Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Robuchon's backyard, Hong Kong

Amuse bouche - duck consomme jelly (gelee, I soup-pose?!) at the front
Le Jardin de Joel Robuchon is the formal dining room behind the iconic raspberry-red bar tables of L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon. The menus are essentially the same; I think L'Atelier offers a smaller set dinner and smaller set lunch on top of what Le Jardin offers.

Fava bean soup, before
We were here to have dinner with a visiting friend (actually,  Mr. The Basket Press, with whom I also went to Lung King Heen - my, he's gluttonous!) and while I think he was initially keen on the degustation, got peer-pressured by hkfashiongeek and I to go a la carte - we like food, just not in the same volume as Mr. TBP!

Fava bean soup, ready to pour and chicken waffle
When I was scanning the menu, my eyes read "chicken waffle" and some undying junk-food switch in me turned on. I kept scanning the menu for other options, but the eyes wouldn't budge - my mind was set. It came in two parts - the bowl above with the (presumably) bean puree dots, and the pouring jug-ette with my soup in it, with the all-important chicken waffle on the side. Given how my decision was made, I think I expected a bigger waffle (and maybe gravy), which would probably have Monsieur Robuchon cursing. The waffle was perfectly crisp, warm etc., though I would have liked a more intense flavour somewhere in that dish, which would make it less mellow/monotone. The place to do that would probably be the waffle - the taste didn't really correspond with the textural contrast. It needs gravy! (I kid, sort of).

Sea urchin pasta with poached egg
This wasn't my dish, but well worth showing because it is just so good...

Quail stuffed with foie gras
I think my brain was on a particular mode that night - the eye-scanning-menu thang I was doing seemed to make me lock in on certain key words. "Quail" is one of those words that always catch my eye, although it doesn't mean I always order it. In any case, that night I did, and for some reason I thought I'd never had this dish before. Needless to say, when it arrived and I put it in my mouth I knew straight away I'd had it about five times already (I think I'm getting Alzheimer's). This is one of my favourite dishes at Robuchon in Hong Kong, but make no mistake - it's heavy. My photos don't really do it justice, but the caramelisation on the surface of the quail is perfect, every time. I love the little bone too, so you know what you're eating and I think it makes you appreciate the fact that they stuffed it. The mash - need I say more?

Wagyu (A3)
Not my dish, but I got a bite, and what can I say - it was great! Top notch wagyu as steak confuses me though, as I'm looking for more than marbling and fat in a steak. If I order a steak, I'm looking for beef, ie. blood, protein - something to bite and chew on, meat juices and big beefy flavours. Wagyu is the opposite of that. Wagyu is delicate, juicy - yes - but in a fatty, not beefy way, and if you have too much to really chew on, it's not considered a good Wagyu. Don't get me wrong, I love very marbled Wagyu, but more in cubes, like a teppanyaki, where it can be seared on more sides (more surface-to-volume) and the fat really gets its chance to shine. That said, in Asia, people don't like to chew, softness/silkiness is often a food's greatest virtue (case(s) in point: bread; tofu that is silken but doesn't taste like tofu any more before it's too fine; tenderloins; meat tenderiser). I was really surprised that my favourite restaurant-made steak in Hong Kong is a Wagyu too, (at 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo) but the marbling score is intentionally low, and it tastes like beef!

Yuzu souffle
French desserts, when done perfectly like these, can do no wrong. The yuzu souffle had lovely not-too-subtle citrus flavour, and the sorbet was fine, smooth, even.

Funny thing about this Paris brest was that on the menu it said "traditional Paris brest", which to me, is a ring of choux pastry, sort of like a doughnut or a bagel, sliced sideways and filled with cream. What came were individual choux puffs, placed in the shape of a ring... Where did the "traditional" part go?! It was like they'd already cut it up into bite-sized pieces for me, which, I guess, is nice... You might be familiar with a dessert cart at Robuchon - we didn't have anything from it, but boy, did we notice it. It had LED lights coming up the pillars of the cart, and given that the restaurant lighting is ambient, those lights were like seeing a party cruise sail by every time. For fun, we named it SS something (I've forgotten now!).

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon
4/F Landmark
Hong Kong
+852 2166 9000

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  1. gold foil alert! LED on the dessert cart?! This place is going bling!

  2. Strange way to present Paris Brest....
    went once to join friends who already finished their lunch- and I had a delicious cheese plate. I am not a sweet tooth. Haha

  3. Was it SS Twinkle Star by any chance?? That seems to ring a bell for some reason.