Monday, April 23, 2018

Arbor (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★★☆

One Michelin starred Épure has recently opened across the harbour at H Queen's, the newest art hub and dining paradise in Central. Arbor, its sister establishment, becomes the latest member to join the city's crowded fine dining scene, which is going to get even more crowded with the likes of Ecriture joining the party this month.

I was curious of who they would put in charge of Arbor's kitchen and it turned out, chef Eric Räty, who was the former chef de cuisine at Café Gray Deluxe at The Upper House, was the man entrusted to take the helm.

I have recruited up-and-coming foodie, MOM (no relation to MI6) to be my partner-in-crime for this lunch. Let's see if their contemporary French cuisine could get her out of her seat. 

We had a bit of a problem deciding whether to take the 3-course ($468) and 4-course ($538) menu. Unlike some of the other fine dining establishments, the multi-course menus here are completely different without a single common item, which created a little headache for the both of us.

After some nerve-racking moments, we were finally able to decide. I will take on the 4-course menu while mom will have 3-course. Thankfully, the restaurant does not require us to take the same menu (like some places would).

Our amuse bouche was a scoop of foie gras custard served on a bed of rhubarb purée along with Japanese plum coulis and shaved buckwheat. Pretty good start.

Bread was some homemade sourdough served with two types of butter. The left one was made with bonito. Didn't get the second one but I thought it's kombu with a bit of herbs on top.

I traded starters with mom coz she doesn't like raw fish. On the other hand, I'm a sucker for hamachi so this was a perfect trade, at least on my part. This was just very delicious. The silky hamachi sashimi was perfectly matched with Japanese tomato and served in a light tomato consommé infused with kombu oil. It was a very refreshing dish and the clean flavors from the tomato were an amazing way to kick off the meal.

In place of the hamachi sashimi, mom was having my Ebisu oyster but since she doesn't like raw oyster (on top of raw fish), the kitchen did their part turning it into a lightly poached oyster for her. 

This was a pretty nice dish too. The oyster was paired with cucumber granita, pickled cucumber, oyster leaf and buttermilk espuma. Again very clean and natural flavors, this time coming from the cucumber and oyster leaf which helped to give this dish another dimension.

The second dish from the 4-course set was something that I've been seeing a lot lately - green and white asparagus which are in-season right now. These were poached and served with finger lime for some nice acidity and a special Hollandaise sauce infused with white miso. Not bad.

Both of our main courses were coming up fast and furious. Mom's having French chicken with a slice of roasted chicken breast nicely complemented with a second portion from the leg which has been confit (I think). Some carrot purée on the side helped to offset the richness of the chicken.

My main course was braised veal cheek with sweet potato, purple potato chip and fresh black pepper. While the dish didn't score very high with its presentation, I thought the veal cheek was really nice and tender. There were different textures of sweet potato and purple potato there to balance things out. 

For mom, dessert were a few sticks of chocolate mousse with chocolate crumble, licorice root and scoop of pine shoot sorbet which I guessed was basil at first. Pretty decent.

I got more premium Japanese ingredients, this time it was Japanese strawberries in a chilled strawberry soup. I was busy answering a call when our server was explaining all the ingredients so like mom's sorbet, I missed the part about my sorbet as well. But judging from the flavors, I would take a wild guess that it's green tomato!?

A freshly made madeleine straight from the oven serving as our petite four.

Living up to its reputation as a French-Japanese fusion, Arbor combines modern French cooking with premium Japanese ingredients. I thought Arbor's cuisine is a lot more contemporary comparing to Épure's and you can really tell the difference in style. But after all, I guess there's no point of making the two alike.

This was the second of my four highly anticipated meals this week. With HAKU and Arbor down, I still have à nu retrouvez-vous and Ecriture coming up later the week. A really busy week for my stomach!

Food Rating: 6.5/10
Price: $$$$
Address: 25/F, H Queen's, 80 Queen's Road Central, Central, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Central
Tel: +852 3185-8388

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