Address: Shop 204-205, 2/F, Chater House, 8 Connaught Road Central, Central 中環干諾道中8號遮打大廈2樓204-205號舖
Telephone: 3583 2828
Aqua group restaurants are renowned for their impeccably stylish and elegant decor, and Armani/Aqua in Chater House is certainly one of the most fashionable restaurants in the area. New head chef Andrea Magnano, who has spent many years studying and experimenting with one-of-a-kind salts from around the globe, has designed a Salt Discovery Menu, a tasting menu that utilises carefully selected rare salts, priced at $1,288 per person.
Even though this menu is quite expensive for the amount of food served, it is worth noting the presentation of each dish is startlingly beautiful and completely matches the splendour of the restaurant’s interior.
(1) A glass of Pink Poodle ($140) is ordered. I find the cocktail not sweet enough initially but after a few more sips it starts to grow on me, and a hint of saltiness matches well with all the dishes.
(2) Our menu begins with Three Botan prawns served on a block of Pink Himalayan Salt. The tender, translucent prawns, mildly dehydrated from contact with the salt block, are a delight, and the pairing salt is the Cypriot Saffron Pyramids, which come from the shores of Lake Larnaka and have been delicately infused with saffron.
(3) The Pan fried duck foie gras and home cured duck ham is rich and enticing, and is kissed by the smokiness of the Viking Java Mix Salt, a blend personally created by chef Andrea using ground Indonesian long peppercorns and smoked Norwegian Viking Salt from the Fjords.
(4) The Sicilian red prawn risotto, Maltese scampi & Malossol caviar is a blend of fresh, delicate flavours. The seafood is supple and tender and the risotto is moist and plumped up with juices. Some Iranian Persian Blue Salt is grated over the risotto at the table – this salt is a very rare salt which culminates from a natural 100 million year process. We are told that the flavour is initially very salty and then instantly fades, but unfortunately this sensation is too subtle for my amateur taste buds to notice.
(5) The Italian clams, mussels and Spanish baby squid served on homemade Zizzagne pasta is just like a colourful, edible piece of painting. Taste-wise this dish is not memorable, but the Hawaiian Black Lava Salt, formed in ponds made from natural lava from which it imports its deep black colour and smokey flavour, sounds quite impressive!
(6) Our last dish is the 96 hour grass fed Black Angus strip loin. The steak is tender but has already turned cold by the time it is served. We are supposed to spread the green rocket jelly over the steak, but it tastes a tad too salty. The pairing salt is the Hoarfrost Salt, which is harvested from the heart of the Sahara desert near the oasis of Bahaiya and has a snowflake-like appearance.
Perhaps due to the kitchen’s attention to detail, the food arrives extremely slowly and our five courses are served over a span of two and a half hours – fortunately, chef Andrea Magnano is very delighted to give us an in-depth analysis on the science behind each dish to fill the gap between each course. While this meal is by no means a typical, hearty dinner, it is certainly a very interesting and educational experience. I do hope there are others who have a stronger passion in rare salts than I do!