January 26, 2013

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon (Hong Kong)

I was super stoked for my lunch date with my sister at the 3 Michelin-starred L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Hong Kong. After all, Joel Robuchon is regarded as "Chef of the Century" and is indisputably the most influential figure of the post-nouvelle cuisine era (yes... I watch too much Top Chef)! We both opted for the $448 HKD three-course prix fixe lunch.
I swear, I was more excited for this bread basket than anything else! I absolutely loved the selection and believe or not, my sister and I almost polished off the entire basket! Let's just say that we're both a little crazy over bread!
Next came the amuse-bouche. On the left, we have a parmesan biscuit with confit tomato, prosciutto and mint purée, which was a delicious bite. And on the right is an artichoke soup with carrot foam. I thought it was pretty amazing that foam could have so much flavour!
My sister's appetizer-duck foie gras terrine with herbs salad on lemon marshmallow- was a hit for both of us. I don't always love foie gras, but here the combination of the foie gras with the lemon marshmallow was divine! The portion might look small, but it was so insanely rich that it was more than enough to satisfy the two of us. 
I went with le butternut instead: fine butternut squash soup with roasted pumpkin seeds and Argan oil. I absolutely loved its presentation in a carved out squash! The soup was lusciously creamy and delicious, and I also loved the addition of roasted pumpkin seeds! I don't think soup could be any more perfect than this one. Of course, it was also very rich, and at this point I was getting quite full thanks to that bread basket. 
For her main, my sister chose le homard- Maine lobster fricassée on mushroom spelt risotto with yellow wine emulsion. To my surprise, the risotto was not overly creamy, albeit still very rich. The earthy mushrooms complemented the bold flavours of the lobster very well. My sister enjoyed it immensely, though she was unable to finish the plate due to its richness.
Meanwhile, I opted for la dinde de Bresse: Bresse turkey stuffed with foie gras and black truffle, stewed chestnuts and fennels. While the turkey was very tender, the foie gras stuffing was not as good as my sister's appetizer. What I did enjoy a lot was the bed of stewed chestnuts and mushrooms beneath the turkey.
As a bonus, my turkey also came with Joel Robuchon's famous mashed potatoes. I read somewhere that Robuchon uses a potato to butter ratio of 2:1, so I wasn't entirely surprised that this was increduloulsy rich. Honestly, I felt like I could just spread it on a piece of bread like butter (which I did!) So as much as I enjoyed the mashed potatoes, there was simply no way that we could finish the whole serving. I think we ended up only demolishing a third.
By the time desserts arrived, my sister and I pretty much made up our minds that we had to skip dinner that night. People say that there's a second stomach for dessert. In this case, I think that mashed potato already filled up my second stomach! But anyway, my choice of dessert was la pomme: caramelized apple "tarte tatin" with cider infused mousse and vanilla ice-cream. I wasn't crazy over the mousse but the caramelized apple was awesome!
Out of the two desserts, I definitely preferred my sister's Paris-Brest with pear sorbet. For those unfamiliar with Paris-Brest, it is a dessert made of choux pastry and praline flavoured cream. This was my first time trying this dessert and I fell in love with it immediately! In particular, the pear sorbet was super flavourful and refreshing!
We ended the meal with some confectioneries, which included some chocolate, candy, macarons and madeleine. The entire meal was truly a special experience, though looking back I felt that we shouldn't have each ordered a prix fixe meal. Even though the portions look small, everything was insanely rich and filling. My favourites included the the foie gras appetizer, my butternut squash soup, and my sister's Paris-Brest dessert! Although this was the priciest meal I had in Hong Kong (on a per person basis), it did technically fill me up for two meals, since we ended up skipping dinner that night. Next time in Asia, I'll be sure to check out Joel Robuchon's restaurant (Robuchon au Dôme) in Macau!

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