For over a decade, the top-most floor of The Upper House – the Admiralty-set five-star hospitality hotspot – was occupied by Cafe Grey Deluxe, the hotel’s all-day dining venue. At the end of 2020, however, it shuttered its doors for good and, in April, was reborn as Salisterra, a Mediterranean-inspired fine-dining establishment.
Boasting picturesque panoramas across Victoria Harbour, the new eatery is helmed by London-based, Michelin-starred Chef Jun Tanaka, with its everyday operations overseen by Chef de Cuisine Chris Czerwinski. As one might expect, opening a restaurant with an ongoing pandemic was a serious challenge. Explaining these obstacles, Czerwinski says: “With Chef Jun based in London and travel restrictions firmly in place, we had to open without his ever having tasted any of Salisterra’s dishes in person. It took a lot of Zoom conferences and frantic exchanges to make it happen.”
“Nevertheless, the end result is something we’re truly proud of,” he continues, “and we strive to serve authentic Mediterranean-inspired flavours that showcase iconic dishes from the coastal regions of France and Italy.”
Eager to sample this culinary philosophy for ourselves, we tucked into our tasting menu with much anticipation. First to arrive was a cold appetiser of Flamed Saba Mackerel, a beautifully plated dish featuring six delicate slivers of fish garnished with refreshing pickled cucumbers and capers.
Next to arrive was one of the restaurant’s signature dishes, the Langoustine Ravioli. This is, as Chef Czerwinski explained, a true labour of love, with the jus of the shellfish requiring hours upon hours to reduce to just the right consistency and condensed flavour, with the ravioli pasta also made fresh in-house daily. Within each dumpling lies a full langoustine and paired with a lush scallop mousse, with tart tomatoes balancing the dish’s oceanic accents.
Then, the Pickled Carrots with Coconut Yoghurt hoved into view. In a city as meat-obsessed as Hong Kong, it’s unusual to be served a vegetarian dish as a main course, but it definitely did not disappoint. Here, the slices of pickled carrots – all grown and harvested from The Upper House’s own organic garden – pack quite a visual punch, all purples, oranges and yellows. Hidden underneath is the coconut yoghurt, whose sweet creaminess perfectly ties in with the crunchiness of the carrots. A sprinkle of fried garlic, meanwhile, bequeaths the dish with a lovely umami finish.
Scarcely had we finished when the next course Market Fish with Lemon Confit, Miso, Fennel and Radish – arrived tableside. Yet another of Salisterra’s signatures and a quintessential example of Mediterranean cuisine, the whole grilled snapper is heaped with thinly sliced slivers of pickled radish and turnips. A great sharing platter, local diners who prefer their seafood steamed or subtly flavoured may find it unusual. Nonetheless, it’s a refreshing, light main that leaves a strong impression.
Finally, with our appetites nearly satiated, we concluded our tasting with a beautiful Fresh Strawberry Tartlette. Unlike the savoury part of the menu, this is truly rich decadence at its very finest, with the pastry filled with creme de patisserie, topped with a tartly sweet strawberry gel and capped with a white chocolate mousse. The attraction of this dessert is that – thanks to its disparate parts – every bite tastes slightly different, making each mouthful something of a gastronomic adventure. The accompanying scoop of strawberry sorbet is a deft addition, cutting through the tartlette’s richness with aplomb.
Salisterra. 49/F, The Upper House, 88 Queensway, Admirality. (852) 3968 1106. salisterra.thehousecollective.com