Located in a quaint neighbourhood in Sheung Wan lies La Cantoche – meaning “The Canteen” in French. Devoid of the fancy and frilly decor of many French restaurants around town, La Cantoche’s interior is hip and casual. The ground floor is equal parts bar and restaurant, with a giant foosball machine for game nights.
Staying true to their French heritage, most of the menu items are written in French, but the chef and staff are more than willing to explain every dish for non-French speakers. The first impression always carries enormous gravity, and our first dish, Camembert rôti et ses pommes noisette ($228), certainly did not disappoint. The pommes noisette (deep-fried, bite-sized potato balls) was served with Camembert cheese for dipping – you just can’t go wrong with potatoes and cheese. It did the perfect job of priming our stomachs for the food to follow.
Our next starter was Rice Krispies de la Cantoche ($88) – the chef’s secret recipe that pays homage to his mother’s home town in Laos. This dish exemplifies all that we love in a Southeast Asian dish – it was tangy but not overpoweringly so. It was also full of texture and flavour from the soft marinated pork, chewy rice meatballs and crunchy Rice Krispies.
Our main course came on a huge plate – cordon bleu maison ($188), filet de flétan en croûte de tomate séchée ($228), onglet aux champignons flambée au cognac ($228) and merguez ($168). All were seemingly simple dishes that were anything but simple in flavour. The cordon bleu was a testament to the chef’s skills, with the stuffed chicken breast retaining all its moisture and flavour. The hanger steak was also easily one of the best we’ve had in Hong Kong – it was melt-in-the-mouth tender. This will be our must-have dish every time we visit going forward.
We had fondant au chocolat ($88), nougat glacé aux M&M’s ($88), mousse au chocolat ($88) and cherry clafoutis ($88) for dessert. Not only was the presentation stunning, but the taste of each was divine. The chef boasted his chocolate mousse to be the best in town, and we would not disagree.
With impeccable service and good wine to boot, La Cantoche is everything it claims to be – an unpretentious, quirky and fun dining spot where the food is all flavour and no nonsense.
5 Wa Lane (near 227 Hollywood Road), Sheung Wan, 2426 0880
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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