I've been eating Philippe Orrico's food since he was chef at Pierre at the Mandarin Oriental. While I always liked what was on my plate, it was difficult to know where the cuisine of his Parisian mentor Pierre Gagnaire ended and his own began.
It wasn't until Orrico left Pierre to become chef of St George in Hullett House that I realised he was not only an excellent cook, but also very creative - I still remember how excited I was at some of his unusual but delicious flavour pairings.
His latest venture, Upper Modern Bistro, in a rapidly gentrifying area of Sheung Wan, is more modest than St George, which was in a heritage building. The space, with an open kitchen, looks as if it was two shops that have been merged.
Tables are close together, so don't expect much privacy - we ended up having conversations with the two sets of strangers on either side of us.
I had a hard time deciding what to order from the tempting menu.
The 63° egg with sautéed mushrooms, crabmeat and bellota ham (HK$148) sounds technical and modernist, but it was pure comfort food. The slow-cooked egg, with its deliciously runny yolk, was perched on top of a piece of toast, which gave textural contrast to the other ingredients.
My guest's lentil soup (HK$158) sounded dull, but it was the lightest lentil soup I've tasted, and served with slices of smoked salmon on toast.
My guest and I both wanted the main course of quail and foie gras pie (HK$398), so we shared it. It was excellent - chunks of moist meat studded with pieces of tender foie gras, all wrapped in flaky pastry. The side salad (not mentioned on the menu) was covered with shavings of black truffle.
Spring chicken demi-deuil ("half-mourning" - so-called because of the veil of thin slices of black truffle under the bird's skin, HK$328) came showered with even more black truffle that had been shaved over the dish just before it was served.
Desserts were excellent, especially the innocuous sounding mandarin salad (HK$108). It was a beautiful dish, with many components - fresh mandarin fruit, jelly, sorbet, frozen cream, white chocolate ganache, candied hazelnuts, with an anise flavour and decorated with fresh pansies.
Service, for the most part, was good, although one waiter was intrusive and a little too eager, clearing my plate as soon as I'd put the last bite in my mouth.
Upper Modern Bistro, Elegance Court, 6-14 Upper Station Street, Sheung Wan, tel: 2517 0977. Open: Monday to Saturday noon-11pm (Saturday from 11.30am). About HK$700 without drinks or service charge