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Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong’s Tosca reviewed

13 Apr 2011 by Tom Otley
As the world now knows, the Ritz-Carlton is open for business, and is very tall. To read the background on this incredible 118-storey building, as well as see some images, click here and here. For those of us for whom height isn’t the primary reason for choosing one hotel above another, perhaps news of the restaurants on the 102nd floor might be more relevant. There are three: an all-day dining outlet, a Cantonese restaurant and an Italian restaurant. These are spaced around the building, all on the same level, and each has floor to ceiling windows to the exterior, and floor to ceiling glass panelled wine racks on the interior (there are 12,000 bottles and 800 labels here). We visited as sunset came on, taking a few drinks in the rooftop bar Ozone on the 18th floor. It was a hazy day, quite windy, and not particularly warm, so we stood outside for a drink and then leant against the bar, which gradually filled with casually-dressed very young bankers to stylish model-types who were so tall they probably felt quite at home with the building. You can eat snack food here or sushi, but the restaurants are back down on the lobby level of 103 where you’ll find the Chocolate Library for teas and, well chocolate, or down an escalator to the main dining floor – 102. Taking a stroll on this level to see which restaurant you might fancy dining at must be one the pleasures of staying here, especially after dark as the walkway is illuminated in strips of prosperous gold as you pass the fine dining Cantonese restaurant Tin Lung Heen, lucky red as you take in the all day dining Lounge and bar, and finally find your way to the blue strips of Tosca, blue symbolising water, and specifically the sea, since sea food is the speciality of this southern Italian restaurant. The name Tosca makes sense, since the former Ritz-Carlton on the other side of the water had Toscana, but there’s little in common with that restaurant. The design theme by Japanese agency Spin is one of water, from the fountains to the glazed interior windows, sculptures and rippling decorative patterns echoing the view of the harbour and the seafood on the menu. Thankfully, the design follows sensible guidelines – the dark maroon chairs with gold stripes are extremely comfortable and have a handle on their backs and casters on the feet to aid staff as they seat you, and the lavender cotton table cloths sit well with specially commissioned glass plates by Glass Studio and glassware by Zwiesel, in blue here in Toscana, red in the all day dining and of course brown for the Chocolate Library on the balcony (floor 103 above). The menu is not long, with each dish repeated first in English and Italian on the left hand page and then an English and Mandarin on the right. There are starters, pasta and main courses, with fish, meat and vegetarian options (marked with a “V”), while signature dishes are helpfully marked with a “S”. A tasting menu of five courses costs HK$800 (US$102). Chef Vittorio Lucariello who has worked previously at Grissini in the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong and Angelini at the Shangri-la and who comes from Aversa, close to Naples (good for mozzarella di bufala) believes in fresh ingredients, simply prepared allowing the natural flavours to be appreciated. Starters included roasted Kurobuta pork, white polenta and aged occhiato cheese (HK$198/US$25) or the premium selection of Italian hams, melon, figs and Parmigiano “Vacche Rosse” (HK$210/US$27). Instead, we went straight for the pasta, The paccheri with scampi, cannellini beans, breadcrumbs and anchovy sauce was delicious, the saltiness of the anchovies cutting through the creamy but firm flesh of the scampi, while the beans were softened by the sauce and delicious. Since sea food was recommended, grilled sea bass, crushed potatoes, cherry tomatoes and black olives (HK$360/US$46) was simplicity itself, the fish perfectly cooked, each vegetable with its own distinct flavour. Dessert options included Sicilian cannoli, fig soup, caramel and nougat gelato, or Baba’ cherry custard, pine nuts praline and Malaga gelato (both $HK90/US$57). The wine list is extensive, and of course has a huge range of Italian wines. There’s no shortage of excellent Italian restaurants in Hong Kong, including of course Otto e Mezzo by Toscana chef Umberto Bombana, but Tosca is a very different restaurant, with a lovely contrast between the extreme modernity of the surroundings and the southern Italian food. It’s also, as you would expect, extremely popular, with bookings currently being taken for May, unless you are a hotel guest. Another reason to stay. Tosca is open from 12pm-2.30pm for lunch, 11.30am-3pm Sunday only, and 6pm-10.30pm for dinner. www.ritzcarlton.com
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