Two-Michelin-starred chef David Toutain’s first restaurant outside France, Feuille is an ode to the beauty of seasonal vegetables
Surely one of THE openings of the year, Feuille – pronounced similarly to “fer yah”, meaning “leaf” in French – marks Chef David Toutain’s first restaurant outside his native France, a partnership with ZS Hospitality. This seems like a match made in culinary heaven, with the F&B group counting some of our favourite fine-dining restaurants as part of its portfolio – one-starred Hansik Goo and Whey and two-starred Ying Jee Club amongst them.
Feuille’s understated, elegant interior features warm natural tones with wood accents
The Feuille tasting menus
Feuille is a natural extension of Chef Toutain’s two-starred restaurant in Paris, which has also been awarded a Michelin Green Star in recognition of the chef’s eco-friendly approach. At Feuille, Chef Toutain celebrates seasonal, local ingredients in a pioneering vegetable-focused Menu Terroir (HK$1,599/person; +HK$988 for 7-glass wine pairing) – with around 80 per cent of the produce sourced in the 852 from small purveyors – where every part of the fruit and veg is utilised. In the future, the chef hopes to rent land in the New Territories to form a true local partnership.
Bringing Chef Toutain’s dream to fruition at Feuille is Executive Chef Joris Rousseau. Prior to this collaboration, Chef Rousseau worked alongside renowned chefs in France including Yannick Alléno at his three-starred Cheval Blanc Courchevel and Pavillon Ledoyen and Christophe Bacquié at his eponymous three-starred restaurant.
The multi-course tasting menu evolves beautifully like the life cycle of a plant, beginning with small plates featuring grains and seeds, moving on to more substantial dishes where leaves, steams and roots are the stars, followed by desserts spotlighting flowers and fruits and ending with a selection of petits fours dubbed “Origins”. Sustainably sourced meat and seafood from local farms and fishermen play important supporting roles. There’s also a 100% vegetarian version of the menu – the Menu Vegetal (HK$1,350/person) – on offer.
The showstopping seasonal dishes we sampled included:
Chia Seeds – Lemon Tree Kombucha: our palates were awakened with this bright, vibrant cold soup made with house-fermented kombucha containing jasmine tea flavoured with the leaves of the lemon tree. The chia seeds floating atop are cooked with citrus leaf, with drops of citrus oil finishing this refreshing dish.
Flaxseed – Mulberry – Stellaire: like all the dishes at Feuille, the rustic yet refined presentation is simply stunning, incorporating many natural elements. We loved the ultra-crisp tartlet shell of these one-bite beauties, made with potato and flaxseed. The shell is filled with a crimson mulberry sphere – an earthy mixture of mulberry and beetroot purée, dried mulberry and tangy mulberry-vinegar jelly. The tartlet is garnished with stellaire (aka chickweed), a wildflower native to Hong Kong.
Quinoa – Sweet Potato – Thyme: a table favourite, this is inspired by a similar dish served at Chef Toutain’s Paris restaurant. At Feuille, the humble sweet potato replaces Jerusalem artichoke. Deep-fried sweet potato skin is stuffed with a comforting sweet potato purée accented with the warming flavours of cinnamon and thyme. A lovely juxtaposition of textures.
Mustard Seed – Shiso – Sea Grape: truly a celebration of nature’s bounty, this dish showcases shiso-leaf tempura complemented by lovage mayonnaise, sea grape, coriander jelly, mustard seed, crème fraîche, finger lime, dill, chervil and nasturtium leaf. Delicate yet packed with flavour.
Cumin – Egg – Sweetcorn: a sophisticated take on boiled egg and soldiers, this is the HK-exclusive version of one of Chef Toutain’s signature dishes in Paris. The sensationally creamy and rich egg custard is made with local baby corn and topped with cumin caramel, accentuating the natural sweetness of the corn. A mouillette (or “little soldier”) – a thin, flaky breadstick – is served alongside, perfect for dunking or stirring.
Feuille Bread – Dill Pil Pil: Feuille’s homemade bread, flecked with pumpkin and sunflower seeds, is served as an intermediary course on its own, and it’s worth the wait. The crust has a delightfully nutty crunch, while the interior displays a soft, fluffy crumb – we inhaled it! Echoing Chef Toutain’s zero-waste approach, the bread is served with a bright green, dill-flavoured pil-pil sauce that’s made with the collagen extracted from unused fishbones.
Green Peas – Clams – Almond Milk: land meets sea in this dish, where local clams, geoduck and green peas are the stars. Hidden beneath this gorgeous mélange is a clam gel made from the clams’ cooking water, almond milk and agar, with creamy homemade almond milk poured over tableside. There’s a second plate served with this course (not pictured) featuring the clam shells filled with a pea purée that’s topped with almond-milk jelly and a layer of Douglas pine foam made from the leftover pea pods.
Zucchini – Spiny Lobster – Mint: a complex, multi-element dish, the chargrilled spiny lobster is presented first, finishing its cooking process at the table. Next, the zucchini flower makes its appearance; it’s filled with a bouncy mousse made of spiny lobster. The stuffed zucchini flower lounges on a purée made of zucchini, fennel jelly and mint. The lobster medallions can be dipped in the accompanying emulsion of lobster stock, fennel jelly and mint oil. The most luxurious dish of the lot.
Beetroot – Pigeon – Hibiscus: this artistically presented course is the epitome of the chef’s root-to-shoot philosophy, this time utilising every part of the beetroot plant. We think the locally sourced pigeon – though cooked expertly – plays second fiddle to the beetroot gnocchi, which are satisfyingly chewy pearls of earthy goodness. Not pictured, the second plate (or rather, bowl) features beetroot consommé jazzed up with smoked pigeon fat. A savoury beetroot millefeuille completes the trio, crafted using deep-fried beetroot slices layered with beetroot leaf, fried tofu skin and beetroot cream.
Tomato – Strawberry – Longan: zero waste is again at the forefront with this dessert – an unexpectedly synergistic flavour combination of tomato, strawberry and longan. Every part of the tomato is utilised, from the skin (used to make the powder), to the flesh (used to make the jelly), to the seeds, which offer a cracking crunch. Longan, with its distinct musky aroma, is made into an espuma, and sunny marigold petals are the icing on the cake.
Miso – Meringue; Chocolate – Hazelnut; Cauliflower – Coconut: this threesome of creative petits fours ends the meal on a high. Returning full circle to the start of the menu, grains make an appearance in the airy meringue bites topped with a sweet miso purée, while the chocolate-hazelnut truffle is given a unique twist with the addition of tongue-numbing Sichuan peppercorn. The final petit four is another signature of Chef Toutain; it consists of a base of white chocolate ganache topped with vanilla-laced cauliflower foam and a dollop of of homemade coconut ice cream – another surprising flavour pairing that we devoured.
Chef Toutain’s root-to-shoot tasting menu at Feuille is a triumph and unlike anything we’ve ever experienced in Hong Kong. We were taken on an unforgettable culinary journey featuring unexpected vegetable-forward flavour pairings that truly sing. Not only are the inventive dishes sublime in taste and exquisite in presentation, we applaud Chef Toutain’s focus on sustainability, seasonality and minimising waste. For us, Feuille is the future of fine dining.
Where: 5/F, The Wellington, 198 Wellington Street, Central
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.