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, 15 June 2012

Excellent French @ L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon, Hong Kong

Last weekend we celebrated hubby's birthday at his favourite French restaurant, L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Hong Kong. Although this was our first time at this particular L'Atelier, we'd been to the one in Tokyo two times before and absolutely loved both experiences. We also had the privilege of dining with some relatives two years ago at the more formal Le Jardin, which is a part of L'Atelier offering a more private experience. L'Atelier has since been awarded a third Michelin star, an award that we know is well-deserved.

Stairway (or escalator) to gustatory heaven. On either side of the archway were four pages of the menu on display:

Service was excellent, helpful and friendly - always a fantastic combination at fine dining restaurants. There is a dress code for gentlemen and boys ("No shorts or sandals"), and there is a no-kids-under-4 policy (our boy is only 4 months shy of his 4th birthday and easily passes for a 5-year-old). I have always adored the sleek and earthy interior of L'Atelier - the HK one is based on the same concept that Robuchon created in Tokyo - and I believe that eating at the bar overlooking into the central open kitchen is essential to maximise the L'Atelier experience. There is also the option to dine at tables for those who prefer more privacy, but I almost always choose bar seats if available.

Watching the chefs in action in the (gorgeous) busy kitchen:

The lunch menu titled Composez Votre Déjeuner Selon Votre Appétit (which translates to "lunch at your own composition") gives diners the choice of a 3-, 4- or 5-course meal, with three options for most courses. Each dish was well executed and delighted our sight, smell and taste senses. We also loved the bread basket, which we happily munched on in between courses.

The beautiful basket of baked goodies. There were crusty baguettes, cheesy rolls, bacon and onion twists, buttery mini-croissants, soft brioche and walnut rolls. The boy did not hesitate to pounce upon the basket, and would have eaten only bread for lunch if we'd let him:

The amuse bouche was presented in a shot glass, which allowed us to admire the duality of the dish. The creamy green bean soup was topped with a light-textured tomato mousse, and sprinkled with sweet ginger confit and crispy bacon chips. This little shot glass left me wanting for more!

Les Entrées (Appetisers)

Hubby's appetiser was La Cerise en gaspacho avec un lacté de brebis givré aux éclats de pistaches (cherry gazpacho with ricotta cheese sherbet and roasted pistachios) - refreshing and big on flavour. The crushed pistachio gave a nice crunch:

I got Le Haricot Vert en salade de mimosa aux copeaux de foie gras et parmesan (green bean mimosa salad with foie gras rolls and parmesan cheese). The slices of foie gras were thin enough not to overwhelm, and I adored the symmetrical presentation of the dish:

(At our request, the boy was also served his plate at the same time as our appetisers, but I've put it under the main course below since that's where it technically belongs.)

Les Soupes (Soups)

For his soup course, hubby chose La Laitue en fin velouté, émulsion d’oignons nouveaux (French lettuce “veloute” and baby onion foam). The veloute and foam were kept separate, and the foam was poured into the veloute upon serving. This was a light and refreshing soup that had subtle flavours:

My soup was L'Aubergine à l’oeuf sans coque, aux croutons dorés et “Joselito Gran Reserva” (fine eggplant cream soup with soft-boiled egg, iberico ham and croutons), which was creamy, robust and delicate at the same time. I loved the crispy cheese disc that lay atop, and the crunchy croutons contrasted nicely with the soft texture of the eggplant. I also liked the soft-boiled egg:

Les Poissons (Fish)

Hubby got Le Homard du Maine aux pennes de maïs et émulsion coralline épicée (Maine lobster with penne pasta and “coralline” sauce), and the generous chunks of lobster flesh were delectable. Pairing with the humble pasta allowed the lobster to shine in all its glory:

Le Black Cod avec une mousseline de daïkon à l’huile d’olive Vierge (black cod fillet with smooth daikon cream and virgin olive oil). The cod had been marinated in a soy and mirin mixture, and the flesh imparted an unmistakably Japanese flavour. The sweet, juicy flesh went very nicely with the creamy daikon sauce:

Les Viandes (Meats)

Hubby's Le Canard en duo de foie gras aux fruits de saison (slow cooked duck breast and foie gras garnished with seasonal fruits). Wow. I loved the presentation, and the flavour was incredible. The duck breast was tender and juicy, and the foie gras was indulgently rich. The cherries were beautiful too:

I was allowed to choose a fish dish from my meat course for our son's meal, which was kind of our waiter because this worked out a bit cheaper than ordering a plate from the a-la-carte menu. The boy had Le Saumon poêlé a la citronnelle, étuvés de jeunes poireaux (pan-fried salmon with lemongrass foam and stewed baby leeks):

Close-up shot of the salmon, which was delicious, but sad to say that this haute dish was lost on the boy. He could only consume about half, and I happily claimed the rest for myself. I really liked the lemongrass flavour, and the creamy mashed potatoes that came with the salmon:

Les Desserts

La Forêt Noire à la vanille de Tahiti, compote et sorbet de cerise (L’Atelier-style black forest with Tahiti vanilla cream and cherry sorbet). This came with a little edible chocolate plaque bearing a birthday wish and a candle for hubby (off to the top left of the shot). The French is known for their dessert, and this one was executed very well:

Le Parfum Des Îles onctuosité aux fruits de la passion, granité au vieux rhum, légèreté à la noix de coco (smooth passion fruit cream with vintage amber rum granite and coconut mousse). This dessert was light and indulgent at the same time. The passionfruit cream beneath it all contained honey macadamia nuts, which was a delightful surprise:

Coffee or tea is included in the lunch set, and we both had cappuccino (check out the swan latte art):

Complimentary petit fours to enjoy with our coffee, which included macarons, golden crunchy chocolate beads, berry jellies and madeleines:

Once again, we had a thoroughly enjoyable experience at L'Atelier. Hubby and I agreed that even though we'd been to Le Château de Joël Robuchon in Tokyo, which is widely regarded to be the ultimate Robuchon experience in Asia, we still prefer the casual setting (but just as delicious food) of L'Atelier.

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

No comments:

Post a Comment