With its distinctive brightly-colored ingredient displays, shiny reflective surfaces, bright red furniture, and seasonally-appropriate panoramas inside the chef's counter, Robuchon's 3-Star restaurant in Hong Kong delivered a quality (if predictable, and somewhat overly traditional) French meal. The dining room wraps around the kitchen in a nice, transparent setup that makes you feel like an observer (but definitely not a participant). Fascinatingly, throughout the entire meal, the head chef barks at his staff in French, and they reply.
HONG KONG, CHINA
PRICE PAID: $98 PP (LIST PRICE- PRE-CHALLENGE)
FINAL SCORE: 7.5/10
Set inside The Landmark, likely the nicest mall in Hong Kong (a good clue is that Otto E Mezzo, another 3-Star, is right across the hall), L'Atelier is up a set of escalators that sit idly until we trip their proximity sensor and they smoothly start up, bringing us up the short flight. A very nice team of three people greets us and takes us to our seats at the counter.
As many of you know, I tend to obsess over bread, so I got pretty fired up about this bread basket. Every conceivable variety of European breads, accompanied by some damn fine butter. 8/10.
The amuse-bouche came out next- a small soup with Parmesan foam and a base of foie gras. Heavy but flavorful. The small, deep-fried ball of bread was extremely tasty. 8/10 overall.
Next, a very pretty presentation of chilled corn soup- Japanese sweet corn for extra sweetness, smoked duck breast for saltiness, chili powder for spice, and popcorn for crunchy texture. Textures and flavors all pulled together extremely well, and the dish was served quite cold. My only complaint was that this was a huge quantity of soup, but I guess that can't be too bad of a thing. 8/10.
Le Homard soup with a clear, somewhat spicy broth, with strong flavors of ginger and celery. The dumplings are prepared in "Tsukune" style; basically a meatball typically skewered and grilled over charcoal in yakitori restaurants, and typically made with chicken. The dumplings have a "squeaky" texture that feels like they're full of hundred of tiny air bubbles; a very cool effect. The lobster itself is okay- chewy and not terribly flavorful. The flowers off to the left are kind of neat but give the impression that someone was just sort of trimming the hedges and had a pretty stalk left over that they decided to toss next to the soup for no particular reason. I'm trying to say that it looked nice in the same way that any brightly colored thing would have looked nice, and didn't make a ton of sense. 7/10.
Flagrantly saffron-ed, this risotto was danced up with a pretty excellent collection of seaweed, lettuce, and pimiento peppers (the ones that flavor pimento cheese). Rich, big mouthfeel from all the cauliflower and broccoli pieces, which are on the underdone side, which actually further enhances texture. Very fun. 8/10.
The main dish- a Challans duck (known for its tenderness- they grow up along the canals near Vendée in France on a diet of snails and tadpoles, so they're usually pretty tasty). Overall, surprisingly undercooked- I nearly sent it back for another go on the grill. 6/10. A disappointing main dish.
A lovely brick of crispy chocolate with ice cream, nuts, carefully-cut leaf-shaped crisps, and, hey, why not, a small folded bit of silver paper. 7/10.
Lovely, extremely fresh Petit Fours/Macarons/Pâte de Fruits. Bright raspberry flavors from the Pâte de Fruits. 8/10.
I don't usually partake, but they offered complimentary coffee on the way out, which was completely lovely. All in all, a pretty amazing meal for less than $100!