My followers probably know by now how much J and I admire the cooking of the famous French chef. We now adopted a tradition of visiting his restaurant everywhere we go and couldn’t have left Hong Kong without dining at L’Atelier which has consistently maintained impeccable reputation and three Michelin stars for a few years now. The newly renovated restaurant, nestled in The Landmark by Mandarin Oriental, features signature glossy blacks, heady reds and intimate dim-lit ambiance. We were seated by the counter which granted us a great vantage point to see the top team in action. As always, we opted for the chef’s tasting menu to be able to sample the best selection of the season. The food in Joel Robuchon’s restaurants never fails to give me a sense of comfort and certainty. I’ve read a few times how his cooking is characterized as repetitive and boring. While I do understand where these comments might be stemming from, I think people fail to realize one fundamental feature of Joel Robuchon’s cooking – he doesn’t chaise the excitement of inventing new flavor combinations and innovative cooking techniques. There might not be fireworks, but I personally come here because I am guaranteed to have a night filled with nothing but delicious and visually pleasing creations that are consistent from restaurant to restaurant, perfectly executed and presented in the most sophisticated and elegant way. Dinner started in the best of Robuchon’s traditions – a welcoming basket of fresh house-baked breads which always call my name in the most seductive way. My favorite mini croissants were utterly divine, as always, while the new highlight included matcha bread. Amuse bouche was a pure treat for eyes as well as the palate – it featured foie gras emulsion and artichoke croquette, both bursting with deliciousness. LE CAVIAR IMPÉRIAL: King crab and avocado cannelloni with Imperial caviar. This dish is apparently one of the chef’s newest creations. The savory taste of the crab and caviar were balanced with a touch of grapefruit and orange, while the entire bite had a little spicy kick to it.
LA TRUFFE BLANCHE: Perfectly soft boiled egg on golden pearl rice with white Abla truffle and parmesan shavings. Rich and filling savoriness from the egg and rice were complimented by the earthy flavors of the mushroom – can I have this for breakfast every day, please?
For our third course, we enjoyed a quite complex dish of a mushroom ravioli covered with seared mushrooms, jamón and shaved parmesan cheese. I loved the toppings, but the ravioli was not that impressive, while the suckling pig skin on top had a lot of potential for adding crispy texture, alas it was just a tiny piece and was a bit lost. LE HOMARD: Grilled Maine lobster with green peas and baby bak choy. I loved this dish for its rich and flavorful lobster bisque, the sweet nutty flavor that came from the peas and the lobster meat itself which was beautifully cooked.
LE SAINT-PIERRE: John Dory fried with shiso tempura, cuttlefish ink risotto. The fish was cooked to perfection with nice flaky flesh and paired wonderfully with the pesto and yuzu sauces that were dotted on the plate. Shiso leaf tempura added a nice crunch to the bite and the risotto had an ideal texture as well.
LE PIGEON: Slow cooked French pigeon with foie gras and smoked bacon, accompanied with chicken bouillon and petit raviolis. This might have been my favorite course of the night – the pigeon was cooked on point and the foie gras and pork combination was utter perfection. We also enjoyed chef’s infamous mashed potatoes on the side, as well as a very soul-warming chicken bouillon with foie ravioli. We finished off the dinner with two electable desserts. The first dessert – LA CERISE – has been featured in Joel Robuchon’s Las Vegas restaurant too, and like last time, I loved its presentation and taste. Its refreshing sweet and sour taste served almost like a palate cleanser after the succession of the dishes with savory-driven flavor profile. Second dessert – LE MARRON – was equally striking with decadent chestnut mousse and crispy coffee tuile served alongside refreshing lime ice cream. Last but not least we nibbled on some petite fours alongside a cup of tea. Overall, Amber impressed us more by featuring rather complex flavor and texture profiles in every dish and with all due respect to the chef, if asked, I’d recommend it over L’Atelier. However, I wouldn’t be able to put my finger on a single dish that didn’t work or wasn’t scrumptious in L’Atelier either and the restaurant still remains our go-to for a classic French cuisine and a world-class cooking.
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