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

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Beautiful French dinner @ L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon, Hong Kong (revisit)

I love a good French meal, and I know just the place for it in Hong Kong! We are big fans of French chef Robuchon's restaurants, and we were delighted when hubby's aunt C and uncle L invited us out for dinner to L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon to celebrate hubby's upcoming birthday. I love this couple (probably my favourite of all my in-laws) - they are such genuine people and I have learnt a lot from them. We always have such a great time with them, and they always spoil us with good food. This was not our first visit to L'Atelier in HK, having lunched there for hubby's birthday last year, but that didn't dull our excitement at all. Our generous relatives had also treated us dinner three years ago at the exquisite Le Jardin, also at the same location but offering a more private and exclusive dining experience. L'Atelier is C's and L's favourite restaurant in Hong Kong, and they are familiar regulars, dining here once every few weeks - they even have a favourite table (which I'm sure they always manage to get seated at). They recently had the opportunity to dine at L'Atelier in Paris, but L says that the one in HK is still his favourite one, and I suppose that comes naturally with being regular customers for the past 6 or so years since the restaurant opened. I must admit that the atmosphere in L'Atelier HK is different to the one in Tokyo, somewhat more cozy and relaxed - though I'm sure that has something to do with the smaller space and quite different cultures. I can't wait to try out L'Atelier in Paris, where we have lunch reservations next month during our short summer vacation in France.

The lovely bread basket of crusty baguettes, cheesy rolls, bacon and onion twists, buttery mini-croissants, soft brioche and walnut rolls - just to name a few:

There are a lot to love about L'Atelier: the cool, sleek and earthy decor, the impeccable service, and of course the gorgeous food which is always lovely to behold and delicious to eat. I always look forward to the basket of assorted baked goodies served at the beginning of the meal, which is very difficult to resist, whether one is saving room in the stomach for the food to come, or supposed to be on some kind of low-carb/gluten-free diet. Thankfully I don't have any diet restrictions, but I was feeling pretty full by the time our second dishes arrived. There were a couple of set menus served during dinner at L'Atelier: the more affordably priced 4-course Menu Diner (HK$830), and the 8-course Menu Découverte (HK$1880), both comes with optional wine-pairing for extra cost. There were also the a-la-carte menu offering a delicious-sounding variety of small-tasting portions, appetisers, and fish and meat main courses. L mentioned that he always ordered three or four dishes from the small-tasting portions menu, and the rest of us followed suit. Everything on the menu looked good, and it took us some time to make our choices (while devouring the yummy bread). L and hubby ordered four dishes, and C and I opted for three items (though I actually wanted only two, but L insisted that I needed one more). The dishes were served in the order that allowed for the most enjoyment: from the lighter, more subtle-tasting food, to the stronger-flavoured dishes. There is an impressively long wine list, and we enjoyed some Dom Perignon and a very good white wine with our meal (I only had tiny sips of each to taste).

The amuse bouche was a duo of chilled cucumber veloute and foie gras custard with parmesan foam. We were instructed to have the cucumber veloute first, and it had a beautiful velvety texture and a refreshing flavour. The foie gras custard was rich and nicely complemented with the parmesan foam:

Hubby and L chose Le Homard en fines ravioles, navet au romarin à l'aigre-doux (Maine lobster in turnip raviolis, HK$280). One ravioli brought me to foodie heaven. I can see why this is one of L's favourite dishes to order:

C ordered La Burrata/avocats en quartiers et tomates Camone (Burrata, cheese/avocado slices and Camone tomato, HK$290). Such tantalising colours on one plate:

My first dish was La Langoustine en papillote croustillante au basilic (crispy langoustine papillote with basil, HK$290), which was one of L's favourite dishes that he also ordered that night. Beautifully crispy and perfectly cooked:

Hubby's Les Saint-Jacques poêlées, lait de coco épice et condiment de coriandre fraîche (jumbo sea scallop “à la plancha” with coconut and coriander sauce, HK$190):

Both C and L ordered La Joue de Boeuf braisée au miso rouge, petits légumes de saison (braised Wagyu beef cheek with miso, seasonal baby vegetables, HK$290). This is also another of L's favourite:

This was my Le Risotto 'Mantecato' aux langues d'oursin à l'artichaut épineux (sea urchin risotto with spiky artichokes, HK$250). This was a very rich dish, full of flavours of the sea. It was quite enjoyable, but I have an unusually low threshold for rich food so I could manage only a few spoons before it got too much for me. Hubby was happy to finish it off:

Hubby had Le Black Cod avec une mousseline de daïkon à l’huile d’olive Vierge (cod fish fillet with smooth daikon cream and virgin olive oil, HK$240). I had this dish from our lunch last year, and it was just as divine as I remembered it. The daikon cream would stand well on its own as a soup:

We ended the main part of the meal with the legendary Le Burguer au foie gras et poivrons verjutés (Kagoshima beef and foie gras burgers with lightly caramelized bell peppers, HK$320). This usually comes with two mini-burgers, but we requested to be served only one each. Served with a slab of foie gras, this is a truly decadent version of the humble burger, and one mini-sized burger was plenty enough for me (though hubby declared he could have had another!). We loved the crispy fries fried in duck fat, which went nicely with the ginger-infused tomato sauce. The overhead lighting casted a harsh shadow in the photo, so click here for a better photo, taken the last time we had the burger:

At this point, L and I were feeling the effects of carbing up on the bread, but hubby and C still had room for desserts, and they both ordered very similar desserts. L insisted that I needed dessert, and I caved in and ordered a scoop of chocolate ice cream. L also got a scoop of caramel ice cream.

C's L'Oeuf de Poule en soufflée à l’extrait de vanille de Tahiti, jaune coulant et crème glacée (egg soufflé perfumed with Tahiti’s vanilla, warm and smooth yolk with vanilla ice cream, HK$160). The egg soufflé came out perfectly bouffant, and C was pleasantly surprised that she enjoyed the sweet liquid yolk at the bottom as she doesn't usually like runny eggs:

Hubby got Le Soufflée chaud au Coeur de Guanaja, sorbet à la mandarine (hot “Coeur de Guanaja” chocolate soufflé with mandarin sorbet), which was divine and just the dessert for chocolate lovers. The mandarin sorbet was a good refreshing accompaniment to the rich soufflé, and hubby said he may have enjoyed the sorbet more than the soufflé!

An inner shot of the chocolate soufflé, which had the perfect airy texture:

My scoop of very good chocolate ice cream:

The petit fours to enjoy with our tea:

These were what we got to take home - an Orange Butter Cake, and a box of leftover baked goods from our bread basket, which we requested to take home after finding out that they were just going to be thrown out:

The orange butter cake that was really tasty:

We had a fantastic time at L'Atelier with great company and beautiful food. We would be regulars too if we could afford it!

[Prices quoted above excludes the 10% service charge]

L'ATELIER de Joël Robuchon
Shop 315 & 401
The Landmark
15 Queen's Road Central
Hong Kong
Tel. +85 2 2166 9000
Online reservations available at Robuchon's website

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