I arrived in Hong Kong 3 days prior; this made me understand the geography of the city a little bit. When you are seated on the 102nd floor, overlooking the city, this knowledge does come in handy. Tosca is a very intriguing restaurant, be it the alley that leads you to the restaurant or the open kitchen that forms the nucleus. Inside, the atmosphere was very calm, accentuated by the water fountain close to my table. The tunes of the gushing water coupled with the view created quite an atmosphere. The Ritz-Carlton is a part of the ICC of Hong Kong, where in the lower floors make up the office complex. The executives from these multinationals occupied most of the tables for lunch. Our server graciously seated us at a table, which gave us a view of Kowloon City that pushed New York’s Rockefeller Center to second on the list of my favorite panoramas. As they say, the stage was set, and I was waiting for the performance to sweep me off my feet.
The first course was Crab Cookie, and Roasted Langoustine served with Veal Trotter, Green Bean Puree, and Summer Truffle sauce. This glorious dish hits your palate to transport you right to a sunny beach somewhere in the South of Italy. The real class in this dish was the lightly sprinkled sea salt that brought out the flavors in all their glory.
Next up was Spaghetti “alla chitarra” flavored with basil chlorophyll, which was cooked perfectly. What was evident in the plating was the way the chef wanted his creation to look interesting. He had plated it to look like a squid, along with some squid ink reminiscent around it on the plate. This gorgeously plated dish had its elements placed so elegantly we almost did not want to dissect the masterpiece. Served with a baby squid stew and black olive oil, which only complemented the lightness of the swordfish paper that the spaghetti was wrapped in. Every bite brought out the flavors and individual ingredients.
After the second course, we were not only spellbound by the ease with which the chef managed to bring out the subtle yet distinct flavors in every element of the two dishes but also how each unique flavor complemented the other in their individuality to create a composite whole.
Then came along what was the superlative creation of the evening; the pièce de résistance. Charcoal glazed beef tenderloin was our favorite offering on the menu. Served with a side of foie gras, baked potato cake, crispy roots and grilled vegetables, the tenderloin was tender, juicy, and cooked perfectly medium rare, as requested. The smokey flavor of the charcoal glaze did wonders to the meat, which seeped the flavor into every bite. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner.
After a willingly induced food coma, we were served dessert, which the beef made us almost forget about. And for good measure, White Chocolate Yoghurt Mousse and Mango Sorbet brought us right back to life. The velvety mousse was perfectly sweetened – neither under nor over. But the real hero of this delectable dessert was the mango sorbet, which was the closest I have come to having fresh fruit without actually having the fruit. You could tell the choicest mangoes brought out the flavor in this most palatable sorbet.
At the end of the meal, you realize that once you step within Tosca, the ambiance and refinement set a certain benchmark in your mind that the food only surpasses. The inspiration for the food comes from Southern Italian cooking, and that paired with some great local produce distinguishes Tosca. Award-winning Chef Pino Lavarra has successfully managed to haul a slice of Southern Italy into the busiest district of Hong Kong in the form of Tosca.
The critic was served a tasting menu.
The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong
International Commerce Centre (ICC),
1 Austin Rd W,
Tel No: +852 2263 2263
From Mumbai, Viraj Sawant heads the western region operations of the immensely popular restaurant discovery app Zomato. He enjoys playing cricket when not thinking of the next strategy to disrupt the gourmet industry. A hard-core foodie, he is also a Bollywood junkie in denial.