Laid out with generous space and a beautiful aroma on the 102nd floor of The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong, Tosca provides the finest authentic southern Italian cuisine on this side of the Pacific Ocean. Beautifully designed and crafted by Japan’s Spin Design Studios, Tosca is actually a re-carnation of the old Toscana Restaurant that used to be situated at the old Ritz-Carlton in Hong Kong. In actual fact, this is one hot restaurant to dine at as proved by the month-long-waiting list that has been long standing since the hotel opened! That includes practically the whole of Hong Kong’s who’s who.
As the restaurant comes alive in the evenings, the magnificent open kitchen leaves little space for errors as Neapolitan chef Vittorio Lucariello can be seen performing various types of culinary magical tricks with his team to present surprises. Whenever I go to a restaurant, I let the chef show off and ask them to put forward some of their latest creations. ‘What would you like to order, Mr. Singh?’ asked chef Lucarirllo, who loves Yoga on his days off and prefers to keeps his mind dancing in culinary thoughts. ‘Just surprise me, please’. I replied as I handed back the menu to Mr. Lucarirllo. indeed, that’s exactly what he did. The set of dishes that followed through were a sheer work of culinary art. Before I get to that I think its best that you know what the atmosphere is like on a typical evening at the Tosca. The ambiance is nice enough so that you can have a relaxing chat with your fellow dinars without having to shout, especially when the restaurant is at its full capacity. The point I am trying to get to is that even when the eatery is fully packed it is designed such that the huge two-floor high walls and double-glazed windows absorb the sound. If you are on a dinner date with your special one then it’s highly recommended that you take one of the window seats which offer breath-taking views across the whole of the city. Hong Kong sparkles at night, and dining at Tosca gives you the feeling that you are dining on a floating cloud. Either that, or the unusual feeling that you are dining inside a posh spacecraft! It’s an experience like no other restaurant can offer anywhere else in the whole of this city- and that is equally important as the presentation of the dish you are about to tuck into.
Each dish has a matching wine that goes with it- not that they tried to get a journalist drunk on the night, but because this is the trend that the vast majority of the high end market restaurants are operating on.
I commenced with a lovely presented dish of Alaska king crab accompanied with a healthy portion of avocado and cous cous salad with Sorrento citrus. The perfect thing about these three dishes was that you could hardly taste the oil or the spices in them. The strong flavours of the real ingredients such as the sea bass and the avocado. When food gets to this level of sophistication, its all about presentation, looks, and the architecture of the layout. Nothing short of sheer perfection should touch your tongue. You just gotta love the way the avocado jazzes up the taste buds on your tongue as you take each bite. The most important thing to remember is that the combination of every flavour within a dish, as well as the combination of the dish with the wine (in this case was Franciacorta Brut, Majolini) has to be exceptional to the minute perfection.
If health was a key question to the heart of each dish, then the answers would be beautiful provided by the taste of all the flavours of the next dish. A lovely brash of eggplant surrounded with an arse-kicking decoration of homemade ravioli with a dash of shellfish sauce. Bright yellow colours of the ravioli dominates the presence. Excuse the pun, but you know when Lucarirllo is on fire in his kitchen. Native Neapolitans would feel exceedingly homesick, and while tucking into their dish may (for a moment), even have an illusion that they are on the shores of Sorrento rather than at the highest Italian eatery in the world in Hong Kong. The accompanying wine was Pinot Grigio, Sot Lis Rivislsonzo Rive Alte Ronco del Gelso.
Those who are familiar with the Hong Kong culinary scene would be aware of the passion and delight with which Lucariello put his heart and mind into all his meals. Lucariello personally loves the toasted Frisella bread with preserved high quality tuna with capers, olives, tomato, and Mediterranean oregano.
Lucariello had one final surprise for me. Just as I made my way towards the open kitchen to take photos after finishing my grilled Mediterranean Sea bass, I managed to have a small chat about his work at The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong. Understandably, it’s difficult to get hold of the great man during rush hour as he is running the action-packed show for his dinars. ‘Did you enjoy your surprise meal, Sir?’ he asked while pointing his highly prized hand at one of the sample dishes. ‘I did, thank you, Sir’. I replied. To which the chef responded with the words, ‘OK, watch this, now!’ Then amazingly out of nowhere, suddenly he got hold of an empty plate, and then quickly whisked some chocolate ice-cream mixture right in front of my eyes. He then blended it with some rum, and another secret ingredient. The result was a ridiculously delicious chocolate ice cream generously sprinkled with rich chocolate flakes. It was nothing short of being a gorgeous delight for the tongue. The ability to quickly think on your feet and be able to create something healthy, appetizing, and attractive to both the stomach and the the eye is a skill which not many chefs possess. I would say that the award-winning Lucariello even surpasses this. But then again, what else would I have expected from one of the best chefs around in Asia’s World city?
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