We took our visiting guest chef friend ** Michelin Thierry Drapeau for Sunday yumcha here as he was curious what a *** Michelin Chinese restaurant in Asia was like. So, with four Michelin stars on the table, there was running commentary on every dish and its execution.
Service was disappointing. We waited 20mins for our bottle of Puligny Montrachet we ordered and when we were more than halfway through our meal, it arrived. When we asked politely after 15minutes we were answered with such aggression and authority to wait because the cellar was far away, we felt like 10 year olds in a classroom again.
We didn’t really need to know that you have to run up 39 floors to Robuchon to get the wines and there are plenty of ways in the service industry to buy time. *** Michelin star service? Not.
I have encountered intense racism (which this trip advisor thread confirms is all part of the experience) at the lovely *** L’Assiette Champenoise in Reims, so The Eight wasn’t too bad based on my personal experiences.
We ordered the dimsum classics and it was good, the charsiu sow BBQ pork pastry buns are sorely missed. We were recommended an equivalent that is nothing like it at all, a potato crisp roll filled with charsiu. Our bill for three came up to about 2600MOP+.
A couple of days later in the same week, my friend Fine Dining Explorer was in town from Hong Kong/London and was invited to The Eight, the PR kindly extended the invitation to me as well. Service was excellent and entirely different experience from my lunch 4 days before. We had several discussions about this and have the same approach towards invitations and paying our own way.
I take a clear stance on invitations in today’s social media equity driven economy. Anyone with a blog claims they are a “food blogger” and get free meals and don’t write honestly about their experiences because there’s no such thing as a free lunch, right?
It’s become the protocol and as a paying consumer, I sometimes feel very cheated of my hard earned money because it was falsely represented.
What I try to do to be fair and honest is to re-visit as a paying guest if the experience wasn’t the best before writing about it. I would rather not write about a poor experience to tear down a restaurant or hotel – everyone has business realities to deal with, especially in this industry where passionate people pour their heart and soul into their jobs.
From a PR standpoint, I just wished they were more strategic and mindful, the freeloaders tend to bring no conversion to business because their followers are unlikely to convert to consumers.
If anything, they aspire to the jet-setting freeloading life too. So, your ROI (return on investment) doesn’t improve unfortunately.
Clearly if it’s an invitation, your experience is most often better than if you’re an anonymous paying guest – so the review/blog post or whatever you post is inevitably biased.
Which isn’t wrong as long as you put a disclaimer – I get faultless fabulous service and food as a paying guest at my own husband’s restaurant – but because I am his wife, I inevitably get treated differently and admittedly I don’t trumpet about his work enough.
Enough of my rant, back to The Eight.
So, my lunch dégustation with Fine Dining Explorer was everything as I expected – although we had some high level MSG going on in some dishes which made us really thirsty. Growing up in a household where double boiled soup is cooked over charcoal over night, I was surprised that these days Fine Dining Explorer explains MSG is a normal seasoning in Chinese food from street food to fine dining.
I am a big fan of the pomelo roast chicken at Portas do Sol where we often go for dimsum, and I couldn’t tell if the difference in the level of execution from a no star restaurant to *** Michelin star dimsum.
Beautifully executed dimsum dishes that were equally tasty. And one of my favourite Hong Kong/Macau street food classic here, the “gold coin chicken”金錢雞 made luxurious take with foie gras, slab of pork belly sandwich without the bun (on the right below). Then there is the tasty bomb of layered textures from the crab fried rice with mock shark’s fin. We finished off with the recommended desserts.
I am not a big dessert person and only boring classics like a good chocolate fondant or millefueille wins my heart, I really don’t care for fancy and over the top new recipes, so I don’t have any constructive criticism here.
However, given the level of execution of the dimsum – have a look at this snowman, a *** Michelin dessert presentation doesn’t measure up to the same level of finesse, no? The bun texture tasted 5 years old and the custard filling sandy and disappointing. I had a small bite of this gelatinous – bordering on solid yin yang black sesame almond thingy. Not for me. I can’t remember if it was pudding or jelly as the consistency was too hard for pudding but too soft for agar agar.
Not sure what’s up with the Parsley, good on them for being sustainable and recycling the parsley everywhere for dish décor, but .. I think it’s excessive with my xiaolongbao, my taro, my charsiu bun? My egg tart mignardise? And my custard bun snowman dessert? Makes no sense from a flavour association standpoint and Chinese chefs are known for their knife skills and culinary kungfu so to keep putting parsley when you run out of ideas plating ….? oh dear. meow
One of my pet peeves are typos on menus and for a hosted lunch, you’d expect the effort, but I guess not as they couldn’t even be bothered to finish typing what was on the menu, much less worry about ledding and kerning alignment of text. “steamed whole crab with shrimps with stewed rice and….?”
Anyhow, to conclude is it worth the visit? Yes, the food is good but not mindblowing, the service inconsistent, the price is fair, the fabulous wine list amazing and the space is gorgeous. It is worth a visit. My friends however have had great experiences. You can read about them here and here.
2/F, Grand Lisboa
11:30 – 14:30 hrs (Mon – Sat)
10:00 – 15:00 hrs (Sun / Public Holidays)
18:30 – 22:30 hrs
Tel: +853 8803 7788