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Bon Appetit: There's Plenty to Savor at Hong Kong's Best French Restaurants



Eating at French restaurants in Hong Kong you can generally count on two things: haute cuisine, and high prices. The good news is that the sizable check that will be delivered at the end of the meal is worth every cent.

Some French restaurants have been in business for years. Gaddi's is a typical example, a repository of splendid food in splendid surrounds complemented by splendid service in the Peninsula Hotel, the oldest in the city and many would say still the best. Fellow diners may well be gourmets, friends celebrating a birthday or some other significant anniversary, or simply a corporate group. But all will be relishing every morsel on their plates, and every drop in their glasses.

Of course, there are newer restaurants, such as Spoon, part of the empire of multi award winning super chef Alain Ducasse, whose galaxy of Michelin stars speak for themselves.

And then there's the new generation, propelled by a recent influx of young French people who've come to Hong Kong to seek their fortunes. Tartine is the prime example. And it's a stunner.


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Le Dome de Cristal
Photo courtesy of Le Dome de Cristal


The restaurant space is comprised of a main dining area and an Oyster and Champagne Bar for cocktails and tapas. The dining area features a menu with contemporary European cuisines, with an emphasis on French. The Oyster and Champagne Bar's slightly curved counter complements the round shape of the restaurant, and boasts a fine selection of fusion tapas, showcasing the restaurant's unique approach to combining traditional and modern elements. An outdoor terrace provides a perfect spot to enjoy the cityscape in a relaxing atmosphere. Guests can savor over 230 selected international wine labels from the Old and New world vineyards at the dining area and the bar.

Recommended for French because: There's nothing quite so good for the appetite as eating in inspiring surrounds.

Ed's expert tip: A selection of 21 Louis Roederer Champagnes awaits guests, alongside Cristal's Cristal Jeroboam 2002 limited edition.

Read more about Le Dome de Cristal →


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VEA
Photo courtesy of VEA


VEA presents modern French Cuisine by Executive Chef Vicky Cheng, a local born chef who uses seasonal ingredients familiar to Hong Kong people. The marriage of food and beverages is the entire concept of the restaurant, and each tasting menu is paired with signature cocktails by award winning Mixologist Antonio Lai.Local produce is used as much as possible with tomatoes from farms in the New Territories, seafood from local waters, as well as honey from Hong Kong's bee farmers. A private dining room is also available (seats up to 10) and has an open view of the entire dinner service in motion, making dining experiences at VEA a pure excitement.

Recommended for French because: The Chinese take on French cuisine is inspiring, as are the views from this metropolitan eyrie.

Ed's expert tip: VEA's bar is one floor below the restaurant, if you feel the need of an aperatif.

Read more about VEA →


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Tartine
Photo courtesy of Tartine


Heavily inspired by French influences, Tartine's cuisine focuses on creativity and necessity over abundance. It is all about the comforts of home, familiarity and warmth. "Let the ingredients do the talking" is the mantra of the restaurant, which is run by Michelin-starred chef Philipe Orricco. Using ingredients of the highest quality and culinary skills without frills, Tartine's tartines are all about sharing flavor, fun and passion with family and friends in a casual setting. If the fast food culture is the product of today's hectic lifestyle, Tartine is proud to be the opposite. Tartine is highly popular with young professionals of all nationalities, not just French.

Recommended for French because: This is one of the new wave of French restaurants in Hong Kong, and well worth trying.

Ed's expert tip: Grab a seat on the outdoor terrace if the weather's fine – it's got a great vibe.

Read more about Tartine →


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Amber
Photo courtesy of Landmark Mandarin Oriental


The space was designed by Adam Tihany. The executive chef is Richard Ekkebus. That should be plenty to recommend Amber, which has won a string of awards and accolades. Having built his reputation on a solid foundation of traditional French cooking techniques, Chef Ekkebus is known for his focus on superior produce and innovative presentation, creating French cuisine with a contemporary and light feel. His signature creations such as "frog legs in crispy kataifi with 'quatre epices', Nagasaki garlic and Italian parsley sabayon", "takaba grouper with 'tête de veau', barbequed bell pepper purée and seared firefly squid" and "figs over crispy honey drenched philo with Greek yoghurt, manni extra virgin olive oil and shiraz wine sorbet" continue to delight diners with every bite.

Recommended for French because: There's a very good reason why Chef Richard Ekkebus keeps winning awards, which you'll realize after a couple of mouthfuls.

Ed's expert tip: Amber is also open for breakfast, although the French influences are less obvious then.

Read more about Amber →


Restaurant Petrus


Look out over the harbor for some truly inspirational romantic dining. This 56th-floor restaurant is, perhaps, one of the true gems of the Hong Kong dining scene. The view of Hong Kong and Victoria Harbour from some of tables here is breath-taking, and often is complemented by live piano music in the background. The cuisine is contemporary French; the foie gras is a favorite. A lunch menu offers two- and three-course meals, while dinner is served; la carte, with an eight-course tasting meal available. The chef at Petrus uses only the freshest available meat and produce. Reservations are essential. MTR: Admiralty

Recommended for French because: Regulars eat here for the combination of truly excellent food and wine plus the lovely panoramas.

Ed's expert tip: Leave room for the goat cheese, which is quite stupendous.

Read more about Restaurant Petrus →


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Pierre
Photo courtesy of Mandarin Oriental


Pierre is the stunning two Michelin-starred restaurant, situated on the 25th floor that offers floor-to-ceiling windows framing Victoria Harbour and is Pierre Gagnaire's pied-à-terre in Hong Kong. Gagnaire is the wizard of innovative French gastronomy, and one of the most original and artistic chefs in the world today. His astonishingly intricate and elaborate dishes are often described as "modern French", although his style remains firmly rooted in the French cooking tradition, resulting in dishes that are exquisitely presented and utterly original. Under the watchful eye of Jacky Tauvry, Chef de Cuisine at Pierre, the menu changes seasonally, with express lunch and dégustation dinner menus served alongside the à-la-carte choices.

Recommended for French because: The Mandarin is one Hong Kong's most venerable hotels, and Pierre brings an exciting new dining experience.

Tracy You's expert tip: Pierre's open for both lunch and dinner – but in the evening the top-floor setting is at its most magical.

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L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon


Famed chef Joel Robuchon has restaurants in major cities around the world. This location follows his casual fine dining concept, where guests can sit at a diner-style counter and watch the kitchen staff in action (more conventional seating is also available in the dining room). The ambience is sleek and contemporary in black and red, with abundant use of dark wood and chrome. The dish that seems to have everyone raving is Loursin, a lofty confection of sea urchin in lobster jelly with cauliflower cream, but really, the multi-course degustation menu is the way to go that way you get to sample several of the kitchen's very best creations.

Recommended for French because: Who hasn't heard of Monsieur Robuchon? This is one of Hong Kong's must-eats.

Ed's expert tip: If L'Atelier is booked up, there's also a Joel Robuchon cafe.

Read more about L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon →


Gaddi's
Photo courtesy of Gaddis


One of the Peninsuala Hotel's many culinary stars, Gaddi's has been a fixture of the Hong Kong restaurant scene for more than 50 years, during which time it has enjoyed a fine reputation for terrific service, ambiance, and food. Expect to see an older, more established crowd here, enjoying a meal accompanied by light piano music in the background. Among the restaurant's more popular dishes, the lobster bisque seems to rise above the rest, but the Scottish lamb is equally well prepared. Gaddi's comes with a smart dress code, so it's better to spruce up; reservations are highly recommended. MTR: Tsim Sha Tsui

Recommended for French because: Gaddi's is pure class from start to finish, no question about it.

Ed's expert tip: As well as superb food, Gaddis also features a superlative wine list.

Read more about Gaddi's →


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Caprice
Photo courtesy of Caprice


The well-regarded Caprice is lovely, with tastefully opulent decor and a wonderful view over Victoria Harbour. The chef's forte is contemporary French cuisine and he imports a plethora of special ingredients to accomplish the best flavors and textures. The menu changes frequently, but expect to find dishes such as Artichoke Cappuccino with Black Truffle, Pan-Sauteed Veal Chop with Green Asparagus and Jus of Black Truffle, and Roast Chicken with Fondant Potatoes. If you're feeling decadent, splurge on the degustation menu. The impressive wine list might take some navigating – ask the sommelier for a recommendation if you are at all unsure.

Recommended for French because: There are 25 chefs at work here – not 'spoiling the broth', but making it an exquisite creation.

Ed's expert tip: Save room for some cheese, which is one of Caprice's specialities.

Read more about Caprice →


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