20 September, 2015

Sky 726 - A decadent treat !

“Gourmandise is an impassioned, rational and habitual preference for all objects that flatter the sense of taste.” - Jean-Antheleme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826)

There was a time when restaurants were frequented by diners purely on the basis of the food being served there.  There still are a few establishments that hold on to that basis but overall, if one were to give the Food and Beverage Industry a long, good look, the industry has come a long way from just resting on the laurels of good food.  Restaurants and food establishments have evolved, and how!  They’ve moved forward from titillating just the sense of taste onto newer, more demanding frontiers – those of finely balancing the art of stimulating and appealing to all five senses that humans are endowed with.

Little did we realize that it was going to be a delight on so many counts, when we walked into Sky 726 on Saturday last.  It was presumably a new restaurant, a Kitchen and Bar concept which automatically implied an open kitchen and bar.  The first hint of an all round experience manifested itself as the elevator doors opened onto the top floor of the building where the restaurant is housed.  The moment the lift doors opened, subdued hints of music floated through the air as we took in the visual panorama that Sky 726 had to offer. 

Once we were settled into our table for the evening, we took in the finer details that have gone into making Sky 726 what it is.  An oil painting added a bold splash of color to the place which is otherwise done up in subdued hues of base colors.  Later we learnt from the hosts, that the crystal chandelier embedded into the wall, had been put into place crystal by crystal. 

The bar, impressively well stocked, sits right in the middle of the establishment and is a treat for the visual sense.  The chief bartender made it quite obvious that he loves what he does; mixing and churning up cocktails while he moved to the rhythm of the music, exhibiting the passion and zest he has for his profession. 

Our four course dinner started with a fresh garden salad which was served with a refreshingly light balsamic vinaigrette.  Foodies that we are, we’ve patronized many an establishment in HK.  In many places, the one thing that has stood out consistently is the overkill on the salad, either in terms of too many components battling for attention on the palate or in terms of a salad dressing that’s so heavy that it completely takes over and overwhelms the taste buds.  Sky 726 dished up a lovely salad - fresh crisp organic greens consisting of a variety of lettuce for the crunch, some rocket for the zing with finely sliced cherry radish and cherry tomatoes adding a splash of bright color and sweetness.  The topping of toasted slivers of almonds, completed the bouquet of textures and tastes that the salad brought with it.

The salad which set the taste buds tingling with that refreshing vinaigrette  was followed by a hot minestrone. A light, herby tomato base, loaded with chunky vegetables, the soup was delightful.  The kitchen had made sure that the soup wasn’t loaded with sodium or overly spiced, thus letting the natural flavors of the vegetables seep through into every spoonful.

There was a good variety of entrées on the menu that night.  I opted for the Organic Chicken Breast rolled in vegetables, served on a bed of pumpkin puree, studded with pickled pearl onions which added a bit of crunch and sourness to the sweetness of the puree.  Never before have I had such moist, tender chicken ever.  Slow cooked, sous vide the chicken breast was stuffed with blanched spinach which added to its taste and texture.  The smooth pumpkin puree, on which the chicken breast rested, was the perfect accompaniment to the plate - smooth and creamy.

In the meanwhile, Vic opted for the Seafood Pesto Pasta which was equally lovely to look at, with the aroma of fresh pesto wafting tantalizingly from the plate.  The dish was liberally topped with pan seared prawns and the sear on the prawns looked absolutely perfect.  It did apparently taste awesome too because well, I wasn’t as much as offered a single prawn!!  Vic chose to wave those perfectly seared prawns in front of my eyes before treating himself to that gastronomic delight.

Both the entrées were outstanding.  Yet again, the chef scored big with letting the natural flavors of the dish speak, without being overwhelmed by salt or spices. 

After having our palate sufficiently aroused, we opted for a Panna Cotta for dessert.

Panna Cotta literally means “cooked cream” in Italian and is one of the mainstays of Italian cooking tradition.  We loved the twist the chef added to the panna cotta both, in terms of taste and presentation.  Traditionally, Panna Cotta is served unmolded, on a plate.  The chef here had chosen to serve the Panna Cotta in the goblet in which it had been set.  Whilst being set, the goblet had been tilted, to add a lovely angle to the Panna Cotta, which was then complemented by a mix of berries.  The extension to the taste came from the Baileys Irish Cream that had been poured over the berries.  The end result was a lusciously creamy dessert that brought the entire course as close to being divine as possible.  It simply hit the spot.

Like I said before, we’ve frequented many a restaurant all over HK and there have been times when the food has been great but the service has left much to be desired.  That’s another area where Sky 726 stands out.  The team at Sky 726 is such a wonderfully motivated, driven one.  

The entire crew working in tandem with the chef, the bartender and the manager reminded me of a scene from Robert Brownings, “The Pied Piper of Hamelin”.  
“So munch on, crunch on, take your nuncheon, breakfast, supper, dinner, luncheon!  And just as a bulky sugar-puncheon, all ready staved, like a great sun shone glorious scarce an inch before me.”

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