Parisian super-chef Yannick Alléno opened his first Hong Kong establishment in August 2017. The cheerful bistro de luxe is surprisingly affordable given its high-end location in Central’s Prince’s Building. There’s an open kitchen, island bar and two seating areas with booths and tables. Stylish black-and-white photos line the walls, while stainless-steel tables and paper placemats reminded me of my favourite café-bistros in Paris’s Montmartre district.
Starters include obvious staples such as onion soup or ovenbaked Camembert alongside some more intriguing choices. We opted for black lentils with nutmeg crème fraîche and warm blinis (described on the menu as caviar de lentilles et blinis) and snails baked in a large mushroom cap with parsley and garlic butter (bouchées de champignons de Paris aux escargots). The flavours were smooth and delicate, the snails fantastic, the lentils perhaps a little bland, needing slightly more nutmeg. From 12 mains, we plumped for scallops cooked on a bed of rice pilaf/paella with aromatic broth (“Pilafaela” de noix de coquilles Saint-Jacques) and lamb shoulder ragout with seasonal vegetables (Navarin printanier d’agneau). The scallops were cooked to perfection but it was the meatiness of the pilaf rice – cooked in a chicken stock – that most impressed me. The lamb was smothered in fresh carrots, green beans and peas, flanked by tasty new potatoes and swimming in a delicious sauce – superb, hearty fare.
The signature dessert, a Saint-Honoré (caramelised choux pastry, kirsch custard and sweetened whipped cream) was sinfully good, especially with its creamy combinations of texture.
The wine list is exclusively French; we tried a crisp sauvignon blanc and an excellent merlot-cabernet franc blend.
VERDICT A great place that largely succeeds in replicating a Parisian bistro, albeit a very stylish one. The hearty French fare is cooked very well, presented nicely and is very good value. A fun place for an enjoyable meal in the heart of Hong Kong.