Amber (Hong Kong)

Amber
The Landmark Mandarin Oriental Hotel 7/F
11-19A Queen’s Road Central
Hong Kong
Dining date: 2/15/18

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Amber is a two Michelin starred restaurant at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental. Currently ranked #24 in the world’s 50 best restaurants list, it’s one of the most highly-regarded Western restaurants in Hong Kong. Here, chef Richard Ekkebus cooks modern French cuisine incorporating plenty of seasonal Asian ingredients. Given the vast majority of my meals in town have been Chinese, I elected to have one non-Asian lunch.

The restaurant offers a weekday lunch set menu of 3 of 4 courses (USD $76, $125), as well as a lunch degustation menu of 4 or 6 courses ($164, $189). The items on the degustation menu sounded much more interesting, so I opted for the 4-courser.

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Yan Toh Heen (Hong Kong)

Yan Toh Heen
Intercontinental Hong Kong
18 Salisbury Road
Hong Kong
Dining date: 2/12/18

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Yan Toh Heen is a two Michelin star restaurant inside Hong Kong’s Intercontinental Hotel. The restaurant serves upscale Chinese cuisine featuring dim sum for lunch. I’ve had two upscale dim sum lunches in Hong Kong in a prior visit (Lung King Heen and T’ang Court), but this would be my first time here. The restaurant is located on the ground level of the hotel featuring plenty of harbor views.

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Lazy Bear (San Francisco, CA)

Lazy Bear
3416 19th St
San Francisco, CA 94110
Dining date: 11/24/17

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Lazy Bear is one of San Francisco’s most unique dining experiences. The restaurant began as an underground supper club in chef David Barzelay’s home; it was wildly successful and became one of the toughest seats in town. The success led to this brick-and-mortar location in 2014. Two Michelin stars later, the restaurant is still going strong.

The evening begins with cocktail hour on the second floor mezzanine. Guests are invited to mingle, sip on a cocktail, and enjoy a few small bites. After cocktail hour, dinner shifts downstairs where there are two large 40-seat communal tables. An open kitchen anchors one end of the tables, providing a close look at the food as it’s being prepared.

We managed to get tickets here for the day after Thanksgiving.

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Marea (New York, NY) [2]

Marea
240 Central Park S
New York, NY 10019
Dining date: 6/9/17

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I’ve been to Michael White’s seafood-focused Italian restaurant once a couple of years ago. I recall having a good meal there; in particular, there were some memorable pastas. The restaurant is known to have some of the best pastas in town, which was one of the primary reasons for returning (another was that it was so close to the hotel on an evening with scattered thunderstorms). The restaurant still holds two Michelin stars and is still one of the busiest fine dining establishments in the city.

While a la carte and custom tasting menus are an option, I imagine most people go with the 4-course prix fixe at $102 for dinner. That menu offers a lot of variety – diners can choose from almost any appetizer, pasta, main and dessert for that price. That’s exactly what we did here.

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The Modern (New York, NY)

The Modern
9 W 53rd St
New York, NY 10019
Dining date: 9/24/16

The Modern

This was my first time dining at The Modern, which just re-opened a day prior after a full kitchen remodel. The restaurant’s been abuzz in the last year, as one of the most prominent NYC restaurants to move away from tipping (they call it “hospitality-included”), a pricing model that many others are contemplating. The restaurant also garnered two Michelin stars in the 2016 guide, an elevation from its previous one-star status over the past few years.

The current dining room menu offers four courses for $158 and a $208 eight-course tasting (the bar serves a more casual a la carte menu). I went with the four-courser after having a late lunch at Xi’an Famous Foods earlier in the day.

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Daniel (New York, NY)

Daniel
60 E 65th St.
New York, NY 10065
Dining date: 9/10/15

Daniel

Daniel Boulud is one of America’s most notable chef/restaurateurs with 16 restaurants in 4 countries around the world. I’ve tried a few of his restaurants with mixed thoughts, feeling like he’s spread himself fairly thin. However, I’ve always wanted to try Restaurant Daniel – Boulud’s flagship restaurant in New York City.

Since opening in 1993, Daniel has been regarded as one of the top restaurants in the city. Recently, the restaurant has lost some of its top accolades. It started in 2013 with a downgrade in the NY Times from four stars to three. Food critic Pete Wells cited very different dining experiences between the restaurant’s regulars/VIPs and other customers. Last year, Michelin dropped Daniel from the three-star ranks to two, something it re-affirmed in the latest 2015 guide. Michelin referred to inconsistency and a decline in food quality. Less importantly, the restaurant also dropped for the fifth straight year in the world’s best restaurants list, a precipitous drop of 40 spots down to #80 in 2015.

I was very indecisive on whether to invest a meal at Daniel. Would I be trying a restaurant on the downhill? Or a restaurant with a renewed focus on its food and service?

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