Saturday, December 2, 2017

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

I have been quietly looking for an excuse to come back to L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon and finally, I got one (early Christmas celebration with mom!) this week. The best part of all, I didn't have to do much convincing to recruit my partner in crime (mom) on board.



It's mom's first visit to a Joël Robuchon establishment so initially, I wanted to make sure that mom gets her hands on some of the restaurant's signature dishes. But as we all know the hard way, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. In my case, my morning meeting ran into overtime (more like triple overtime) so I didn't arrive until almost 1pm which gave us a little less than an hour and a half to finish this meal (including my traveling time back). At the end, we had to settle for the 3-course set lunch menu and of course, I let my server know of my tight schedule and he promised to do the best he could to accommodate.



Despite the kitchen's best effort, our amuse bouche didn't arrive until 20 minutes after we placed our order and I had to chase them a couple of times for that to happen. Their excuse was the fact that our amuse bouche needed time to get steamed. But 20 minutes?? Anyways...

I thought this was a pretty nice amuse bouche. The steamed mushroom purée was topped with artichoke cream, mushrooms, crispy croutons and a bit of espelette provided a lovely spicy kick.



La Langoustine - Now that we have got our amuse bouche out of the way, things were finally back on track. I was really looking forward to the intense flavors of this rich langoustine soup which was perfectly complemented by the roasted scampi set at the center of the dish.



The soup was served with brussels sprouts, green beans, shiitake mushroom and squid. I could really sense the amazing aroma coming from the finely spiced bouillon when our server poured it down to the bowl.



Very rich and most definitely very delicious.



La Chataigne - At the same time, mom was having her velvety chestnut velouté with Jerusalem artichokes. I didn't steal a spoonful of it from her like I usually do but I was told, it was silky smooth though lacking some rich chestnut flavor.



Le Canard de Challans - A couple of other main dishes made my short list but I ended up taking the grilled Challans duck breast because I can never resist ducks from Challans.



The pair of duck breast were grilled to absolute perfection with the meat still largely pink while the skin crispy and almost crunchy. It was served with some celeriac purée, pear and foie gras. Not bad.



Les Spaghettis - Mom decided to drop a few bucks more ($30 supplement) for the 
Maine lobster spaghetti with coral emulsion.



Again a wonderful dish with strong and complex flavors coming from the coral emulsion. I was curious why they didn't serve it with Brittany lobsters.



Le Chocolate - I wanted something simple and unpretentious for dessert this afternoon so this fit the bill perfectly. I love the simple combination of "Gianduja" cream, chocolate jelly and Earl Grey tea ice-cream. The whole thing was showered with something like corn flakes so there's a bit of crunchiness on top of the different textures and flavors.



La Poire - Mom went with the pear compote tart with cinnamon mousse and pear sorbet. A bit better presentation than my dessert and a bit more refreshing as well.



They always have the best petite fours in town. Too bad I was running a little late for my afternoon meeting so I had to grab the profiteroles and raspberry macaron and finished on the go before I passed the gate at the MTR station.



Despite giving the service team a heads-up, the meal ended up taking more than 1.5 hours for just three courses. Can they do a better job in speeding things up? Absolutely. Four months ago, I had a 10-course degustation menu at Ad-Hoc, a contemporary European restaurant in Osaka in just 70 minutes. As soon as I told them I was pressed for time, the chefs there really turned up the heat and managed to deliver the entire meal at an amazing pace. But that was Japan, which I thought was one of the most customer oriented cities in the world. Let's not take anything away from this lunch. I thought all the dishes I had was amazing. Mom had something to say about her chestnut velouté and Uncle Joel's signature mashed potato but for the most part, she thoroughly enjoyed the experience. And that's the most important thing. 

And to my pleasant surprise, I made it to my meeting five minutes ahead of schedule~!

Food Rating: 7.5/10
Price: $$$$
Address: Shop 315 & 401, The Landmark, Central, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Central
Tel: +852 2166-9000
Website: www.robuchon.hk
S. Pellegrino Asia's 50 Best Restaurants: 41st (2017)


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