Artisanal breads and fresh, organic ingredients
After years of bemoaning the sugary, stodgy, overly processed bread served up by restaurants and cafes in Hong Kong, bread lovers can rejoice in the opening of Le Pain Quotidien (translated in French as “the daily bread”). With a queue out the door during lunch hours, it seems Le Pain Quotidien is already a hit with Wan Chai dwellers looking for somewhere they can enjoy lunch date with friends in a relaxed setting with affordable, healthy fodder.
Le Pain Quotidien is part of the “Lee Tung Avenue” development off Queens Road East, however, once inside, the restored wooden tables and classical background music will make you feel like you’re in a quaint European boulangerie. The big selling point is the large outdoor terrace area; decked out with greenery and fairy lights, it’s a rare oasis amidst the Wan Chai crowds and the perfect setting for a leisurely lunch catching up with your crew.
The terrace would also make a great date night spot for sharing a Tuscan Platter ($188) or Artisanal Cheese Board ($148) with a glass of vino. Inside, the restaurant has a relaxed, homely vibe and with the smell of freshly baked bread wafting through the dining area, my partner and I couldn’t wait to see what the menu had in store.
To start, we ordered the Homemade Tomato Soup ($68), a generous portion served up with two slices of organic bread, this would make a lovely light lunch in itself and was enough to share between two as a starter.
Next up was the mains, and in a city that doesn’t exactly excel at baking (sorry Hong Kong!); the bakers at Le Pain Quotidien have nailed it with their delicious range of tartines (open-faced sandwiches). It was a struggle to choose just one; Avocado & Spicy Shrimp ($108), Herbed Farmers Cheese & Smoked Salmon ($128)… I wanted them all!
After much deliberation I, finally settled on a Chicken Curry & Cranberry Tartine ($88) with carrot, sunflower seeds, scallions and mint cranberry-harissa chutney. I was worried that the mixture of curry and bread would be too heavy and send me into a post lunch coma; however the curry filling was light and fragrant with the carrots and sunflower seeds adding a nice crunchy texture to the dish.
For those looking for a heartier main course, Le Pain Quotidien has a selection of hot dishes that offer comfort food favourites with a modern twist. We were especially tempted by the Meatballs à la Liègeoise (168), but determined to leave room for dessert, we turned our attention towards the range of gorgeous organic salads.
For those on a health kick, the Quinoa Detox ($118) and The Raw Asian ($108) salads are packed full of superfood, wholesome goodness, however we decided to see how they put their stamp on a classic Chicken Cobb ($108). Made with fresh, seasonal ingredients, this protein packed salad is nourishing and satiating with huge chunks of avocado, slices of tender chicken, crispy bacon and egg, while the tangy blue cheese scattered throughout adds a wonderful sharpness without overpowering the flavour. Served up with more of Le Pain Quotidien’s granary goodness, we were full, satisfied, and couldn’t possibly have room for dessert….
Until we got a severe case of food jealously watching all the pretty, colourful fruit tarts coming out of the kitchen, and so decided to finish off with the Strawberry Tart ($48); a little piece of heaven with light, crumbly pastry and a creamy vanilla filling topped with fresh, juicy strawberries. Indulgent without being overly rich, we finished our meal feeling relatively guilt-free and are already planning a return trip to sample the rest!
If you’re looking for a relaxed, yet elegant dining experience, then Le Pain Quotidien is the perfect spot for you. The food is superb quality, liberally portioned, and with most mains ranging from $88 – $168, it’s great value for money. I really fell in love with the beautiful terrace space, and look forward to taking my girlfriends here to sample the brunch menu soon!
As Le Pain Quotidien is already a popular spot that doesn’t take reservations, be sure to arrive early to avoid queueing with the lunch crowd. Or if you are grabbing a bite on the go, they have a fantastic range of take-away tartines and salads, as well as croissants, brioche and every other type of pastry treat you can imagine.
Le Pain Quotidien, Lee Tung Avenue, Ground floor, 40 – 41, 200 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai, Hong Kong; 2520 1801, www.lepainquotidien.com.hk