Sunday, December 25, 2011

Eat to Give - La Parole, a Social Enterprise

I had the good fortune of being invited to a Christmas dinner at a restaurant that was right under my nose all along, but never tried - La Parole in The Pemberton in Sheung Wan. I met friends, old and new, which is always fantastic, but the best part was that I got to learn more about La Parole. If you read French (or decide to use Google Translate, duh) you'll know the name means "speech". Weird name for a restaurant, right? Well, not really when you realise La Parole is a social enterprise that supports Benji's Centre, which helps children with speech disorders from low-income families receive quality speech therapy services.

Mr. & Mrs. Raymond and Viola Wong
However, as owners, Mr. and Mrs. Wong say themselves, they're not looking for charity. They're looking for a sustainable way of keeping Benji's afloat. They don't expect people to go there out of pity, they want people to go and enjoy the food. Quality, value (and margins) are just as important to them as every other restaurateur. So, to the food. (Though please remember that this was an invitation.)

Bread basket
The currant and walnut bread at the front was amazing. I think we got three refills. It's so hard to find good bread in Hong Kong that's like this - substantial weight, chewy and crisp crust, a moist, dense but not overly wet crumb.

Escargots de Bourgogne with garlic cream
I didn't eat all these courses, but I did trade some here and there with my generous neighbours.

Symphonie de foie gras
More pics than blah then, to give you an idea of the food...

Mushroom and black truffle soup
The food in general is simple bistro-style, or slightly above bistro, with great ingredients and simple but tried-and-tested combinations and techniques that won't give you and nasty shocks.

Lobster salad
A beautiful little salad with bouncy, just-cooked lobster, fresh greens and all. A very nice (and pretty luxurious!) start.

Pan-fried scallops with "purple espuma"
The purple espuma part threw me a little, but otherwise the scallops were textbook perfectly pan-fried.

Lamb rack with honey butter
I didn't try this, but it did seem slightly overcooked. Reports from my neighbours were that it was tasty, but the rack presentation made it hard to eat (you sort of have to carve it yourself).

Grilled Black Angus
A really good, juicy, beefy steak. Done medium rare as ordered - something that, as I recently heard, even a very high-end hotel and a personal favourite (sniff) couldn't do... ahem. (No - *presses delete* - No. Must. Be. Nice. For. The. Holidays.)

Triangle of pear with pistachio ice cream
A brilliant pistachio ice cream, packed with real, nutty flavour. Went well with something warm like the filo-wrapped pears. Though the fatty in me wouldn't have minded puff pastry instead!

Duo of chocolate and coconut

Hot chocolate

When I posted photos of this meal up on Facebook, a couple of commenters very diligently asked whether I had the hot chocolate. Thank goodness I did despite being completely stuffed - their hot chocolate is the kind that your Belgian grandmother would make that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I think it helps, also, to explain this hot choc situation with the next photo...

The social enterprise also includes the Leonidas chocolate franchise for Hong Kong and a Japanese restaurant also in The Pemberton, called Shou Zen.

Thanks to the organisers - Hong Kong travel writer Chun-Wai Chan and IHM's PR pro Geoffrey Wu - who invited us along to learn about this meaningful enterprise.

The chefs, accompanied by Mr. Wong. Their Executive Chef is Belgian, and if I understood correctly, was the chief culinary advisor to the Belgian pavilion in this year's World Expo in Shanghai.

There's definitely quality here, and I hear they do a mean brunch too. In the spirit of Christmas - even though I'm about an hour late - or, the end of the year when we traditionally reflect on the past 12 months, and think about how to be better people next year, eating to give is about as easy as new years' resolutions come. Bon appetit and happy holidays everyone!

La Parole
3/F The Pemberton
22-26 Bonham Strand
Sheung Wan
Hong Kong
+852 2436 4099
Open: lunch & dinner Mon-Sat

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  1. Hi Janice! Looks good. Such a meaningful way to eat and support at the same time SEs. They are a few like but this one seems to be more high-end. A good address to remember.
    Thanks for sharing and happy boxing day! (the Fench don't have this extra holiday!)

  2. BRAVO! I applaud this kind of events that have a sense without people trying to use it for their own ego.
    Geoff told me about it and it's really good to see it in photos here! Well done!

    By the way, good health and all the best for the coming year! :)