Arcane restaurant in Hong Kong delivers on all fronts

Arcane’s seasonal menu means ingredients are key – some are even fresh from its terrace

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 April, 2017, 12:08pm
UPDATED : Monday, 03 April, 2017, 12:08pm

Many à la carte restaurants set high expectations with impeccable plating, but fail to deliver in flavour. Arcane does not have that problem.

Favouring a classic Western palate, dishes are consistently delicious and, while sophisticated, are designed to let the ingredients shine.

Ingredients are key to Arcane’s signature, as most are imported from Japan, Europe and Australia and inform a seasonal menu. Others are grown in-house: Alfresco dining on the terrace allows a peek at Australian founder Shane Osborn’s garden, where he grows herbs, fruits and vegetables.

Intended to be a hideaway from streetside noise and crowded malls, Arcane balances quiet tables on the terrace with an open kitchen that reveals a glimpse at the action.

The set lunch comes in two or three courses (HK$310 and HK$380) and starts with a salad of salt cod mousse, flaked salmon, celery, toasted almond and radish – or the poached taiyouran egg with shiitake, broccoli and truffle. We opted to share both – and neither disappointed.

For mains, you can opt for the pan-fried seabream served with capers and watercress, which frame the oily fish well, or braised wagyu beef with roast red onion and bacon. The latter was superbly tender. If Arcane ever offers a Sunday roast, we’ll be first in line.

While the hazelnut praline mousse with creme fraiche and passion fruit sorbet was as good as it sounds, we recommend the saint foin à la sauge (saint foin cheese with sage), with pear chutney, and fennel-topped, home-made toasted lavoche.

The food delivered on expectations (Osborn is the first Australian chef to achieve one and two Michelin stars) but the wines exceeded them.

Arcane manager Stefano Bartolomei has a Masters in oenological and viticultural science and is caretaker to an extensive wine cellar of over 1,000 bottles, many of which are Burgundies.

Paired with the lunch set are two Italian wines: the Tenuta Guado al Tasso was aromatic and light, while the Prunotto wasn’t too heavy to quaff midday.

A haven for diners with special requirements, Arcane’s dinner menu is almost 50 per cent vegetarian, and its meat-free-Monday menu boasts seven courses. Himself allergic to shellfish, Osborn takes particular care of guests with food intolerances.