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Oysters with a view

Updated: 2012-08-04 07:45
By Pauline D. Loh ( China Daily)

 Oysters with a view

Oyster and Wine Bar's seafood platter is a feast for both the eyes and the mouth. Provided to China Daily

It's a platter of marine delights that would do Paris proud, but the panoramic view of Victoria Peak and the famous harbor is proof that it's much nearer home. Pauline D. Loh samples the champagne and seafood.

Right at the top of the Sheraton Hotel and Towers in Hong Kong is a long corridor of restaurants that take advantage of the view outside the windows. And right at the end of that is the hotel's famous Oyster and Wine Bar.

It offers a lot more than shellfish and wine, of course, and is a showcase of arguably the best seafood in town.

An oyster bar with a selection that takes you right round the world and back gives you a taste of both Atlantic and Pacific shellfish, with some from Down Under as well. Hong Kong imports its seafood all year round, taking its pick of the best of the seasons from both hemispheres.

The natural, painless choice is to opt for the generously tiered layers of the seafood platter. If you go for dinner, the bistro board will also be brought to you, and a server will patiently explain the chef's picks of the day to you.

White asparagus was in season when I took my mother to dinner that night, so we ordered a velvety veloute that was flavorful and so delicious we wanted more. But then our seafood platter arrived.

It was a feast for both the eyes and the mouth. Oysters, scampi, king prawns, whelk, scallops, mussels and salmon sashimi with flying fish roe formed an edible mosaic that had our gastric juices rumbling in anticipation.

Little bowls of tart red-wine vinegar with chopped shallots, creamy homemade tartar sauce and a platter of lemon wedges were all the seasoning we needed.

We started with the oysters of course, and each was briny and sweet and bore no trace that it had traveled far to reach our table.

The mussels were rimmed with bright orange roe, and the prawns cooked just right.

Keeping a prawn crisp and sweet is a kitchen secret that is hard to master. Many a seafood platter has been laden with overcooked prawns that end up like "tasteless boiled tapioca, mushy and tasting of damp sawdust", according to the mater.

She was happy with her lobster as well, and pointed out that the coral in the head was cleanly cooked and not left liquid. I was too busy extracting meat from the whelks and enjoying their sea-salt sweetness. Dipping them into the red wine vinaigrette was just gilding the lily.

Oysters with a view

Seafood and sparkling wines is a natural match, and we ordered two glasses of French champagne. The Oyster and Wine Bar has a good selection to suit all pockets.

One of the best side dishes when you dine here in the evening is the fabulous neon display that lights up Victoria Harbor at 8 pm. It's a sight that always moves me, and makes me reconsider if I should move back to Hong Kong.

It's just colored lights running up and down buildings, a wide expanse of water and a cityscape that changes every year. But it's Hong Kong, and there's just something about this city that draws the adventurous and the sentimental.

And when you are enjoying good food and fine wine as well as the view, it takes on magical proportions.