Joël Robuchon is the global symbol of the French culinary establishment for serious foodies. L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Hong Kong was awarded three Michelin stars in 2012. The French restaurant only deserves them if I close my eyes at the too slow service and the monotone creamy focus of his food. His innovative concept of modern fine dining, an open kitchen preparing innovative small dishes while keeping the quality on a superb level, first took off in Tokyo in 2003. Since then his restaurant empire has spread around the world and earned him a record number of Michelin stars. Vegetarian options and tasting menu have popped out at Robuchon’s dining venues to accommodate contemporary tastes and dietary awareness.
Atmosphere: Sexy, modern and elegant. L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Hong Kong follows its design format of a sleek dark elegance. Black and red dominate the interior while a bright light emphasises the open kitchen. Watch the cooks frantically moving from a stove to counters – chopping, whipping and mixing complex plates. The restaurant is located in the luxurious Landmark mall. An escalator (a staple of Hong Kong) brings you into this trademark of luxurious dining. Dress smart.
Food: Complex, creamy, inventive with a local twist. The food at the L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Hong Kong often features golden leaves and other symbols of luxury. An amouse bouche like a creamy veloutè with asparagus arrives right after the generous bread basket lands in your sight, but it changes regularly. The bread and butter at Robuchon are well-known teasers for the weak willed gourmands like myself. Brioche, buttery croissant, cheese and sesame buns, nutty rolls, herbed and spiced pastries, sourdough or tippy twisted baguette with an extra naughty slab of the “JR” butter, set the stage for indulgent dining.
I start with the popular luxed up tapas-style plates as a great opportunity to try a wide range of different dishes. I was curious what was hidden in A surprise of Sologne Imperial caviar (LE CAVIAR IMPERIAL). Once you dipped into the caviar tin, spooning out crab meat softened by a fine jelly you sighed with pleasure.
I love the lobster ravioli at Robuchon in Hong Kong presented as the Maine lobster in turnip raviolis (LE HOMARD). So delicate as they melt in your mouth with a surprisingly varied rainbow of flavours. Rosemary adds depth and freshness and lightens up sometimes this too butter-dominated starter (at his signature Paris L’Atelier I had them too buttery).
Next came the Sea urchin in a lobster jelly, topped with cauliflower cream (L’OURSIN dans une délicate gelé, blanc manger de chou-fleur) turned into a culinary masterpiece. Balance and depth mixed and whipped into a creamy delicacy.
The Sea urchin risotto with spiky artichokes (LE RISOTTO ‘MANTECATO‘ aux langues d’oursin à l’artichaut épineux) revealed the soft, liver-like texture of the sea urchin more potently. Served on the top of the creamy artichoke risotto, decorated for a pomp with edible gold leafs. A spring version was a Saffron risotto with pimientos and cruciferous vegetable (Romesco, purple cauliflower, broccoli) couscous and glazed herbs. Still buttery creamy and rich like all Robuchon food.
The Pan seared sea scallops with caviar, fregola pasta and shellfish emulsion (LES SAINT-JACQUES les noix poilées/caviar, risotto de fregola et émulsion de coquillages) were more luxurious than at other Robuchon locations. Addition of caviar crowning the crisp pan seared scallops and gold leafs for a powerful statement. The caviar brought a new dimension to the scallops, soft like a feather pillow, but very filling. The rice shaped fregola pasta made into a creamy risotto blended well with the sea shells emulsion. A variation of this scallop and pasta dish is omnipresent on the menu.
For a lighter plate get the Tomato “mille-feuille” layered with crabmeat, avocado and green apple (LE CRABE en mille-feuille de tomate avec coulis verjuté). Much better that the giant starter of Crab Salad with mayonnaise coated vegetables.
Robuchon in Hong Kong makes in his decadent potato mash heritage also ultra-tasty mini Kagoshima wagyu beef and foie gras burgers with lightly caramelised bell peppers (LE BURGER au foie gras et poivrons verjutés). The secret is using top quality Japanese fatty beef cooked into an ideal juicy and flavour-bursting patty. Foie gras adds softness and caramelised bell peppers are better than onions.
The wine list is stunning. With twenty wines-by-the-glass you might be seduced instead of a bottle. The bottles have ratings from Wine Spectator (WS) as well as the Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate (WA). Beware of a 10% service charge at the restaurant even on wines! A magnum of Petrus 1961 is listed for HK$380,000 or 1992 Screaming Eagle, the Californian cult wine, for HK$220,000 or the sweet icon from Sauternes – Château d’Yquem 1921 vintage for HK$130,000 (prices as of 2012). We sipped on a Californian red Caymus Vineyards 2001. The wine was smooth, balanced and rewarding with a long finish. Next time we splurged on a bottle of red Grand Cru Burgundy, the sommelier cunningly directed us above our typical budget, yet we were rewarded deeply with the superb of the Chambertin Clos de Bèze 2006 by Rousseau.
Visits: October 2012 & April 2018
Price: Very high (small eaters can save by ordering from the small plate concept of L’Atelier or with the lunch menu).
Lunch: Mon-Sun: 12noon – 2:30pm (Last Order); Dinner: Mon-Sun: 6:30 – 10:30 pm (Last Order)
HK$280 Happy hour at LE JARDIN 6:30 – 7:30pm daily taste multiple canapés.
L’ATELIER de Joël Robuchon, Shop 401, The Landmark, Central, Hong Kong
+852 2166 9000