French-Japanese fusion that hits all the right notes
District: Causeway Bay
Cuisine: Contemporary French-Japanese
How Much: Six course set menu starts at $790; $880 for four glasses of wine with six courses, eight-course dinner is $1080
Best for: Lunch or dinner, fine dining or even drinks with friends (there’s an outdoor terrace!)
Must order: Nodoguro and Dry Aged Striploin
The gods must be smiling on me lately because I’ve been treated to a few fine dining experiences, and the latest is no exception. Le Rêve, a Japanese-French restaurant perched high above Causeway Bay’s cacophonic streets, treated me to one meal I won’t soon forget.
General Manager Jerry Fung, who began by expressing his admiration and affection for the restaurant and staff, presented each dish with an explanation of how Chef Israel de Freitas (“Isy”) created each portion. The presentation was honestly spectacular. Fresh bread was served upon dried Hoba leaves (Japanese Magnolia), so it would draw from the earthy aroma. A dollop of butter was perched on slabs of Fuji Volcanic Rock, which were our bread plates. As each dish arrived, we all gasped, “Wow,” because the preparation was clearly something the chef and his team did with care.
We were there to try out the six-course, all new seasonal set menu ($790; $880 for four glasses of wine with six courses, $980 for five glasses, and eight-courses dinner is $1080), but the restaurant also has an eight-course dinner, both of which are available with wine pairing options. First to arrive was a Zaru Sobu a la Chef, which was a traditional Japanese sobu noodle, paired with diced fish marinated in white miso, and a wasabi-infused foam on top. The flavour combination was perfect, with just the right amount of salty and delicious broth.
And who knew I’d be an abalone fan? When presented with Green Ocean, I found out I was! It was jade abalone from Australia served in a gorgeous blue-green shell on top of lovely black stones in a rounded Japanese bowl. It was meaty (yet not rubbery), and packed with flavour.
We then had the Nihon Risotto (you had me at risotto), cooked in Japanese fish stock. It was creamy and the Aborio rice was cooked just right, served with a massive king prawn on top that had been deliciously marinated, and then grilled.
The fish was another one to admire, as we were served Nodoguro, black throat fish that was seared on top and yet flaky on the inside, served with Hollandaise sauce and a lovely display of cut watermelon and honey melon.
Up next was a choice of Chou Farci Aux Volailles, a meal the chef was served when he was a child by his mother and grandmother. It was Chicken wrapped in a Cabbage Leaf with Porcini Fumé and Hokkaido Pumpkin. Although I opted to try the beef, my dining partners said it was really tasty and they would definitely order again. I had the Dry Aged Striploin, and for a restaurant that is not touted as a steakhouse, I was surprised at just how delicious, packed with flavour and cooked to a medium perfection. The slightly sweet mango sauce and pickled Japanese vegetables were a great complement to the dish.
As a nod to French cuisine, we were presented with Beau Paris, a dessert unlike any other I have had. The chef took an actual crème brûlée and transformed it into a cold, sweet ice cream, which was served with caramelised orange peel bits and a few pieces of lychee mint sphere (they literally popped in your mouth!).
Le Rêve, 10/F, ZING!, 38 Yiu Wa Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, 2866 1010, www.lereve.com.hk