It started eighteen years ago when the first aqua opened. It proved so popular that today Aqua Restaurant Group has grown to over 25 venues spanning Hong Kong, London and Beijing. And we visited where it all began.
The venue hosted several dining concepts under one roof – Italian and Japanese cuisines intertwined with a nightspot and über-chic cocktail bar. You are not sure if you are there for dinner, a drink or just to chill with the beautiful people of HK.
We ordered food from both sections – first impression, the Italian food section looked like the classics, while the Japanese section looked more bold and innovative. Nevertheless we ordered an appetiser from each section, and a main from the Italian and sushi from the Japanese section.
1/ Zucchini flower stuffed with mozzarella and port wine 意大利青瓜花天婦羅伴芝士配波特酒醬
This is a summer staple in Italy, and in aqua, they used the female zucchini plant. (See next section on how to differentiate the male and female zucchini flowers.) They were coated with a light batter and fried like tempura. Loved them on their own, did not understand the port wine sauce that came with the zucchini flowers though. It’s like ketchup with port, but the combination was really weird. Would rather have the traditional dip for tempura.
Squash blossoms are the edible flowers of Cucurbita species, particularly Cucurbita pepo, the species that produces zucchini, marrow, spaghetti squash, and many other types of squash. In Great Britain they are called courgette flowers.
The female zucchini flower has a short stem and three parts that are collectively called the pistil. If you look inside a female flower, you’ll see the stigma that receives the male pollen. The stigma sits atop the style connected to the ovary that looks like a miniature zucchini. If you slice the ovary open with a knife, you see its ovules that will develop into seeds. As the ovary grows into a small zucchini on a fertilized female flower, the yellow blossom will remain in place for a while before dropping off.
There are typically three male zucchini flowers for every female flower. The male flowers are larger than their female counterparts and grow on longer stems. The male flower appears first. If you look inside the male flower, you’ll see the stamen that produces the yellow pollen. The stamen is composed of an anther, covered with the pollen, sitting atop a filament. When a browsing bee bumps against the anther, the pollen sticks to tiny hairs on its body. The bee transfers the pollen to a female stigma as it continues on its way.
Here’s a recipe to make zucchini flower with stuffed mozzarella.
2/ Tataki platter 創作壽司拼盤
7 different types of fresh seafood rolled in finely hand sliced cucumber sheets, this is the signature platter in aqua.
It may be pricey, but the variety and quality was very good. I especially liked the way they used sliced cucumber instead of seaweed to make the gunkan. The two surprises were the foie gras and the wagyu. I definitely recommend ordering this if you have a couple of people to share the portion.
- Taraba crab with tobiko sushi 鱈場蟹配飛魚子壽司 (not pictured)
- Ikura with caviar 三文鱼卵黑鱼子寿司
- Fatty tuna sushi with caviar 大吞拿魚腩配黑魚子壽司
- Grilled foie gras sushi 鹽燒鹅肝壽司
- Grilled wagyu beef with garlic and spring onion 鹽燒和牛伴芽葱壽司
- Botan prawn Sushi 牡丹蝦壽司
- Uni Sushi 海膽壽司
3/ Grilled Japanese organic baby eggplant miso Dengaku 日式茄子母樂伴豉醬
Don’t be deceived by the photo, the eggplant was about the size of a Yakult bottle. the Miso Dengako was too sweet for my liking, but the plating was really Instagrammable. Not recommended.
Miso Dengaku (味噌田楽) is a miso glazed dish, and popular ingredients for this recipe include tofu, eggplant, daikon, and konnyaku. Most of the ingredients are all vegetarian/vegan, but sometimes white fish is used for miso dengaku, and it’s called Gyoden (魚田) or Fish Dengaku.
Miso Dengaku has been around since 1500’s. The name dengaku comes from dengaku boshi (田楽法師), a stilt dancer who performed for the god of rice field during rice planting. Since the skewered tofu resembles dengaku boshi, the dish started to be called Miso Dengaku.
Sweet miso glaze caramelized under the oven, the tender eggplant and flavorful miso is a match in heaven. When eggplants are cooked, they absorb and trap all the delicious flavours.
4/ Fassona tenderloin, bone marrow croquette, artichoke purée and porcini 意大利牛柳配吉烈牛骨髓,新鮮朝鮮薊醬及牛肝菌
It was one of the most tender piece of beef from a grass-fed breed I have every eaten. And it was paired with a really tasty artichoke mash and grilled porcini mushrooms. But the piece de resistance was the bone marrow croquette. Once you cut into the croquette, you can see the soft bone marrow ooze out deliciously.
Fassone or Razza Piemontese is a breed of cattle used for centuries to provide meat, milk and labour. The pasture-grazing cows provide rich milk, which is used in the local cheeses – Castelmagno, Bra, Raschera and Tome, and until the introduction of tractors, these useful animals did much of the manual work too. But it is the meat that these cattle produce which sets them apart from other breeds.
Today, the Piedmontese breed produces a high quality meat called Fassone – tender, lean and low in fat but high nutritional quality (unsaturated fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6) and a very low cholesterol level (just think that does not exceed that found in most fish, 48-60 mg / 100g depending on the cuts). The Piemontese is an excellent Italian breed and is a native breed, meaning that all of them are born and raised in Italy. They have a naturally developed condition that allows their muscles to grow to almost double the size – providing larger and juicier steaks. So rather than just growing fat, the ‘double muscles’ create meat which is leaner and softer for a more tender texture.
aqua is famous for their signature dessert platter that included 5 choices that the chef would put together. But we could not eat too much, so we settled for a little tangy and not too sweet raspberry sorbet with a panna cotta. Instagrammable, but not memorable.
What We Really Like About Aqua
The beauty of Hong Kong’s skyline is simply indisputable. The distinctive Bank of China building towers above the Victoria Harbour skyline. The city that never sleeps. Perched on the top floor of One Peking on the Kowloon side, aqua allows diners to indulge in the harbour view.
With high ceilings, romantic light fixtures and über-chic decor, couples can enjoy the tables by the window where they get a front-row view of the stunning view at a price. Yes, there’s a minimum charge for that privilege. For peasants like us, we can set one level up and enjoy the view regardless.
And fortune seemed to smile at us that evening. It poured cats and dogs and so all the extra that you would be paying for that view came to nought.
Recommended for tourists and couples. Food was good but not spectacular. The view and the atmosphere were the selling point. Service was attentive but intrusive so you can have your private discussions.
29 + 30F
Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Tel : +852 3427 2288
Date Visited : Aug 2018