Arcane, a “mysterious and secretive” restaurant located at the end of a cul-de-sac in the heart of Central. Firstly, I must admit – I am one of the foodie noobs that didn’t really pay much attention to the opening of this discreet restaurant. I did not pay attention to how many Michelin stars the chef won, nor have I dined at his previous restaurant at St. Bettys. My first encounter with Arcane was at the Taste of Hong Kong restaurant festival where I tried their food on polystyrene plates in the rain. It was delicious. So I bookmarked the restaurant and fast forward a few months, here I am.
When we exited the elevator door there was just a wall of wine bottles to greet us, with no signage other than the tiny plaque on the reception. Inside, the tables are huddled closely in the cozy dining space, with a terrace garden outside to obscure view of the concrete building next door. Despite the “simple” design, there were many elements that showed off the chef’s attention to detail. One worthy mention is the lovely thick linen tablecloths that were perfectly ironed out, something usually only found at hotel restaurants due to the added costs and labour. The table cloth was so crisp and lovely to touch that I literally picked up the breadcrumbs I dropped on the table so they wouldn’t ruin it.
To start our meal we went with their signature potato gnocchi. This was one of the dishes I tried at Taste of HK, and I absolutely loved the earthy flavours of the dish. Fluffy potato gnocchi pillows with crispy outsides bathed in an earthy, umami packed mushroom ragout topped with crispy onion. A great way to start the evening!
After an earthy dish we choose something from the sea; the scallops were sweet and delicate and sitting in a lime “soup” that was well-balanced and not too acidic. The avocado and sesame crisps added extra texture and flavour. Overall the balance of flavours was genius and the presentation was very attractive. Definitely one of my favourite dishes.
Our first main dish was the braised short rib. The beef was extremely tender and broke easily with a fork. The sweet potato purée added a bit of colour and the sweetness helped to cut through the fatty wagyu beef. The sides were simple greens and beans which were decent.
When I saw rabbit on the menu I knew I just had to choose that. This was the only dish that no one wanted to share which was fine with me cause it was so damn good. For those who have never had rabbit, the best description is that it resembles super tender chicken. I felt the presentation of the dish was the weakest with all the bits of black scattered everywhere, but the flavour was definitely top-notch. All the angry stares and protests can’t take away from how awesome this dish was.
When looking at the dessert menu I couldn’t help but feel that the desserts felt very similar. 3 of the 5 desserts involved nectarine, tangerine, apricots, pears with nuts and ice cream of some sort. I quite like sour desserts so I picked the one I hoped would be the most sour of the menu and I was correct. The yuzu and lemon had a sharp acidity which is great when you’re full after a hefty meal.
For our other dessert we went with the chocolate mille-feuille. I had to say that I wasn’t impressed with this dish. Compared to the other items we had, this dish seemed to lack flavour and didn’t feel very interesting. The chocolate was not rich enough and felt like those cheap chocolate wafers you can buy from the supermarket. The chestnut flavour in the icecream was not obvious at all. The cherries were nothing special either (perhaps because they’re not in season).
Overall we had a pleasant dining experience at Arcane. The combination of flavours and textures were interesting and the service was splendid. Screw mysterious and secretive – this is definitely a restaurant that deserves to be known.
Tel: 2728 0178
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri: 12:00-14:00; 18:30-22:30 Sat: 18:30-22:30 Closed on Sun
Cover image taken from Arcane website