Long-time fans of Bâtard will no doubt remember its head chef Aven Lau who introduced innovative French cuisine and arguably the best roast chicken and rice in town. After a short break from Hong Kong, the young chef is back as chef de cuisine at the one-Michelin-starred Épure in Ocean Centre – together with an elevated version of the much-loved roast chicken.
A Review of Épure
The Épure premises have undergone quite a few changes since it opened its doors in Harbour City in 2014, in particular at the front which first housed the Dalloyau patisserie, then La Brasserie and now Café Épure.
The Michelin-starred Épure, tucked away inside past the café, has remained largely unchanged except for a major change in the kitchens where Singaporean chef – and former Bâtard head chef – Aven Lau has been ensconced for the past few months creating his new menu.
Given that Lau was one of my favourite chefs in Hong Kong during his time at Bâtard, it was with high anticipation that I finally made my way to the Dark Side for a taste of his new menu. I was intrigued by how much Lau had evolved – or not – since I last had a meal cooked by him and, from the first canapé of a light and crunchy uni tart, it was evident that Lau has put his time away to good use.
The first starter of kegani crab was a visual surprise: the lime green presentation looked more like a dessert. A mouthful of three layers consisting of apple jelly, cauliflower cream, and crabmeat offers a delightful array of flavours that unfold in distinct layers. The initial burst of fruity sweetness from the apple and curry leaves jelly is followed by the smooth richness of the cauliflower cream, and finally, the savoury and oceanic essence of the crabmeat.
The glazed foie gras with Madeira-duck jelly coating and maple syrup was a luxuriously indulgent experience with its rich and complex flavours. The Madeira jelly added a savoury hint to the buttery foie gras with the crunchy toast offering a contrasting texture to it and taking away some of the richness.
Lau’s play on textures continued with his roasted scallop which was topped with strips of yari-ika (spear squid). The combination of the scallop’s softness and the squid’s slight chewiness elevated the tactile experience of the dish, that was enhanced by the sauce nero.
The langoustine and savoy cabbage generously topped with a vin jaune sauce offer a sophisticated and well-balanced dish that celebrated the natural briny taste of the langoustine as well as the earth flavours of the cabbage. Chef Lau also threw in a new off-menu dish of the Spanish sea bass with a tangy sauce that went very well together.
By popular demand, Lau’s roast chicken makes its return on his Épure menu together with his Hainan chicken rice. While the roast chicken hinted at some small differences that have elevated the dish, one constant that remains is the tenderness of the three-yellow chicken, even the white meat. The accompanying rice also offered a noticeable contrast with added mouthfeel.
We ended the meal with the elegantly presented momo peach with rosé Champagne and lemon verbena, a refreshing and light conclusion to a night of culinary discoveries. I’m happy to see that Lau has kept his presentations simple but elegant, allowing his tastes to speak. We’ll be looking forward to see more from the young chef.
Roasted scallop with yari-ika
I have to admit that I am one of those who end up getting lost in the long maze of Harbour City corridors and have developed an adverse fear of going there. So for the benefit of those similar, the best and most direct way of getting to Épure is by the escalators beside the Chanel boutique on Canton Road.
The restaurant setting has remained the same, with a private room at the end, and booth seatings as well as normal table settings. As it was a thunderous evening when we were there, we unfortunately couldn’t enjoy the harbour views as much as usual and the terrace was closed.
While Lau’s culinary offerings have obviously been elevated, it would seem that the service staff still have some catching up to do. Besides other minor infractions and service that lagged towards the end, our “sommelier” neither bothered to introduce any of the wine he poured for us nor attempt to even show us the label so we had no idea what we were paired with. Hopefully this will be remedied soon.
Price for two:
$3,400+ (excluding drinks)
Shop 403, Level 4, Ocean Centre, Harbour City, Canton Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui
Lunch: 12nn – 2.30pm; Dinner: 6.30pm – 11pm (last order 9.30pm)