Sunday, January 25, 2009

L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★★★

Joël Robuchon is one of the most celebrated French chef with a collective 20+ Michelin stars from around the globe. He is argueably the most influential restaurateur in the business with restaurants scattered around the world's major cities including Paris, London, Las Vegas, Tokyo and Hong Kong.

L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Hong Kong debuted back in 2006 and has been on a run of 2 stars ever since they launched the first Michelin Guide in Hong Kong. Its interior design follows their usual black-and-red theme. That color tone adds a bit of dark elegance and an element of suspense to the overall dining experience.

There are two separate sections in the restaurant. The bar-table, provided a more relaxed and casual dining atmosphere with a perfect view to the open kitchen. Then there was a more traditional dining room with a simple yet elegant decor.

Unfortunately, we did not make an advance booking on this day and with the dining room already fully booked, we had to settle for the bar table.

Sea urchin in a lobster jelly, 10/10
I had a similar dish at their sister store Galera a Robuchon in Macau a while ago and this was equally brilliant. Rich and creamy sea urchin in a lobster jelly arrived in a dome-shaped container. The buttery texture of sea urchin, along with the delicate sweetness of the lobster jelly and topped with cauliflower cream managed to strike a perfect balance.  

This was an absolute masterpiece.

Steak tartare with homemade french fries, 6/10
Like the previous dish, this was a fixture in most Robuchon's eatery and it's a pretty good one. The meat was deliciously fresh and the seasoning was just about right.

Scallops cooked in the shell, 4/10
Fresh scallops were cooked in their shells with a sophisticated seaweed butter. I did enjoy the wonderful texture of the scallops but I thought the seaweed infused butter was somehow too dominant for the scallops to handle.


Free-range caramelized quail with foie gras, 9/10
I was trying to kill two birds with one stone here by ordering one single dish that consisted of two Robuchon signature dishes.

The first house specialty was a free-range quail caramelized and stuffed with foie gras. The crispy skin of the quail combined with the tender quail meat, melting foie gras and truffled potato to form one of the most amazing dish of all time.

The second Robuchon specialty came as a sidedish. The Robuchon mashed potato was known for being silky smooth and extremely flavorsome. And yes it was as good as advertised.

When we asked our server about the secrets behind their mashed potato, he replied, "for every spoon of potato, simply add two spoons of butter!" (One mark was deducted from a health perspective.) 

Monkfish with pumpkin purée, 5/10
Our fish dish was a monkfish served with a thick smear of pumpkin purée. I didn't particularly enjoy it for its chewy texture.

Roasted lamb cutlets with fresh thyme, 7/10
Super tender and delicious but portion was a bit small.

Petite fours was a nicely presented combo of macarons, chocolate and jelly candy.

This was an unforgettable experience from every standpoint we could image - service, ambiance and food quality.

Food Rating: 8/10
Price: $$$$
Address: Shop 315, 334 & 401, Landmark Atrium, Central, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Central
Tel: +852 2166-9000
S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants: 55th (2009)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Munchkins Restaurant (London, UNITED KINGDOM) ★★★☆☆

It was New Year's day so as expected, almost every restaurant in London was closed for business. On our way to the British Museum, we were fortunate enough to find Munchkins Restaurant just across the street.

Open in 1987, Munchkins Restaurant is a casual diner that specializes in traditional English food, fish and chips, all-day English breakfast, burgers etc.

The fish and chips with mushy peas was a little disappointing. But it tasted a little better on a day when choices were limited.

The scampi and chips actually tasted slightly better.

Located across the street from the British Museum, Munchkins Restaurant deserves a chance if you're ever visiting the museum.

Food Rating: 4.5/10
Price: £££
Address: 38 Great Russell Street, London, UK 
Closest Tube Station: Tottenham Court Rd
Tel: +44 20 7636-2775