Louise is the first foray into the Fragrant Harbour for Chef Julien Royer, whose two-Michelin-starred Odette in Singapore has been crowned Asia’s Best Restaurant this year (and also sits pretty at number 18 on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list).
The restaurant is located at a two-storey heritage building belonging to PMQ, where Aberdeen Street Social once stood, whose design tells the fictional story of an elegant Frenchwoman living in Hong Kong in days gone by. The tropical-chic interiors of Louise’s “home” have come to life in a stunning collaboration between JIA Group founder Yenn Wong and famed architect André Fu of design studio AFSO.
Entering Louise on the ground floor, past the outdoor terrace and olive-green velvet curtains, one is presented with the all-day dining Parlour, awash in green (and greenery) with a beautiful green, bevelled marble bar and swish rattan furniture.
The Drawing Room
The private room in the back (THE perfect location for a wedding or baby shower) is the Drawing Room, showcasing lush tropical wallpaper and carpeting.
The Dining Room
Then it’s upstairs to the sophisticated Dining Room looking onto the open kitchen, featuring another spacious al-fresco terrace. This space is a lot more bright and inviting than in its Ab Street days, made all the more so with big windows, mirrored panelling, high ceilings and an abundance of light wood and rattan.
Chef Royer and Executive Chef Franckelie Laloum, who relocated from Michelin-starred Azure 45 at The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo, to don his toque at Louise, have designed the menus to reflect updated riffs on French classics.
We were there to try the decidedly more fine-dining à-la-carte menu of the Dining Room, where two- and three-course set lunches ($398/$478) are also available.
We began with some addictive sourdough bread with its crisp, chewy crust and tender interior, served with whipped butter topped with nuts and seeds – we asked for thirds of this!
Next came a light amuse-bouche of deconstructed tart of octopus, olives and capers with red bell pepper sauce (not pictured).
Heirloom tomato tart, Luigi Guffanti burrata, basil sorbet ($258): a supremely summery dish made with simple yet sublime ingredients. In particular, the creamy, buttery burrata was the best we’ve ever had in the 852. We licked our plates clean.
Angel hair pasta, Kristal caviar, black truffle, kombu ($458): this indulgent cold pasta dish, studded with pops of vinegary caviar, is a testament to Chef Laloum’s experience in Japan. While delicious, we felt the portion is too small to justify to the sky-high price tag.
Roasted Hong Kong yellow chicken, Niigata rice en cocotte, salad ($898; serves 2–4): ever since Louise’s opening, we’ve heard nothing but praise for this chicken dish, and it’s all warranted. The golden, crispy-skinned local bird – first presented whole stuffed with smoking, fragrant rosemary and then brought back to the kitchen to be carved up – is as good as it gets when it comes to roast chicken in either Hong Kong or Paris. It’s fatty, juicy, lick-your-fingers good (the warm plates were a bonus). The Japanese rice is a nice nod to Asia, flavoured with glistening chicken fat, garlic, spring onion and chives and served in a clay pot. Because the chicken with its sides can serve up to four people (more like three greedy diners), we think the price is worth it. There’s an option of adding lashings of black truffle (+$218) to the mix, but we think that’d be gilding the lily.
If you really want to go into carb overload though, ditch the pommes frites and order a side of La Truffade ($158), glorious sautéed potatoes swimming in oozy young Cantal cheese, parsley and garlic.
Mama Royer yoghurt cake, yoghurt ice cream, confit lemon ($118): a signature family recipe of Chef Royer, this is a homey dessert whose flavours sing. We loved the pucker-up tartness of the ice cream and citrus sauce, a refreshing way to end quite a hearty meal.
Cherry clafoutis: bite-sized sweet treats from the chef – an elegant version of this traditional French dessert, crowned with quenelles of vanilla-specked cream.
Although the prices at Louise are on the eye-watering side of the spectrum, we do think the overall experience justifies them – especially that phenomenal roast chicken. The lovely heritage space is unlike any other in Hong Kong, and the mostly French staff are charming and knowledgeable. We’ll be back for a visit to the Parlour, where the simpler menu of cheese, charcuterie and pâté en croûte was calling our name – hopefully sat on the terrace on a sunny day. Either that, or for a return birthday or anniversary visit to the Dining Room, where a repeat order of the tomato tart, roast chicken and yoghurt cake is a given. Merci, Madame Louise, for opening your gorgeous home to us.
G/F, PMQ, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central, 2866 0300, book online
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.
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