There are two unusual features of Arcane that becomes obvious immediately upon entry to the restaurant; the first is the seemingly scant team in both back and front of house, and the limited but well thought-through interiors, that are free from the frills and conceptualisations of most Hong Kong restaurants. Both these factors, which in most other restaurants might mean doom, indicate the confidence and expert skill of Chef Patron Shane Osborn (formerly of the acutely popular St Betty’s) and his team.
With a high price point, the food is simple and precise; clean, with an immersive thoroughness for the origin of each element. The stories that accompany each ingredient are enthralling and palpable, drawing on slow methods and sustainable practices. They use tuna from Spain, touted as the most sustainable in the world. Many of their vegetables are specifically cultivated for the restaurant by the sous chef’s father, who owns an organic farm in the New Territories. These details are what make the food, which is simply outstanding.
Tomatoes, local, from the New Territories, came with classic flavours like house made ricotta and red vein sorrel, highlighting, much like in Italian cuisine, the freshness of the ingredients and allowing them to take centre stage.
Lightly cured Hokkaido scallops ($268) with spanner crab, jicama, yuzu and sesame followed. The darling of chefs, the yuzu, lent its citrus flair to complement the subtle scallop, making this a very gentle and smart dish.
The Balfego tuna ($268)–which has an inspiring backstory and is seeking the label of the most sustainable fishery in the 21st century–came abreast warm crushed potatoes, vinegared and sharp. The marinated shallots, black olives and watercress all held court around the fish, which was distinctly different to others we had tried, tasting as understatingly sophisticated as many high quality sashimi tuna, but with a wonderful minerality of the ocean.
The standout was the gnocchi ($338), sauteed in such a way to provide an elegant juxtaposed texture combination of fluffy and crispy. It came with black truffle, cep purée, roasted leek, morel ragout, and parmesan, turning out a deeply savoury dish that we think was made most alive by the roasted leeks–the char on these was just superb! It is worth mentioning that it would be a challenge to order badly, as every single imaginiative dish here appeals. There will thus be no need to covet thy neighbours plate when one comes here in company.
The cheeseboard, replete with one of our favourites, the Lancashire Black Bomb, comes with a housemade pear chutney, semi dried grapes and walnuts and toasted lavoche ($168).
Yuzu and lemon posset, poached mandarins, mandarin and yoghurt ice cream, white chocolate and cardamom sugar concluded the meal exquisitely, and we loved the constrast of flavours in between the zesty sharp citrus and smooth and sweetened creams.
Under the helmsmanship of Chef Osborn, this restaurant, that holds such specific quality standards, elevates Hong Kong’s dining scene and reinforces the world class reputation with precise and honest cuisine.