“Above & Beyond” sounds more like something Buzz Lightyear would say than the name of a restaurant. The Above & Beyond restaurant sits on top of the Hotel Icon at the eastern end of Tsim Sha Tsui, near the entrance to the Cross Harbour Tunnel. In the course of our research as to where to eat in Hong Kong, this particular restaurant appeared on our radar for various reasons: the food reviews were generally good; it is a restaurant associated with designer Terence Conran; a 28th floor view of the Hong Kong skyline; and its tie up with the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and an extension of its School of Hotel and Tourism Management. The prices on the menu look reasonable and so we made a reservation for dinner at Above & Beyond.
There seems to be a new trend for new Chinese restaurants in Hong Kong to be clothed in trendy and contemporary interior settings. Above & Beyond restaurant is one of them and another recent one we visited was Duddell’s. The contemporary decor theme worked well here especially when Terence Conran can put his interior design skills to good use. The only problem was that the lighting was so dim. We could hardly read the menu and had to ask for some clip on lights. More critically, it adversely impacted our ability to take photos. Perhaps the darkness was to facilitate the view of the Hong Kong skyline. In the context of today’s instagram world, we urge all restaurant owners to provide good lighting for food photos.
It was nice to get a window seat and enjoy the view of the Hong Kong skyline. But it is quite a distant view as the Hotel Icon is located far to the east end and inland. If views are important it is better to dine at restaurants nearer the water and in the middle stretch of Tsim Sha Tsui. But still, there was some entertainment as a laser light show comes on around 8 pm from the top of the a building in Central (the IFC mall I think).
Anyway, back to the business of eating. Here are some badly taken photos of the menu and wine list. We made a selection of four dishes – char siew roast pork (HK$168), crab claw (HK$138), wok fried eggplant with beancurd skin (HK$168) and a claypot rice with preserved meats (HK$238).
Service was quick, in fact too quick. The first three items arrived at the same time. A word with the manager ensured that the main dish – the claypot rice was kept away until we were ready for it. The teaming of the restaurant with trainee restaurant staff is certainly a good idea. Other than the hurried pace of service of those dishes, it was not obvious that some of the staff were students.
The crab claw was a piece of crab cake with a part of a pincer inserted into it to look like a claw. Not bad, but we were expecting real crab.
We selected the char siew pork while riding up the lift to the 28th floor. There was a LED screen in the lift that displayed some dishes served at the restaurant and this was one of them. It looked so good on the screen that we were sold on it. The real thing did not look as good, but the taste was great. There is quite a bit of difference between Hong Kong and Singapore char siew. The Hong Kong version seems to use more fatty cuts of meat resulting in oily but more tasty roast pork. The Singapore version uses drier meats and has more charred bits which can be very nice as well.
The fried eggplant on a bed of bean curd skin looks like a plain dish but the simple taste of these two ingredients were very good.
Finally, the claypot rice with preserved meats like chicken and Chinese sausages was served. It was a large pot that could be a complete meal for two by itself. The smell and flavours of the meat could be detected as soon as the lid was removed. A very tasty and heavy end to our meal.
As part of the modernisation of Chinese restaurants, we also noticed that there is a greater attention to the wine lists of the Hong Kong restaurants. At Above & Beyond restaurant there was an extensive wine list and a very decent selection of wines by the glass. We tried a couple and the wine that stood out was the 2010 Gaja Brunello di Montalcino. Quite pricey at HK$170 per glass but a very delicious wine to go with our char siew and claypot rice!
Overall Rating: 3 TOPs
Above & Beyond
28th Floor, Hotel Icon
17 Science Museum Road
Tsim Sha Tsui East
Kowloon, Hong Kong