Food: Perth born chef Shane Osborn who was awarded two Michelin stars for his work at London’s Pied-a-Tierre is having a ball in Hong Kong, where he opened Arcane in late 2014. Osborn says he is excited about living in his new adopted city, and his joy at being in Hong Kong certainly comes through in his cooking.
Using carefully selected seasonal ingredients from Japan, France, the UK and farms in Hong Kong’s New Territories, Osborn delivers really good food, that together with a remarkable wine list, will impress even the most discerning diners accustomed to frequent meals at respected fine dining establishments around the world.
Avoiding many of the clichés of nouvelle cuisine: over-the-top ingredients that strive to be edgy but fail to meet the mark, or the superfluous use of flowers and colourful sauces purely for decorative purposes, Osborn puts together dishes where every element elevates the main component. The luscious sweetness of fruit tomatoes from Fukuoka is intensified by creamy, homemade ricotta, pine nuts, green olive gremolata and sherry vinegar dressing, while the springy, almost scallop-like texture of the roast monkfish from Brittany is beautifully complimented by smooth and silky butternut squash ravioli, slightly tangy, bitter cavolo nero kale, and rich, fragrant almond and sage butter.
“We only have a single, small, open kitchen, so the menu has to be well thought out,” says Osborn. And indeed it was, as this was one of those rare meals where not a single dish disappointed.
Service: Upon entering Arcane, one immediately feels warmly welcomed. Every server greeted guests as they walked to their tables. The staff are knowledgeable and unhurried when interacting with diners, and they aren’t in any way intrusive. Stephano, the restaurant’s sommelier, takes the time to make recommendations, and wine aficionados will be thrilled to find extraordinary collector vintages such as the Chateau Petrus 1999 here.
Must try: The peppered seared tuna with crushed ratte potatoes, watercress puree, black olive and shallot dressing. The melt-in your mouth sautéed potato gnocchi with cep puree, mushroom ragout, Japanese leeks, shaved truffles and parmesan. The roast suckling pig with rainbow chard, kohlrabi, green mustard puree and winter savory sauce, which has a skin so crispy, you can make music tapping on it with your knife.
Ambience: Simple and elegant, this 32-seater restaurant is thankfully not stuffy or uncomfortably formal. Good, low lighting that still allows you to see your food clearly, and pop music in the background by the Cocteau Twins and The Cure quickly put guests at ease. The vibe is friendly and inclusive, not posh or privileged, but god is in the details – oak floors, dinnerware and stemware by Bernadaud, Zalto and David Mellor, and artwork from a London and New York based gallery. There is also a charming outdoor terrace dining area with a little garden where Osborn grows herbs, fruit and vegetables used in the kitchen.
Average price per person: HK$1,320 per person with a glass of wine
Address: Arcane, 3rd Floor, On Lan Street, Central, Hong Kong, Tel: (852) 2728-0178