This article originally appeared in the latest September issue of Foodie: Cooking with Jamie Oliver. Read it here!
Comme maman: No one does fine dining quite like the French, but with the influx of le francaise into Hong Kong, an emerging genre of rustic French comfort eating is quickly eclipsing the old notions of fine dining. Rustic French dishes are hearty affairs, reminiscent of the loving spoonfuls French mamans would serve at home. Flavours are bold, plating is simple, and the food is served piping hot to be enjoyed immediately. Bistro du Vin, a pioneer in the Western dining scene in Kennedy Town, brings flavours from the rustic French table to Hong Kong palates. Ironically, the resident chef, Kenny, comes from a French fine dining background, having honed his skills in the kitchens of Joel Robuchon and Cepage before making the switch. Sister restaurant to Le Port Parfume, another rustic French restaurant that focuses primarily on seafood, Bistro du Vin distinguishes itself with a more meat-centric menu. We recently sat down to taste the newest additions of the ever-changing menu.
New temptations: Our meal started with refreshing bowls of cucumber and green apple vichyssoise. The cold soup, blended with chopped onions, celery and a touch of sherry vinegar for an addictive tart finish, was the perfect cooldown to Hong Kong’s merciless heat. Next, arrived an incredibly creamy squid ink Bomba rice risotto ($210), topped with succulent pops of baby squid, delivered fresh daily from the Aberdeen fishmonger. The risotto was irresistibly oozy thanks to the olive oil, Parmesan and butter. We were surprised by the miso salmon with caramelised turnip ($210) as the components sounded undecidedly French. However, one bite and we forgot our quibbles, as the marinated salmon and candied turnip made for good eating regardless of cultural connotations. The slow-cooked pigeon over a bed of al dente Spaetzle pasta, dressed in a black pepper sauce ($210) was cooked to a perfect blushing pink. The local pigeons, raised to Yuen Long, nestle in a cozy sous vide bath for a day before being pan-fried to achieve a beautiful caramelised crust. Roast chicken isn’t high on our priority list when dining at a restaurant, but the Cajun spring chicken ($210) was an instant favourite with its fork-tender, intensely moist flesh. We capped off our meal with not one but two desserts, starting with the classic soufflé ($90) infused with Grand Marnier. It arrived at the table perfectly risen and beautifully golden, with a creamy yet light center. The pink tiramisu ($75) reminded us of Eton Mess with its combination of mascarpone, raspberry sorbet, lady fingers dipped in champagne, whipped cream and raspberry crisps.
Verdict: Bistro du Vin’s menu is a classic example of simple classics, done incredibly well. It serves up the type of comfort eating that makes you feel instantly at ease, and at home. We will definitely be back to try their next round of new risotto flavours, which changes from month to month.