No trip to Hong Kong is complete without visiting the best restaurants with a view. The list may run long, with rooftop bars and tall hotel skyscraper restaurants dotted across the city, but finding a venue which successfully sates the appetite while peering over top-notch views can be trickier. Aqua Hong Kong does just that—perched atop the iconic One Peking building which towers over the skyline. Typically a celebratory drinks spot, the restaurant and bar is also famed for its exquisite selection of Japanese- and Italian-inspired dishes. Cha Siu Papers Times took a trip into the clouds to try Aqua’s Golden Ticket dinner, a promotional menu which was relaunched due to popular demand.
Located in Tsim Sha Tsui’s One Peking building, Aqua is nestled one floor above its sister establishment Hutong. The low-lit, romantic mood lighting invites guests in with a sleek ambience, complemented by the floor-to-ceiling windows peering over the harbourfront. Although it can seem intimidating upon entry, the restaurant is in fact very welcoming and staff are happy to cater to your every need. Whether you pick a table by the window, or in a cosy booth just behind the front-seaters, you’ll witness the view nonetheless. Eager to try the food to see if it was as impressive as the view, we perched ourselves at the window seat and started our evening with a refreshing glass of bubbly.
Combining two well-loved cuisines—Japanese and Italian fare
Back by popular demand, Aqua’s Golden Ticket menu is a seasonal winning feat, celebrated for its unique interpretations on both Italian and Japanese dining. Some traditionalists may shake heads at such a combination, but at Aqua, the refined calibrations of the nouvelle cuisine propels to delight and excite through its innovative dishes—paired with the champers (or wine, if you please).
Sashimi, stone-grilled beef & truffle tagliolini
The Golden Ticket Menu (HK$688 per person) showcases six signature dishes from its two kitchens—Aqua Kyoto and Aqua Roma. Having visited Aqua before for drinks, this was my first dining experience at the viewpoint, and I intrigued to learn whether the chefs were as talented as the in-house bartenders. The menu was updated with a new ingredient embedded in some of the dishes—musky truffle.
We had the add-on free-flow Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label NV (additional HK$300 per person) to sip on throughout the tasting, an indulgent touch to add to the high-in-the-sky setting. Our evening fell on a rainy day so the views couldn’t be showcased in all its glory—an unprecedented event which of course, didn’t affect the meal.
Starting the meal with a fine selection of sashimi, we first feasted our eyes on the gourmet platter—a mix of classic Japanese raw fish. The two-person portion comprised of Botan Ebi, salmon and hamachi sashimi, served with seared scallop with Oscetra caviar oshi sushi. Besides its pretty presentation, the sashimi dish brought a pleasing, refreshing start to the set meal, exhibiting Aqua’s taste for Japanese delights.
It may seem an unlikely combination to follow up sushi with Italian cold cuts, but Aqua’s unexpected pairing deems tasteful, if it’s your kind of thing. Upon closer inspection, there are subtle similarities between the platters—from its ice-cool temperature to the meaty/fishy selection—hence, it somehow works. The Italian antipasto is piled with generous cuts of cold parma ham and salami, with Sorrento-style burrata, roasted vegetables, and olives.
Swiftly back to Japanese cuisine, the next dish was a simple yet obvious favourite amongst dumpling enthusiasts. Crispy on the outside, and soft and juicy on the inside, the pan-fried pork gyozas made a scrumptious in-between snack prior to the upcoming mains—alongside the truffle soy sauce dip.
The vegetarian-friendly porcini mushroom and artichoke risotto was a flavourful dish topped with crispy cassava and sweet potato. I’m personally not a big risotto fan, but the creamy texture of the sauce combined with the soft rice gave it a well-paired taste.
Pasta dishes never lack in popularity, pretty much worldwide. So with a reputation to live up to, Aqua’s menu juggles between Italian and Japanese fare to impress its well-healed gourmands—and so next, the taglioni was on the cards. The homemade pasta was smothered in a rich, egg yolk-like sauce, lending a rich and creamy flavour enhanced with its buttery macadamia nuts, and reimagined with the slightest hint of black truffle caviar. Aqua’s adaptation of the traditonal, homecooked classic, resulted in an expertly-tampered, curious dish which tingled the taste buds. We do think it would have been perfect if another ingredient was sprinkled in—perhaps some crispy pancetta or tender diced mushrooms.
As one of the more interactive courses, Aqua’s BBQ stone-grilled beef tenderloins is a crowd-favourite, and that’s not just because of its engaging set up. The tenderloin is sliced thickly, allowing guests to pick their cuts based on personal preference—generally, the thicker slices were less tender. We cooked each piece on the traditional grill, laying one-at-a-time at about 20-30 seconds per slice. After freshly-charring the beef, we dipped it in the accompanying sour soy sauce to bring out the barbecue flavour.
Arriving on a sleek stone slab, the pan-fried Dover sole was the last savoury dish, yet unfortunately, was a miss for me. The champagne and Oscetra caviar sauce was not prominent enough to hinder the fishy taste of the sole, while the glazed heirloom carrots seemed a bit random without other vegetables to match. On the side, the black seafood arancini, however, made a unique and complementary pairing to the headstrong fish.
Throughout the meal, our glasses were topped up with free-flow bubbly.
Dessert is an equally-decadent treat, a plate of Aqua’s best sweet indulgences including chocolate-coated strawberries, crème brûlée, and macarons, to name a few.
The intriguing combination of Italian and Japanese cuisine at Aqua takes gourmands on an international culinary journey from start to finish. With the relaunched Golden Ticket dinner, guests can indulge in the best of the seasonal favourites, while seesawing from Italian to Japanese dishes at each course—one which ebbs and drifts effectively.
Aqua, 29+30F, One Peking, Peking Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, +852 3427 2288, aqua.com.hk