The Principal | Hong Kong


On my second stop of culinary tour this holiday season was The Principal! Located in the hip neighborhood of Star Street, the restaurant was easy to find as it was located right across from PP3. I made the reservation online on their own website which was very convenient as it will tell you immediately if they have space for your desired time and confirms your reservation on the spot.

As I walked toward the restaurant, I noticed their festive Christmas tree which fitted in rather nicely with their exterior design. 

The interior design was very simple and modern, which emitted a casual and relaxing dining atmosphere - allowing one to enjoy excellent food without feeling you have to act proper and uptight. Some restaurants may have the grand and opulent look without delivering on the food, but The Principal is just the opposite with a modest and understated decor but top-notch food. 
We were seated in a booth which can seat 4 comfortably. As there was only 2 of us, there was more than enough space. The set lunch here costs $290 for 2 courses, $340 for 3 courses, and $430 for 4 courses - pricey but on par with other restaurants of this calibre. We both picked the 3 courses lunch set with a starter, main, and dessert. 
After we placed our order, some bread was served along with some olive oil. We each got a piece of baguette and ciabatta, which were both hot in temperature. Just can't iterate enough how much I love hot bread! The baguette was crispy and chewy while the ciabatta was flavored. The olive oil was also very fragrant and flavorful as well. 

Before our food came, we were given some amuse bouche, which consisted of sardine on wonton and profiterole with truffle. The pickled sardine was tart and refreshing to eat along with the crispy wonton. The cream puff filled with truffle cream was aromatic and rich to devour. A very nice start for our meal!
Grilled Mackerel with Avocado, Radish, Seeds, Coriander (5/5) - the mackerel was nicely grilled as it was flaky and soft to eat. The flavors of the fish and the avocado were nicely balanced and complemented each other very well. The dish reminded us of a Japanese dish but enhanced with modern touches. A very nicely executed starter!

Lobster Bisque with Boston Lobster Ravioli (4/5) - the colors of this dish was gorgeous with the yellow foam and red/green garnishes! Beneath the foam was the ravioli and bisque. The single ravioli was huge with a good portion of lobster filling inside. The filling was very flavorful and rich while the ravioli skin was soft to eat. The lobster bisque was delicious as well - although the temperature could have been higher as it was a bit lukewarm for my taste.

Roasted Halibut and Cuttlefish with French Beans Emulsion (5/5) - both the halibut and cuttlefish were perfectly cooked as the textures were just right to eat. Initially the french beans emulsion seemed a bit too light in flavor for pairing with the halibut. However, it soon became apparent just how delicate the flavor of the fish was and the need for the emulsion to be light so as not to overpower the star. Another well thought-out dish!

Beef Short Rib with Roasted Carrots and Potato Mash (4/5) - the beef was very tender so it was easy to cut into. It had a good ratio of fat to meat, so the texture was soft and delicate to eat. The beef was well-marinated but slightly salty and there was no flavor of expresso as the waiter had described. The carrots, potato mash, onions and Brussels sprouts were all nicely prepared and went well with the beef short rib. 

Banana Cream with Caramel and Smoked Chocolate (3.5/5) - the desserts were not as impressive as the cooked food however. The presentation was also not as aesthetically pleasing. Each of the ingredients of this dessert tasted good but just felt like they were thrown together instead of being one cohesive dish. 

Raspberry Aero with Chocolate Cake and Frozen Yogurt (3.5/5) - this dessert just looked like a fruit bowl. The frozen yogurt sat on top of a very crumbly chocolate cake. Everything tasted good but nothing impressive. The only thing that stood out was the raspberry 'aero' that looked like sorbet at first but the texture was more like a soft rice cake. It was weird but interesting at the same time. 
Verdict - our dining experience at The Principal was excellent in general with its stellar food and wonderful presentation. Although a bit pricey, the creative flavors and good portions more than make up for it. The service was also outstanding as each dish was presented with detailed descriptions of what we were eating. The dishes were well-paced as well since we didn't have to wait long between each courses. It was a wonderful meal for us to conclude the year of 2013 and welcome 2014!

The Principal
G/F, 9 Star Street, Wan Chai
2563 3444

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