Friday, February 12, 2016

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

My foodie friend Hello Kitty from Vancouver was in town for 3 days and since we haven't seen each other for a while now, I decided to invite her to catch up over a quick lunch this afternoon. Living semi-retirement life and fresh off a culinary trip to 3-star Michelin temples like El Celler de Can Roca and Azurmendi in Spain, I knew she has some seriously spoiled taste buds to tame today and that's precisely why I decided to turn things up a notch and offered her a number of high-end places to choose from. And at the end of the day, it was L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon at Landmark getting her nod.

I can't recall exactly when I last dined here but early signs indicates that everything has remained pretty much the same, well except for the prices which has skyrocketed quite a bit over the last couple of years. 

After deciding on the wine, we turned our attention to the food menu. Neither one of us looked impressed with the set menu so we decided to explore the a la carte menu with small tasting portions instead.

I was so concentrated on my conversation with Hello Kitty that I actually managed to totally miss the description on our amuse bouche. I vaguely remembered it was a foie gras custard with a certain flavored foam along with a deep fried risotto ball. I hope I got most things right.

Both of us decided to have 5 small plates and starting with none other than the restaurant's most coveted dish - sea urchin in a lobster jelly, topped with cauliflower cream ($270). Somehow, I could never resist this gem for all the good reasons.

This ranks right up there with Amber's sea urchin dish if not actually better. The sweetness of lobster, prawn and sea urchin had my palates bursting with joy.

Continuing with the theme of L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon's signature dishes, I went with their crispy langoustine papillote with basil ($290) while Hello Kitty enjoyed the fresh caviar. This tasted a little like the tiger prawn shiso roll with yuzu-kosho pesto I had at Mercedes Me last year but of course, the crispy langoustine was a lot more meaty. Not bad.

Next came my Hokkaido scallop with green curry and coriander sauce topped with a squid ink farfalle ($220). This was pretty nice. The scallop didn't have the typical size of a Hokkaido scallop but the green curry and coriander sauce did well to bring out the best of the scallop.

The next two dishes I had the pleasure of enjoying a few times since day one when the restaurant first landed in Hong Kong. Free-range caramelized quail with foie gras ($250) has always been one of my favorites here and it's nice to see that it's not faded over the years. The truffles and evil mash were both nice complements to the quail and foie gras. The second best dish of the afternoon right behind the sea urchin without a question.

I was looking for a little more meat and went hunting for it with this milk fed lamb cutlets with fresh thyme ($280). The lamb cutlets were grilled to perfection and I thought the fresh thyme did a wonderful job balancing the rich lamb flavors.

I was running a little late for my next appointment so instead of dessert, we had the petite fours to wrap things up.

I had a nice time catching up with Hello Kitty and the meal itself was absolutely flawless. I had a pretty packed schedule in the afternoon so the crew was instructed to deliver this lunch in less than 90 minutes and despite the time constraint, they did a fabulous job delivering the meal with just the right pace. If this were my first time here, I would have been in cloud nine but while they've managed to keep the same consistency through all these years, I thought there was a bit of complacency in breathing new life into their food menu. Most of the items on the small portion food menu have been around for 7-8 years which was slightly disappointing. 

To sum it up, I believe the Michelin God has really smiled on this particular branch of L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon by granting it 3 stars but let's be honest about it, this is not a 3-star establishment (if you compare it with the 3-star establishments in Europe). I told Hello Kitty it's more like one and a half!

Food Rating: 7.5/10
Price: $$$$$
Address: Shop 315 & 401, The Landmark, Central, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Central
Tel: +852 2166-9000
S. Pellegrino Asia's 50 Best Restaurants: 17th (2015)

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