Gray Kunz is a chef with a long history in New York. His only restaurant in Asia, Café Gray Deluxe at the Upper House in Hong Kong, draws on his classical training, without being stubbornly traditionalist.
Born in Singapore, but raised in Switzerland Kunz’ training was very classical. Having spent years working with the country’s most famous chefs, and restaurants, he spent a significant amount of time with the legendary Freddy Girardet, before moving to New York to become one of the city’s most influential chefs. Restaurants such as Plume, and Lespinasse were at the top of their game, and New York continues to be the base for most of his activities. And yet, he came back to Asia to open Café Gray Deluxe.
Located on the top floor of the Upper House, the restaurant’s design is just as stunning as the rest of the property’s. Warm colours, clean lines, and of course, breathtaking views over the Victoria Harbour create the backdrop for the cuisine here. When it comes to the food, and service, there is a balance between several elements that would be expected of a fine dining establishment, mixed with others that are more relaxed, and casual.
The cuisine here draws on Kunz’ international experience, but essentially remains very classical: a beef tartar is beautifully seasoned, and served plainly. The flavours are bold, and plate is deeply satisfying. This is no overly fussy food, just classically prepared, well-executed soul-warming fare.
The same can be said for sea bass with leeks and truffles. The fish is timed with great precision, and set atop leeks, and a rich, creamy sauce. There is nothing light, or dainty about this, as the dish is all about the richly flavoured sauce, and its contrast with the subtlety of the fish. This is yet again carefully executed classical cooking.
Grilled quail comes with smoked foie gras, lentils, grapes and Armagnac. This makes for a dish that also delivers with bold flavours, and very capable execution. The combination of the smoke from the foie gras, the tender, juicy quail, sweetness from the grapes, and earthy lentils make for a very rewarding plate of food.
Café Gray Deluxe is no restaurant with unreasonable ambitions. Instead it delivers fully on flavour, on relaxed service, and a beautifully designed dining room. Topping things off with the stunning view, it is hard to find much to fault with this offering.