New restaurants in Central: classy French haute cuisine with delicious Japanese touches at Arbor
The sister restaurant to Épure, Arbor serves up fresh, flavourful French food interspersed with Japanese flourishes. Seafood is king here, but Bresse chicken and foie gras custard are also standouts
“Curses, foiled again!” I thought as the Arbor staff greeted me by name instead of the pseudonym I booked under. As I walked into the new restaurant on the 25th floor of H Queen’s, I realised I’d met at least two of the managers – one used to be at Caprice, the other at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, so I shouldn’t have been surprised that they recognised me. Arbor is a sister restaurant to Épure in Harbour City.
There are two menus: Spring (eight courses at HK$1,488 plus 10 per cent) and Arbor (nine courses for HK$$1,888) with only a couple of dishes overlapping. They gave us a third option: we were asked if we wanted the chef, Eric Räty (previously of Café Gray Deluxe) to compose a menu for us. While it was tempting, we thought that it would be too confusing for review purposes, so I chose the smaller menu while my guest had the more expensive one.
The meal opened with a perfect palate-whetting dish of Hokkaido uni with wasabi leaf on an airy rice cracker. This was followed by another light, refreshing dish of Ebisu oyster with oyster leaf, horseradish, champagne vinegar drops, buttermilk foam, pickled cucumber and plankton. The oyster was sweet and briny, the plankton enhanced the seafood taste, and the tart cucumber cleared the palate.
I loved the foie gras custard, which was smooth and light, with rhubarb and Sauternes jelly adding sweet-tart flavours, and buckwheat giving a crunchy contrast.
Green and white asparagus with finger lime and miso hollandaise was spring on a plate: top quality ingredients cooked simply but well.
My favourite dish was the blue lobster with grilled Japanese corn kernels, and a sauce of corn, lobster coral and mentaiko. It was just fantastic: perfectly cooked lobster enhanced by the sweetness of the corn, and a rich, delicious sauce that had a slight spicy kick at the back of the throat from the mentaiko.
My main course of Bresse chicken breast and thigh was meaty and moist, and served with a silky carrot purée, myoga (ginger flower) and chicken jus with sansho.
For dessert, Japanese strawberries with rice crisps, meringue and sake lees ice cream was let down by the strawberries, which were sour.
An extra course of white peach sorbet with panna cotta, shiso jelly and shiso leaves was cool and refreshing.
Arbor, 25/F, H Queen’s, 80 Queen’s Road Central, tel: 3185 8388. About HK$1,500 without drinks or the service charge.
While you’re in the area