The fact that Hong Kong is home to 2nd largest French community living abroad, following London, makes it one of the most ideal places to taste authentic croissants, baguettes and macaroons. Even McDonald’s have offered their version of macaroons, pressured by this recent “French” fad in Hong Kong, although it is hard to vouch for its taste.
Below are my go-to French restaurants in HK for various occasions and you will see which one suits you best while following this post.
1. Arcane (3rd F, 18 On Lan Street, Central)
Initial disappointment that Arcane doesn’t have dinner course menu as most other French restaurants do (but they can offer customized tasting menu if you request) immediately turned into awe and respect upon tasting their famous appetizers, truffle gnocchi and Japanese fruit tomato. Indefinite satisfaction coming out of refined taste emphasizing the quality of ingredient, artistic presentation and sophisticated venue gave us an impression that I am dining, somewhere in Montreal.
“Pyrenean milk fed lamb with aubergine puree, chickpeas, chorizo and choi sum, rosemary” was the highlight of the meal and you can order their signature “truffle gnocchi” either as an appetizer or a main (gnocchi was so delicious that I was literally drooling over other people’s leftover…). Each dish came with near perfection and now I can understand why food in Arcane can be better enjoyed by a la carte option. Internationally acclaimed-Michelin star chef’s presence also lifted up our expectation and mood throughout the night. (Taste 5/ Ambience 4.5/ Service 5/ Price 5/Value 4.5)
2. Alchemy in the dark (16 Arbuthnot Road, Central)
Have you ever eaten in the dark? Yes, I mean, completely dark that you won’t even see what you are eating and the person you are eating with. Although cutlery is offered, you will soon find yourself eating with two hands(as you can’t see anything at all) and the 5-course dinner focusing on its original flavour minus visual presentation (sometimes unnecessary) tastes extremely good.
Alchemy is the first of its concept of “dining in the dark” in HK and you can simply go with A la carte menu or weekend set lunch if you wish to enjoy their amazing food with your eyes wide open. Their cheese platter was one of the most delicious and delicately presented dish that I’ve ever tasted. (Taste 4.5/ Ambience 5(lounge)/ Service 4.5/ Price 4/Value 4.5)
3. Serge et le phoque (Tower 1, The Zenith, 3 Wan Chai Road, Wan Chai)
Located right in the heart of Wan Chai wet market, it seems to be the last place where French restaurants can be found. But in this Brooklyn-style cool setting with all window blinds tightly closed(to block the outside market view), you won’t notice the surroundings at all. Rather, all you can experience is the sublime Japanese-infused French cuisine, which noticeably uses less butter than usual French food, thus bringing surprisingly refreshing taste. (Taste 4.5/ Ambience 3.5/ Service 4/ Price 4/Value 4)
4. Seasons by Olivier E. (Shop 308, 3/F, Phase 2, Lee Garden, 28 Yun Ping Road, Causeway Bay)
This modern French cuisine created with nuanced interpretation meets your full expectation about perfect dining, highlighted by venue’s elegance (Yes, it is in Lee Garden) and attentive service. 4-course dinner set gives you great value and flexibility in menu options, although it is not easy to keep your choice within the set categories when plenty of fancier(more pricey) selections are available. Food here stops short of being overly butter-influenced and there are always countless reasons to pair with a glass/bottle of red wine. (Taste 4/ Ambience 4/ Service 4.5/ Price 4/Value 4)
5. Le Bistro Winebeast (G/F & 1/F Tai Yip Building, 141 Thomson Road, Wan Chai)
Honestly, I was reluctant to include this place as it is a hidden-gem that I don’t want to see it crowded with people. Who can resist spacious but intimate ambience filled with wine from all over the world (they do wine wholesale, thus offering quality wine at wholesale price) together with sumptuous dish at a value price? Their amazing 4-course tasting menu paring with 4 glasses of wine comes at only USD 70, almost half price of other comparable restaurants. Location being tucked away from busy Hennessy Road also helps its royal patrons enjoy delectable food in a quiet and leisurely atmosphere. Although there’s a wide variety of selections, I strongly suggest you go with tasting menu for an ultimate gratification. (Taste 4.5/ Ambience 4/ Service 4/ Price 3.5/Value 5)
6, Upper Modern Bistro (6-14 Upper Station Street, Sheung Wan)
It was a fun-filled experience to dine in Upper Modern Bistro with its uniquely shaped ceiling and vivid decoration. Philippe Oricco (also a chef of Michelin-starred restaurant On Dining)’s name gives this venue an indisputable authenticity and half of the patrons seem like French-speaking people.
While I greatly enjoyed a course dinner, the food here was heavily butter-cream influenced, I somehow still hesitate to go back to this place unless it’s a group dining sharing food together. When there are plenty of other options to choose, Upper Modern Bistro will hardly be my priority. However, it’s worth experiencing at least one time for its delicious food not skimping on thick, creamy sauces.(Taste 4/ Ambience 4/ Service 4.5/ Price 4/Value 4)
Verdict: Arcane fits the true definition of fine dining, so good for special celebrations. Le Bistro Winebeast has the greatest value for both price and taste. Try Lounge at Alchemy if you truly appreciate good food in an artistically decorated surroundings and go for dining in the dark if you are a real adventurer. For those who wish to focus solely on food, Serge et le phoque can be your best bet.