by the waiter, named Alex, who was serving our table on Tuesday, December 18, 2012, at about 7:10 p.m. This restaurant, located on the border between Wanchai and Admiralty, is called The Principal. 

On sampling the food for a little more than two hours, it was very apparent that the people in the kitchen were, most likely, all Asians and ne’er a European had soiled his hands in the preparation of this medium’s select dishes, although, to be fair, European thinking must have gone into the preparation and presentation of the dishes. 

But the food, actually, was middling to fair, nevertheless – because Chinese cooks are among the best in the world, in any event, and can, if they so desire, turn their hands to prepare just about any cuisine, sometimes to a high degree. 

On the evening of TARGET’s visit to The Principal, this was that which was ordered, copied, exactly, as written on the small menu: 

Starters 

FOIE
Seared, Oats Stones Beet, Plum Balsamic Caviar
$HK270 

LANGOUSTINE
Norway a la Plancha, Sofrito, Pacada, Curry
$HK335 

63 EGG
Free range, Artichokes, (Australian) truffle (shavings)
$HK220 

Main Courses

VENISON
Jerusalem artichokes, Chanteralles, Chestnuts, Grelots
$HK460 

SALTBUSH LAMB
Tenderloin, Sweetbreads, Eggplant, Chickpeas,
Ras El Hanoat Yoghurt
$HK395 

BEEF
Grilled Sirloin, Bone Marrow, Burnt Leaks, Zucchini
$HK395 

Deserts 

PIA COLADA
Coconut foam, Pineapple sorbet,
White rum jelly, Coconut Meringue
$HK130 

CREMA CATALANA
Pistachio, Basil Sorbet, Raspberry Croquant Berries
$HK130
 

Along with the above, TARGET, on the suggestion of the sommelier, ordered a bottle of Spanish wine at the cost of $HK560. It was Anima Negra ‘AN/2’ Mallorca Callet, Mantonegre-Fogoneu, Vintage 2006. 

(Sometimes, as this reviewer has come to learn, it is better to trust one’s own judgment than accept the suggestion of somebody else’s, especially if that person, regardless of ethnicity, is young.) 

The Starters 

The Foie – goose liver – was terrible! 

Aside from this dish, being lukewarm, bordering on being cold, it was undercooked. Clearly, the frying pan had not being sufficiently heated before the lump of liver was placed on it: The idiot who attempted to cook this dish had no idea what to do.

 The langoustine, all three of them, each measuring about two inches long, tasted of the herbs and what-have-you that had been used in the cooking process. 

The trouble with this dish was that the poor langoustines, also known as Dublin Bay prawns, had been frozen, the powdery texture of the meat, being a telltale indication of this in addition to the water that seeped out from under the shells. 

As for the 63 egg, it was fine, having been a poached egg that had been placed on a plate and partially covered with shavings of an Australian truffle. 

The Main Courses 

When the three main courses came, they all looked very similar, all having been presented in almost the same manner! 

Whereas, TARGET had requested that the venison and the lamb should be well-cooked, the beef, being medium-well cooked, all of the meat, placed on the table, had been prepared just a tad over rare. 

Regardless of the presentation of the meat, they, all, tasted very similar. 

To cook lamb so that it tastes as though it were beef is something very special, but somebody in the kitchen had found a method to perform this feat. 

Still on the matter of the lamb, which was supposed to be accompanied with sweetbreads, these glandular pieces either the thymus or pancreas of a young animal – usually, either a calf or lamb – were almost impossible to locate until a black-jacketed official of the restaurant pointed out that the quarter-inch, blackened fried lump, hiding under a piece of meat. 

As for the beef and the venison, they, both, tasted so much alike that, on a blind-tasting competition, this reviewer would be hard-pressed to be able to tell the difference. 

As for the Spanish wine, well the least said of it, the best. 

The Desserts 

Of all the dishes, sampled by his medium, the deserts were far the most surprising and, the best tasting. 

TARGET is not a fan of sorbets, but the two sorbets, tasted on this evening, were superb. 

It is unlikely that this reviewer will, ever, return to The Principal, but, if it is transpired that there were to be a second tasting, the deserts would not be forgotten. 

Conclusion 

If a point count were to be ascribed to the food of The Principal, with a 10, being perfection, then that point count would look like this: 

            Desserts                                    8.50 points
            The Main Courses                   3.50 points
            The Starters                              3.00 points
            TOTAL                                   15.00 POINTS (out of a total of 30 points) 

The Principal is a well-outfitted eatery in an area that has, over the past decade or so, been upgraded from the slum that it, previously, used to be thanks to the material investments of cash by the Swire Group of Companies, starting with the construction of the popular residential complex, named Star Crest, having been the focal point of that which was to follow.

The restaurant is clean and, clearly, well managed. It only hires Chinese serving staff, it appears. 

The serving staff, although many of them cannot pronounce the names of a number of the dishes and most of the wines, is well trained and go out of their way to be helpful when called upon so to do. 

While the wine list is very interesting to scan, it is obvious, on talking to the Chinese sommelier, that the staff has little to no idea about wines although bullshit does go a long way in the service industry, doesn’t it? 

It would appear to this medium that a great deal of emphasis has been placed on service – which is all well and good – but the kitchen staff is not a patch on the attempts of the serving staff, at least that was the situation on TARGET’s visit. 

How long this restaurant will survive is up to the determinations of culinary gods, Zeus, being the chief deity of the Greece pantheon, but, unless something is radically changed in the kitchen, it is likely that The Principal will have to be relocated to cheaper premises – unless it is decided to close its doors, permanently.

 

 

 

 

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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