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

Friday, 20 November 2015

Revisit: Birthday lunch @ L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon, Hong Kong

I recently celebrated my birthday, and hubby took the day off work to celebrate and spoil me. The morning started off with a blissful massage at a nice day spa, followed by lunch at my favourite restaurant, then watching the latest Bond movie at the big screen, before going home to my beautiful children. The big boy was at school, and baby girl was in the capable hands of her childminder, so I could relax and fully enjoy everything. The highlight of the day was bumping into French chef genius Joël Robuchon when we arrived at L'Atelier for lunch. He was in Hong Kong for his annual Gala Dinner in the region, which happened to take place on the night after my birthday (in fact, hubby wanted to take me to the Gala Dinner for my birthday, but I could not justify such lavish expenditure on myself)! This wasn't our first time meeting the world's most decorated chef, but I could barely contain my excitement when we bumped into him as we were being shown to our seats and he was leaving the kitchen. Robuchon did not speak English, but we managed a short conversation with my rudimentary French. He was a genial host, and later on during lunch, he reappeared in the dining room to chat and take photos with all the diners present. We were presented with an autographed copy of our photo with the chef, as a memorable keepsake of the moment. Having been to L'Atelier several times before, I will waste no time introducing the restaurant, and will go straight to the food. The lunch sets and a-la-carte menu were available, as were the Menu Degustation (special tasting menu) and Menu Découverte (discovery menu). The lunch sets were more affordable, and were priced in a tiered system depending on the number of courses ordered: HK$498 for 3 courses, HK$598 for 4 courses and HK$758 for 5 courses. Hubby was feeling up for the 5-course option, but I opted for the more modest 4 course set. Food was, as always, beautifully presented and excellently executed with amazing flavours and textures.

Hubby's favourite rum, Rhum JM 2001, and my Lychee Blade mocktail:

I love L'Atelier's bread baskets!

Amuse Bouche - chilled basil jelly with a creamy cepes mushroom mousse, and a potato croquette-like ball of yummy goodness with Paimpol white beans:

Hubby's entree, Le Haricot Paimpol - Paimpol white beans salad with celery, foie gras rolls and "Iberico" ham. I loved the creamy texture of the white beans, the beautiful flavours of the foie gras rolls, enhanced by the the chewy smoky ham:

My entree was L'Oursin - Scottish salmon tartare with sea urchin and homemade crispy waffles (supplement HK$30). Such gorgeous fresh umami flavours from the sea, contrasted by the crispy waffle layers:

For our soup course, we both chose Le Homard - Lobster "tsukune" and assorted vegetables in fine spiced bouillon. The chicken meatballs were juicy with crunchy little balls of what I thought were tobiko (flying fish roe). The bouillon had a strong ginger kick, and there were a couple of large lobster meat in it too. Very Asian flavours:

Hubby's first main course, Le Saint Jacques - Pan-seared scallops with Malabar black pepper sauce, baby spinach with wasabi and coconut emulsion. Perfectly cooked scallops, and the sauce and foam were both mildly flavoured so they did not overwhelm the scallops:

For his second main course dish, hubby ordered Le Fletan - Pan-fried Halibut, eggplant caviar, virgin olive oil with herbs. The fish was perfectly seasoned and delicious:

My choice of main course was Les Spaghettis - Maine lobster spaghetti and coral emulsion (supplement $30). Wow. This was superbly flavoured with generous hunks of juicy lobster meat:

Coffee time!

Hubby selected Les Fromages for his final course, a selection of fine French cheese:

And I chose Le Chocolat - Coffee trilogy, delicate chocolate mousse with orange confit. Very good, but at this point I was so full that I let hubby eat most of it:

We forewent our petit fours because we were running late for our movie! Though this was our fourth or fifth visit to L'Atelier, this particular one was a really memorable meal, made more special by the presence of Robuchon himself!

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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