Have you ever eaten a meal that’s so delicious you’re tempted to stop eating so that it never ends? That’s what I felt when I dined at Arcane. The name of the restaurant means ‘discreet; understood by few’. Discreet, I will give it, since it’s tucked away on On Lan Street, so close and yet so far from the hectic city. I struggle to understand, however, the ‘understood by few’ part, since surely everyone can understand food that’s this good.
The décor is fairly non-descript. There are oak floors, crisp white linen tablecloths and one or two pieces of abstract art on the walls. The focus therefore is on the open kitchen and the food that comes out of it. On warmer evenings, there is also a beautiful terrace designed as an English tropical garden where a selection of around 30 different varieties of herbs, fruits and vegetables are grown.
The kitchen is run by multi award-winning chef Shane Osborn, who became the first Australian chef to achieve one and two Michelin stars when he worked at Pied à Terre in London. He then came to Hong Kong and managed to salvage St Betty, which was slowly dying. Having sampled Chef Shane’s cooking at St Betty, I knew from the start we were in for a treat at Arcane, his first solo venture in HK.
Having not had a drop of alcohol for over a month, it seemed only right to break our ‘dry January’ in style, enjoying a glass of Goutorbe, Brut Tradition NV Champagne. This, paired with little bowls of delicious olives, nuts and saucisson, set the scene for the evening. Our first course was a plate of Japanese fruit tomato with homemade ricotta that was simply fantastic. The tomatoes were incredibly fresh, the ricotta beautifully light and creamy, all dressed with green olive gremolata, sherry vinegar dressing, toasted pine nuts and fresh basil.
To follow, came a carpaccio of turnip with smoked eel, paired with Domaine Patrick Piuze, Terroir de Fye Chablis 2013. I probably wouldn’t have chosen turnip carpaccio had I seen it on the menu, yet, again, this was utterly delicious, the chunks of smoked eel adding a gorgeous depth of flavour and contrasting texture to the crunchy crosnes (AKA Chinese artichokes) and compressed apple.
The only thing that could have made the sautéed potato gnocchi even better is if the black truffle had been shaved at the table. Regardless, the gnocchi had a perfect, slightly chewy texture, and a superb flavour cooked with cep purée, charred cevenne onions and mushroom ragout, topped with grated Parmesan and shavings of black truffle. Fortunately for me, the other half doesn’t appreciate truffle, meaning I got double! This was paired with a beautiful Domaine Vincent Girardin, Santenay, Vielles Vignes 2011, a more intense Pinot Noir that went down a treat.
The steamed Hokkaido cod that followed was cooked to flaky perfection and came accompanied by a slightly sweet butternut squash raviolo, cavolo nero and yet more black truffle (double helpings again!), all tied together with a drizzle of almond and sage butter. Served with a glass of Eradus Sauvignon Blanc 2014, this was complete perfection.
Our favourite dish of the night was easily the roast suckling pig. The pork had been mixed with duck fat, making it incredibly tender, whilst the skin was wonderfully crispy. This was expertly paired with a glass of Villa Antinori Toscana 2012 that might also have been our favourite wine of the evening.
After a dreamy little interlude of 36-month aged comté, for dessert we tried the Manjari chocolate mousse. This was a lovely balance of rich yet light and fluffy, served with caramel cream and salted peanut ice cream, which were both equally divine. We enjoyed our dessert with a small glass of Chateau Rieussec Sauternes Grand Cru 2010 that was almost as good as the dessert itself.
As a final treat before rolling out of the restaurant, we were presented with some mini canelés fresh from the oven that completed our excellent experience at Arcane.
The service was impeccable throughout the evening. The attention to detail in absolutely everything, as well as the staff’s knowledge and passion didn’t go unnoticed. As I said at the start of this review, this was a meal that I never wanted to end, and I hope I’ll get the opportunity to relive one day in the not-too-distant future. With dishes priced between $200 to $500, your meal at Arcane won’t be a cheap one, but it will be 100% worth it. Just remember to eat slowly so it’s not over too quickly.
3/F, 18 On Lan Street
Tel: +852 2728 0178