Hong Kong: Le Salon de Thé de Joël Robuchon


Joël Robuchon doesn’t need much introduction. I’m sure he’s had enough extolment and recognition. But lets just say that it’s my turn to give him his due commendation and utter respect.
I watched Joël Robuchon’s biography on the SIA plane not too long ago. He came from a very humble background, growing up as one of the four children in the charmingly pastoral Poitiers, France. He had initially wanted to become a pastor, but worked as a cook instead in order to bring home some money. His early days in the church thought him values of perennial importance – strong work ethic and the ability to work with others with courtesy and respect. He rose through the ranks quickly, becoming the official chef of Le Tour de France at the age of 20. He was able to travel throughout the country, learning a variety of diverse regional techniques and in the process, developing his palate into a more sophisticated one. At 31, he became the youngest chef to win the Meilleur Ouvrier de France for his craftsmanship in Culinary arts. In 1989, he was awarded “Chef of the Century” by Gault Millau. He opened his first restaurant Jamin in 1981, and received 3 Michelin stars in 3 years – a feat never seen before in gastronomy. As of today, with 28 Michelin stars, he is the only chef to hold such a worldwide record.
What struck me the most was Joël Robuchon’s professionalism and rigour. Coming from a humble background, Joël Robuchon had to learn every skill in gastronomy from scratch. He knew nothing about what “good” food tastes like, let alone anything about cooking. Furthermore, he had to withstand the harsh working conditions and poor sanitation of the kitchens – something which he sought to change when he became executive chef – in which many young boys like him worked for a living. But his drive for perfection gave him the advantage of standing out from the crowd. Indeed, nothing compelled this bricklayer’s son to walk off with al those titles and rewards. But he embraced the opportunity that he was given and made the most out of it.
There are mainly 3 types of Joël Robuchon Restaurants – the luxurious fine dining Joël Robuchon restaurant, the more casual L’Atelier Joël Robuchon in which diners are made to feel at ease with its open kitchen concept, and Le Cafe Joël Robuchon or Salon de Thé Joël Robuchon for a simple everyday meal. My family has long been a fan of Joël Robuchon. We’d find ourselves in a Joël Robuchon restaurant in every city that we go, and thank God for one in Singapore! But our absolutely favourite would be the L’Atelier. Not too classic, yet not too laid-back either, L’Atelier achieves just the right balance of elegance that makes a diner feel at home. We absolutely love engaging with the chefs and watching each and every move in the kitchen space as the chefs move with a degree of gracefulness yet efficiency, plating each plate creatively yet meticulously. But rest assure, in all 3 different types of restaurants, other than the outstanding service of course, the bread basket that they serve is out of the world and simply mind blowing. The brioche is buttery, light and airy and melts right in your mouth, the croissant, buttery as well, lends a slight textural difference with its twirls of pastry, the baguettes and sourdoughs are wonderfully crunchy on the outside and soft in the inside. Apart from the basic types of bread, they have different flavors of brioche including basil and saffron, bacon baguette, and cheese bun. Although the selection of bread differs from each restaurant (the fine dining restaurant would have the most, and the café would have the least), whatever is available is of the most exception and incomparable quality, and your view and perspective on bread will be transformed utterly. (Maison Kayser comes in 2nd :))
We found ourselves at Le Salon de Thé de Joël Robuchon at the Landmark as we wanted a break from the haute cuisine that we had been having during the past few days in Hong Kong. Simple menu, nothing pretentious – salads, soups, burgers, sandwiches – everything for a comforting meal. Although we had to wait for about 15 minutes for a table, the waiter kindly offered to take down our orders so that we could have food on our table as soon as we were seated.
Bread to start with of course 🙂
Fresh tomato mozzarella salad with olive oil and basil oil (HK$140). Light, refreshing and perfectly seasoned, the ingredients spoke by itself.  I absolutely love this particular combination of ingredients as they complement one another so perfectly. The sweet juicy tomatoes balanced the slightly creamy and briny mozzarella, and they’re flavours intensified just by a mere drizzle of quality olive oil. And the basil leaves, the fresh and invigorating smell completes the entire dish that is well-balanced in every aspect of the 5 senses.
Tomato spaghetti with <<pistou>> condiments (HK$170). (Pistou is a Provençal cold sauce made from cloves of garlic, fresh basil, and olive oil) Perfectly cooked al dente pasta. Nothing more, nothing less, just a comforting dish.
Crabmeat with avocado and tomato confit (HK$48). This was packaged in a chic red box, complementing the stylish design of red and black of Joël Robuchon’s restaurant. When it first arrived, we were confused and puzzled and didn’t know how to take it out. But well, yes we found our way around in in the end. Cute packaging I would say! Maybe even possible for one on the go I’m guessing?  It is absolutely remarkable how they managed to do each intricate layer so perfectly, the right width and thickness with just the right amount of filling. The bottom was a wonderful surprise of pastry layer which provided a slight crunch admist the softness of all the other ingredients.
Crispy Pocket with Tuna and Cheese (HK$72). I really love sandwiches – anything in between bread is always a treat for me 🙂 This was wonderfully made. It was extremely crispy and crunchy that every bite was a crackle. The inside was a substantial amount of fresh tuna (and certainly not those from a can!) surrounded by melted gooey cheese. Yummy 🙂
Last but not least, cappuccino to end the meal.
They do have ready-made sandwiches at the counter if you’re on the run, and also a small bakery with pastries and cakes. And they have a reputable high-tea set if you have time on your hand.
Joël Robuchon is known for his relentless perfectionism of French cuisine, always keeping in mind that a balance must be struck between the excessive and reductionism. He draws his inspiration from the simplicity of the cuisine to create a delicate style respectful of natural food ingredients. Indeed, Joël Robuchon has not only become a guide of the culinary world, he has also undoubtedly become the most influential French chef of the post-nouvelle cuisine era, a source of inspiration and a model chef for many young gastronomists whom he mentored, including Gordon Ramsay and Eric Ripert, and maybe you and I.
Le Salon de Thé de Joël Robuchon
Shop 315, 3/F, The Landmark
15 Queen’s Road, Central 
This entry was posted in Breakfast/Brunch, Cafe, French, Hong Kong, Lunch, Quick/Easy, Travel to eat! :), Vegetarian and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Hong Kong: Le Salon de Thé de Joël Robuchon

  1. bluebalu says:

    Looks very yummy – thanks for sharing!

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