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, 17 August 2011

Charming casual French @ Saint-Germain (Happy Valley), Hong Kong

These days, when I think of French cuisine, my mind invariably would go in the direction of haute cuisine-types like Robuchon or a few of the other nice French restaurants we've had the pleasure of dining at. At any rate, it's not usual for me to relate casual eating with French food, but as Saturday's experience at the newly opened Saint-Germain would attest, homey French can certainly go down very nicely. When I say "homey", I certainly don't mean to imply that the food was rustic or even homecooked and similarly presented. Quite the contrary, the dishes were excellently executed and thoughtfully presented. And very delicious. The floor manager and at least one of the waiters are French, so I don't doubt that the food is as French as it can get. The menu was kept simple and featured timeless French dishes, and I imagine that this is the sort of food that the French would go out and eat when they want a casual affair with reasonable prices. During our lunch, I heard a lady customer chat away in French to the manager at the bar, and I wouldn't be surprised if this brasserie is already a favourite amongst the Euro expats living in the area. This little brasserie is tucked away in a quiet neighbourhood of Happy Valley, and while it isn't the easiest restaurant to access (a good 20 minute walk from the nearest MTR station), it turned out to be a gem worth seeking.

Our boy fell asleep in the stroller during the walk to Saint-Germain, and woke up just after we finished our dessert. I felt bad that he missed out on a delicious lunch, but we appreciated being able to have a little impromptu lunch date without having to fuss over a toddler:

Hot entrée: Galette de Feuilleté Perigueux au Foie Gras (puff pastry galette with homemade duck liver and summer truffles) - big flavours on a small plate! We really enjoyed this. I could only taste the rich earthy flavour of the truffles and hardly at all of the foie gras, but I'm not complaining:

Cold entrée: Cannelloni de Celeri au Grabe et Vinaigrette de Mangue (celeriac cannelloni with crab meat and mango dressing) - a great refreshing entrée for a hot summer's day. Mild flavours, but great combination of textures: crunchy celeriac (not celery as suggested in the menu - lost in translation?), soft crab filling and silky mango sauce. :

Rob's main course: Duo Gambas et Saint Jacques à la Plancha, Cocotte de Légumes et Coulis de Crustacés (duo of prawns and scallops "a la Plancha", vegetables cocotte and shellfish coulis) - excellent flavours, perfect for any seafood lovers. Loved the vegetables, and we did not waste a drop of that delicious coulis but mopped everything up with bread:

Black Cod Rôti, Pommes de Terre Ecrasées Fines Herbes, Marinière de Moules (roasted black cod with herbed crushed potatoes and moules marinieres [aka mussels cooked in white wine]) - the juicy flavoursome cod was indeed the star of this dish. The chef certainly knows how to treat seafood right!

Nem au Chocolat Accompagné d'une Soupe Froide "Chocolat, Gingembre, Orange" (chocolate spring roll accompanied by a cold soup of "chocolate, ginger, orange") - rich, decadent and sweet:

And very chocolatey. The mint leaves rolled between the crêpe layers was a nice touch and gave a lovely subtle minty flavour. The chocolate soup was milky with a touch of orange flavour, but I couldn't taste any ginger:

I absolutely adored the seafood and the fish. Although Saint-Germain is not easily accessible for us, I think that the food is worth a second trek out to this little French brasserie.

1A Wong Nai Chung Rd
Happy Valley
Hong Kong
Tel. +852 2836 6131


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