June 15, 2009

Macarons au Salon de Thé de Joël Robuchon

Jon was working late tonight, so I decided to treat myself to a picnic dinner from Le Salon de Thé de Joël Robuchon, the café/boulangerie/pâtisserie (i.e. cheaper version) of l'Atelier de Joël Robuchon. Robuchon is perhaps the most famous chef in the world, and the most Michelin-starred. I'm saving up and dreaming of a meal at l'Atelier*, but in the meantime, Le Salon de Thé will have to suffice. In truth, the prices at the Salon are very reasonable. HK$12 (US$1.5) for a croissant, HK$45 (US$5.75) for a ham and Emmental cheese baguette sandwich, HK$8 (US$1) per macaron.


Croissant was luxuriously buttery and flaky, but nothing special from other premium bakeries in town.

The sandwich could have benefitted from toasting, as the baguette was chewy rather than crusty, but the complex taste of the bread redeemed it. It might have been also because it was the end of the day, and the bread was not as fresh. I didn't mind too much, but I do wonder if Robuchon should be held to a higher standard due to his Michelin-starred reputation?

Macarons...oh, my, goodness. I fell in love with these at first bite. The outside shells are perfectly decent - full of almondy sweetness, but it is the filling where Robuchon excels. Instead of a heavy ganache, the macarons are filled with the lightest and most fragrant of buttercreams. The salted caramel macaron sent a shiver down my spine. It is so rare that food stops me in my tracks; it was like experiencing a religious revelation, - and I've had good macarons before, from many places, including Maison du Chocolat in Paris, and Pierre Hermé. This was something extraordinary. Amazing. My favourites were the passion fruit & chocolate, salted caramel, and rose flavoured ones. In my feeding frenzy, I only managed to take photos of the final two macarons (I ate 8 in one sitting. They're really bite-sized jewels.)

* Of the various celebrity chef restaurants in Hong Kong, Robuchon's is the only one which I am truly interested in (i.e. the only one I would save up to eat at; I wouldn't turn my nose up at invitations to the others, though!). Spoon by Alain Ducasse is a bit too avant-garde for me (I'm paying a premium for the chef's creativity and originality; I don't expect a pick-and-mix system) and Nobu, well, though I love Japanese cuisine, I'm not a big fan of fusion.

June 13, 2009

Sift dessert bar

Sift is a popular dessert bar in SoHo, Hong Kong. It only serves desserts and drinks; its specialties are chocolate desserts. Pictured above is the Sift chocolate cake. It has chocolate ganache, chocolate sponge, dark chocolate coating, and crushed French crispy crepes (crêpes dentelles de Bretagne). It was so decadent, but it was so smooth that you savored every lingering taste on your tongue.

This was my second visit to Sift. I first visited about a year ago and was very impressed by the desserts. In particular, the Sift chocolate cake, with its delicious crushed crispy crepes dentelles had me dreaming for days afterwards...

I went back this week with some friends. We sat at the bar this time, where we could see the food being prepared (recommended as it's a fascinating process), but last time we sat outside, which is nice when the weather is cooler. It reminds me of New York.

The only question I would have is why the menu seemed almost exactly the same one year later. It would be good to keep the signature desserts (chocolate cake), but it would be nice to have some other choices beside chocolate and strawberries -- perhaps green tea, chestnuts, lavender, apricot, dates, almonds, pistachios...some more adventurous choices would be appreciated. Chocolate and berries are nice, but to be truly innovative! Sift has not yet shown that much creativity. Good presentation does not equal creativity.

46 Graham Street, Central, Hong Kong