The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Exquisite French @ Le Jardin de Joël Robuchon, Hong Kong

Being big fans of the French food at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon, we were delighted when we were invited by our Hong Kong relatives to dine at Le Jardin de Joël Robuchon during our HK trip. L'Atelier at The Landmark, like the one in Roppongi (Tokyo), is a 2 Michelin stars restaurant with a similar theme, and Le Jardin is located within the same space but offers a more private dining experience. Shortly after we entered the restaurant, it became clear that Rob's aunt C and her husband L regularly frequent this restaurant because the waitstaff and sommelier were on very familiar terms with them. This is in fact L's favourite restaurant, and he has been to several of Robuchon's restaurants in other countries, including the one in Tokyo. Can you imagine the green envy welling up in me when they mentioned they have met the award-winning French chef himself and had photos taken with him? Anyway, I was stoked to have the opportunity to expand my Robuchon experience outside of Tokyo.

I adore the cool interior design and earthy colour scheme of L'Atelier. It had the same counter-style seats surrounding an open kitchen as the restaurant in Tokyo, but this Hong Kong restaurant space was larger, with room for a more formal dining area known as Le Jardin (the garden), and a private room. We enjoyed our meal in the formal area, where there was a more intimate atmosphere than the main dining room. Service was very good, and we were indeed honoured to be treated to such luxury. It was here that I had my first glass (or two) of the nicest champagne (Dom Perignon 2000) - I didn't know champagne could taste so good! And you wouldn't have guessed that I actually have a form of alcohol allergy with the glass of red Henschke Hill of Grace (1990) I also had with my meal. I actually don't like drinking alcohol nor its effects (especially with that said allergy), but if all champagnes and reds tasted like the ones I had that night, then I could probably enjoy "wine appreciation" a little better. Unfortunately I don't have the finance nor the nose for picking out a good bottle, so I'd probably be suffering more misses than hits, literally.

The food was delicious and very well executed, which we quite honestly expected from a restaurant of this calibre. While waiting for our food to arrive, we were offered a variety of bread in a basket, and this basket was brought to our table any time our bread plates sat empty during the meal. The bread were good, and it took some serious will-power to turn down more bread, but unfortunately I needed to leave room in my stomach for the food.

Bread galore! Chestnut swirl, spinach bread, onion & bacon crusty bread and a little croissant:

Amuse Bouche and Appetisers

The amuse bouche came out in a cute little shot glass, and was interesting both in flavour and texture: Foie Gras Mousse with Truffle Foam. The foam was airy and lightly flavoured with truffles, and the mousse was just full of the rich fatty flavour of the foie gras. I wanted more of it. Another item we enjoyed that was also mini-sized but huge on flavour was the Le Burger, a beef and foie gras burger with lightly caramelised bell peppers. Normally there would be two mini-sized burgers on the plate, but I'm glad that C requested one mini burger each because it was so rich that one mini-burger was plenty. Being a more casual-style dish, it is not actually on the Le Jardin menu, and is usually available only to the diners in the L'Atelier section of the restaurant. I guess it pays to be a valued regular customer when the restaurant is willing to bend the rules a little. L'Atelier's version of the burger meal was unique in several ways: the chips (fries) were deep-fried in duck fat, the tomato sauce (ketchup) was laced with ginger juice, and the foie gras added a hard-to-miss decadence to the burger.

For his appetiser, Rob followed L's recommendation and ordered La Langoustine, scampi raviolis with black truffle and foie gras sauce. The ravioli 'shell' was perfectly cooked and the scampi that sat within was deliciously fresh. The creamy truffle and foie gras sauce wasn't at all overpowering and complemented the ravioli quite well. I got the L'Asperge Blanche, which featured the ingredient of the season: white asparagus. It was served with Hokkaido sea urchin and hollandaise sauce. I'm quite certain the thin flakes of gold leaf sprinkled on top of the asparagus was purely for aesthetics, and it certainly didn't go unnoticed. I wonder if there is any good health benefits to eating gold. The white asparagus were huge and made a very substantial and delicious appetiser.

The scampi ravioli with black truffle and foie gras sauce; and white asparagus with sea urchin and hollandaise sauce:

Main Course

L's favourite meal at his favourite restaurant is the La Palette D'Agneau, braised lamb shoulder served with spring vegetables. The menu specified that it can serve two people, but C and L said that the size was more than plenty for three, and because Rob was also interested in it, they requested for the dish to be split in three portions. And my, they weren't kidding about how large the serving is. C said she was actually relieved when Rob said he would join them in sharing the dish. The lamb had been braised fork tender, and the meat was really juicy and moist. Not much gravy was used in this dish which allowed us to enjoy the good quality lamb in all its glory. I'm not a big fan of red meat, but this was really good.

I ordered the Le Saint-Pierre, grilled John Dory with Oscietra caviar and Château Chalon bouillon. This is a tasty white-fleshed fish that had been grilled crispy, topped with caviar (and gold leaf) and doused in a light sauce. The fish was perfectly cooked with a juicy texture, and the caviar was not as strong as I expected it to be. Delicious, especially with the impossibly creamy mash potatoes.


At this stage, everyone at the table was feeling the effects of what we'd been eating, and only Rob was game to order a dessert. He got La Boule Surprise, a 'surprise' chocolate ball with dacquois and caramel ice cream. A large chocolate ball arrived at the table, and the waitress declared, "Surprise!" as she poured a warm liqueur over it that melted the thin chocolate shell to reveal the caramel ice cream within. It was quite pretty to watch. We were also given Petit Fours that consisted of intensely-flavoured macarons, madeleine, chocolate nut cluster and fruit jelly cubes. These complimentary little confections were plenty good enough to end the meal on a sweet note without needing to order desserts.

Surprise chocolate ball; and petit fours:

As we were leaving, the girls were given a little something to take home: a loaf of Chocolate Fruit Cake each (it was delicious).

This was a really enjoyable dining experience, and I honestly can't fault any aspect of it. I hope to try Robuchon's 3 Michelin stars Le Chateau de Joël Robuchon before we leave Tokyo, and I hope to get an opportunity to dine at another 3 Michelin stars restaurant in Macau, Robuchon á Galera, when we're in Hong Kong again.


  1. Everything looks so yummy Jean! Hope you guys are enjoying your stay in HK.
    Adriana Tan

  2. Hi Adriana, we had a great time in HK, considering it was a 'business' trip. Four days was too short, but I still have a load of photos to blog about.. Hope you guys are well in Seoul!