17 February 2016

The new place to party, eat and be merry

The new place to party, eat and be merry
The dining room in Armani/Aqua is warmly lit with dark wood accents. Provided to China Daily

Hong Kong 

It's hip. It's cool. It's one of those places to see and to be seen. This is the stunning new joint venture between Aqua Group and Giorgio Armani.

There are actually two venues here, Armani/Prive and Armani/Aqua, in this elegantly designed space in Chater House. With the cooler temperatures, Armani/Priv is a perfect location to enjoy a luscious cocktail selected just for you by award-winning mixologist Manuel Soro. The signature cocktails are the Wasabi green apple martini and the Lollipop caipirinha. The fresh white peach Bellini is also a very tasty and refreshing option.

Armani/Prive boasts a 465 square meter outdoor terrace that affords jaw-dropping views of the cityscape surrounding you. Below is the 279-square-meter lounge where guests can party into the wee hours. Sleek and sophisticated in red and black, Armani/Priv in the heart of Central hosts many who are there for a post-work drink.

After a drink on the terrace, head down to Armani/Aqua which serves Aqua's contemporary Italian and Japanese specialties. The candle-lit entrance to Armani/Aqua is a wide, mirrored hallway leading to large dark sliding doors. It's a very dramatic entrance and one that sets the tone for the dining experience ahead.

The dining area is warmly lit with dark wood accents everywhere. The decor has an East meets West vibe with lots of black, red and yellow.

The food at Armani/Aqua: Italian and Japanese dishes served in tandem, not as fusion dishes. The Italian dishes are simple and traditional recipes served with modern flair. The authentic Japanese dishes are not as traditional, but are also served with the same flair with emphasis on fresh ingredients and elegant presentation.

Signature dishes include: pan-fried scampi tails paired with cantaloupe melon, executive chef Ernesto Tonetto's homemade pasta envelopes filled with Italian sausage, charcoal-grilled Angus rib eye with sweet soy and mirin essence, sea bream and asparagus with black truffle fresh mango, and grilled Hiroshima oyster with black truffle and sea-urchin glaze.

As Armani/Aqua is a joint venture with Giorgio Armani, the Italian food had to meet his high standards. I was most impressed with the tortelli pasta dish I sampled. The fresh-made pasta parcels stuffed with smoked ricotta cheese were cooked just right and the fresh cherry tomatoes they were served made the perfect simple accompaniment.

The Japanese dishes were beautifully plated and delicately flavored. Though I enjoyed all the food, I preferred the Italian dishes at this welcome new addition to the dining scene in Central. But I've had a love affair with pasta since childhood, and carbs aren't for everyone.