Hong Kong Restaurant: Window Dressing

Above: The dining room at French Window shimmers with frosted-glass panels.

Justin Quek’s latest Hong Kong effort offers fine nouvelle cuisine and—providing you can take your eye off the plate—stunning views.

By Nicholas Walton

The newest restaurant to grace Hong Kong’s IFC mall, French Window (L/3, IFC Two, Central; 852/2393-3812) certainly delivers on its name. The eatery, conceived by local hotel and restaurant group Miramar, dishes up fancy Gallic fare, and there’s plenty of eye candy thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows that look out to Victoria Harbour and the Kowloon skyline. But where the restaurant surprises is in its thoughtful reinterpretation of classic French flavors and ingredients, in a menu that impresses as much on the plate as on the palate.

Thankfully, it doesn’t take long to forget you’re in a shopping mall. The restaurant’s entrance corridor of towering silver-and-gray timber is more Tim Burton than French château, but the dining room is elegant and neat, with frosted glass panels, suspended street-lamp chandeliers, and furnishings in muted grays and gleaming black. Singaporean chef Justin Quek, Miramar’s dining consultant, was just as instrumental in shaping the look of the restaurant as he was in crafting the menu, which he did in collaboration with young French chef Mickael le Calvez. Together, the duo came up with an exciting twist on nouvelle cuisine—a real treat in Hong Kong, where food (at least on the fine-dining circuit) often plays second fiddle to decor.

Quek and Calvez’s reconstruction of traditional French recipes retains a rich and earthy spirit, while adding visual flare and au courant ingredients. Shrimp, for instance, come dressed in a glossy avocado sphere speared with discs of tortilla; the pan-seared lamb is served in a crispy, wafer-thin potato “tunnel”; and the carpaccio—a dish I won’t soon forget—sees strips of top-grade Black Angus beef layered with buttery foie gras and slivers of black truffle. Although the service is still a little shaky and some mains, including a chicken fillet in an overpowering truffle sauce, have yet to strike the right balance, French Window is sure to have passersby pressing their noses against the glass to see what all the fuss is about.

Originally appeared in the February/March 2010 print issue of DestinAsian magazine ( “Window Dressing”)

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