The best croissants in Hong Kong? We’ve found ‘em!
Le Salon Restaurant et Croissanterie is one of the new eateries to set up shop in Causeway Bay’s Hysan Place mall… and is it too soon to be picking favourites?! The latest brainchild of local restaurateur and chef Tony Cheng (the man behind The Drawing Room, Hainan Shaoye and AMMO), Le Salon dishes up classic authentic French bistro food, all made with the finest ingredients and finesse to spare… and the most delicious croissants you’ll find in HK too.
The croissants are made fresh in-house each morning with top quality imported French butter and flour (in a heart-attack inducing 50:50 ratio), are double-baked for an extra crunchy outside and come in four flavours – Chestnut, Chocolate, Caramel and Tiramisu. Every time I thought I’d found my favourite, a new one jumped into the picture – first the wonderfully more-ish caramel one dusted with sea-salt… then another coated with salted caramelised hazelnuts and with decadent Valrhona chocolate cream oozing out… then the mellow sweetness of the chestnut cream one… I’m still having buttery flaky mouth-watering dreams about all of them. I can feel an addiction forming – and at $20 each, it’s an all too affordable (if not exactly healthy) one! Only 300 of these beauties are made each morning and they come out at 11.30am – run, don’t walk ladies (but leave some for me)!
Onto the food itself, and it’s traditional French favourites all the way. Tony has done away with fancying things up purely for the sake of it, meaning you’re left with dishes where the flavours and ingredients speak entirely for themselves.
Appetiser-wise, I loved the escargots with tomato compote, garlic butter and brioche toast – the bread soaked up all those wonderful garlicky French flavours making for a delicious dish, and it was nice to see something slightly more inventive than the usual garlic escargots served over mashed potato.
My other early favourite was the beef tartare, with a hidden jewel of a quail’s egg secreted inside. This had the perfect texture – not too mushy or too chunky – and the crispy salty frites on the side were the ideal accompaniment. Compared to these dishes, the mussels a la Marinese fell a little short; we ended up having seconds of both the escargots and beef tartare!
Next was a traditional bouillabaisse with sauce rouille. For me, the soup was a little bland and under-seasoned; the star of the dish was the giant meaty prawn sitting in the centre.
We were served a veritable meat feast of mains – a beef bourguignon, burgundy coq au vin and duck leg confit. The beef had been cooked and marinated for 36 hours… and it showed! It practically melted in the mouth and was a rich intense and indulgent treat.
However, the headline act was the duck. There may have been a small fight over who got to eat the most of that amazing addictive crispy skin. The meat itself was fork-tender, sweet, juicy, not too fatty and utterly absolutely delicious. A couple more roasted potatoes wouldn’t have gone amiss but this is definitely a dish I’d come back for… and not want to share!
To be honest, I could have easily just had a couple (dozen) more croissants for dessert but Tony instead dished up Le Salon’s signature brûlée waffle with strawberries and fresh cream. This reminded me of the similarly sinful deep-fried brioche at AMMO, except with an even more indulgent crème brûlée topping (yes, that satisfying crackle when fork hits sugar was very much in evidence!). Le Salon’s version was surprisingly light but not quite guilty pleasure inducing enough for me.
Le Salon has created an intimate but chic 40-seat dining space in the already bustling mall, with a hushed atmosphere, plush sofas, dim lighting and stellar views over Happy Valley. They also have a private VIP room that seats 10, as well as a more casual café set-up outside where you can grab a cup of premium coffee and croissant on the fly. With dishes costing around $150-300 and two or three course set lunches ($188 or $268), I reckon it’s pretty good value for top drawer food.
I think the croissants are set to become a bit of a cult in Hong Kong… and deservedly so! But don’t forget about the rest of the menu, as this is unpretentious French dining at its best.
Le Salon Restaurant et Croissanterie Shop 1302, 13/F, Hysan Place, 500 Hennessy Road, Causeway Bay