December 15, 2022

Boys are back in town

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Julien Royer is back in town after a three-year absence, joining forces with Franckelie Laloum at Louise for three nights. The last time Julien was in Hong Kong, Four Sheets came to dinner at Louise with Little Rabbit while I was at Odette with The Dining Austrian. Tonight, I finally got to see him again.

I was pleasantly surprised while looking at the menu, because Julien had chosen to give Franckelie top billing instead of reserving it for himself. He knows very well that many of us had come on account of him, yet he was very respectful of his "local" chef. Kudos to him.

First we have the grignotages - the series of small bites for us to "graze" on...

Mini taco with botan shrimp, avocado - very crispy shell. The shrimp itself was nice and tasty, with a good texture. The herbs which included perilla added a wonderful fragrance.

French toast with sea urchin - the perfume of that dot of yuzu (柚子) on top hit me even before this was in my mouth, and it provided a nice accent on the sea urchin. The French toast was certainly fatty and sinful, with just a hint of sweetness.

Chestnut and cep cromesqui with bellota ham - love the deep-fried potato with the liquid center that was so, so delicious.

Comté gougère with black truffle - a little on the salty side.

Jacques Cocollos oysters: light dashi jelly, green curry, golden Kristal caviar - the lightly-poached Irish oyster sat on a dashi (出汁) jelly with a sprinkle of sudachi () zest and a nage of apple and curry leaves. Topped with a quenelle of Kaviari Kristal caviar as well as discs of apple, shallots, and curry leaves.

The smell of curry leaves was pretty prominent and hit us before the plates were laid down. The oysters had good briny flavors but they weren't too heavy. This worked very well with the green and fruity flavors of the apple.

Hokkaido scallop: Pontoise cabbage and honey peas, salmon roes, lemon bergamot 'beurre blanc' - the pan-seared scallop was smothered in a sea of lemon beurre blanc, which was dominated by the punch of bergamot oil. I did love the acidity of the lemon, which managed to balance nicely with everything.

Langoustine ravioli 'comme un dumpling': leek fondue, vin jaune, Alba white truffle - the leek fondue was seasoned with Kampot pepper, and the foam was made of beurre noisette and soy sauce, which was further mixed with a sauce made of vin jaune and katsuobushi (鰹節). This was acidity and fruity. Alba white truffle was shaved on top, and one would never complain about that!

The raviolo came with a perilla leaf which added just a touch of its fragrance. The texture of the langoustine was bouncy and springy. Very nice.

Line caught turbot: saffron potato gnocchi, reduced rock fish jus, kaffir lime - besides the fish that was fully-cooked which the ladies didn't care for but I found OK, there was a multitude of accompaniments that include fennel purée, lemon condiment, garlic chips, and a sauce made of fish soup reduction, preserved lemon, fennel, razor clams, kaffir lime and kaffir lime leaves, and verbena oil. The fragrance of verbena and kaffir lime was really lovely.

We were shown the whole pithivier for our next course.

Tourte gourmande: 'Bresse' poularde, pigeon and foie gras, 'Périgueux' sauce - besides the poularde, foie gras de canard, and the pigeon, there was also the farce of chicken, trompette de la mort, lardo di Colonnata, and Amaretto. Grilled maitake (舞茸) on the side. Finished with classic sauce Périgueux. Very, very nice. Exactly what I want in this season.

Wakayama citrus: fresh and confit, fromage blanc cream, orange olive oil emulsion, ginger ice cream - I really, really loved this dessert. Lots of citrus flavors from mikan (蜜柑), Okinawa lime (シークワーサー), pomelo... Worked so well with the cream and the kick from ginger ice cream.

Madeleine -

Canelé -

Chef Julien generously treated us to a glass of Champagne to start:

JM Sélèque Solessence, dégorgée septembre 2021 - kinda closed at first, opened to be opulent, with a tiny bit of flint on the nose and reasonable ripeness on the palate. Acidity was there starting from mid-palate after about 30 minutes in the glass. Opened further to show a little marmalade, and another 10 minutes later this was more grippy on the finish.

As the restaurant has a policy of requiring the purchase of a bottle in order to open a BYO bottle, I chose not to open the white wine I brought, but ordered a bottle of white I don't see very often:

2019 Chavost Coteaux Champenois Blanc - decanted and served right away. Very, very heavy toast... actually I joked that I felt like I was chomping on a plank of toasted oak. Flint, really big and powerful on the palate. With lots of green apple, surprisingly. Grippy on the palate. Really needs time to mellow out a little.

2001 BOND Melbury - served 1 hour after decanting. Very sweet nose with plenty of coconut butter, tropical and exotic nose, and also vanilla oak. First few sips still felt kinda tannic. Softened up to drink very nicely, and showing its elegance. Pretty minty, too.

A pretty happy meal, especially with that pithivier. Given Four Sheets has never had a chance to dine at Odette, I would definitely want to go back with her one of these days. Next year, then!

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