Musings of a bon vivant in Hong Kong


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The Crêpe Escape

One of my first memories of a stonking good crêpe was back in uni days sinking my teeth into a glorious example of one from La Crêperie de Hampstead, which is London’s most typical Parisian Street Crêperie and rather legendary amongst North Londoners. Fast forward an X number of years (I cringe at the actual number) and a different part of the world, and I’m sitting down in La Crêperie in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. This Brittany restaurant chain is going from strength to strength, with branches in Sheung Wan and Wan Chai, as well as in Shanghai, Vietnam, Taipei and Phnom Penh. Their latest location in L Square in Lockhart Road is more spacious than the others but somehow still feels cosy, with little details that reflect the maritime culture of Brittany.

La Crêperie Causeway Bay

By kind invitation to their new Causeway Bay restaurant, I was able to take my temporary guy-tai friend along with me to nosh on some savoury and sweet pancakes. I was honestly rather excited, as for reasons that escape me, whenever I have tried to go to their Wan Chai branch randomly over the years, it’s always been shut! Though that is probably more my fault than theirs as I recall being struck by a hankering for pancakes at bizarre hours. Anyway, moving on….

So, they did try to tempt me with their Brittany cider (which I later had when I finally went to the Wan Chai branch for dinner with friends a fortnight later, which was delicious – tart with a sweet edge and very refreshing), but as it was a working day, we felt it safe to stick to their apple juice. Whilst this information is not of any import, what I’m trying to express is how much I loved their dinky little bowls that the cider and apple juice were served in. Très mignon! It reminded me of the bowls of hot chocolate my French exchange’s mum used to serve me for breakfast (the only highlight of that hideous exchange programme).Apple cider

La Crêperie’s menu is quite extensive, with most of the ingredients imported from France. The main feature of the menu is of course the famous dish for which Brittany is known for- the galette. Most people are familiar with the normal dessert pancakes, but galettes are the savoury counterparts made with buckwheat and loaded with a variety of tasty fillings.

To accompany the launch of the new branch, there are naturally, new dishes on the menu. Nothing quite whets the appetite, especially when in a ravenous state, than the tempting wafts of black truffle. The black truffle made an appearance on our first dish- two mini galettes ($98). These were cooked (a little on the crispy side) with a quail egg bouncing seductively in the middle, emmental cheese and slices of French cooked ham draped around the egg yolk, before being finished off with aromatic blobs of black truffle paste. These were actually delightful little bites and although the galettes were a tiny bit overcooked on the bottom, they definitely left guy-tai K and I in eager anticipation of the full-scale versions.Mini galettes

Our next starter was the pan-fried foie gras with caramelised apples, apple cider and salted butter caramel sauce. This particular dish was no different to many of the standard foie-gras dishes peppered about HK restaurants, but I was happy to see a generously sized piece and the foie-gras had a gorgeous, crispy, sweet glaze and I did enjoy the accompanying apples which gave the dish a bit of a lift.Pan fried Foie gras

For mains, we shared the new galette on the block- La Capitaine ($128). This seafood creation boasted pan-fried scallops (on point) nestled on a fondue of leek, bacon, cream and flamed with Jameson Irish Whisky. The flavours came together excellently and we wolfed the entire galette down in silence- such was our enjoyment. I love how simply the dish was presented, but don’t be fooled as it is quite filling.La Capitaine

To end, we had the “Sexy Suzette”, which is a celebration of the famous “Crêpe Suzette” and in this version, is served with Mövenpick passion fruit and mango sorbet, lime juice, grilled almonds and flamed with Cointreau (HK$88). The Crêpe was lovely, the sorbet delish (it’s Mövenpick, what’s not to love?), but the Cointreau was just a tad too strong for my taste, though it did jolt me awake just as I was skimming the surface of a food coma.DSC_1893 Sexy Suzette

K and I had a great meal at La Crêperie, and in fact, I returned, this time to their Wan Chai branch, a mere two weeks later (you don’t go in 4 years and then you go twice in a fortnight!). This time I had a more cheesy galette- Les Poulains, which had French raclette cheese, ham, smoked ham, potatoes and pickles lovingly wrapped in a crêpe. Omnomnomnom. Highly recommend this one if you like raclette, and what could be better than raclette in a galette?! And because I was extremely hungry, I followed that up with a sweet pancake. Le Sextant is a deliciously sexy concoction of Vanilla ice cream, caramelized apples and the all popular salted butter caramel. Pancake heaven. Unfortunately my friends, no photos of that particular outing as we were all too busy eating, or perhaps I should just blame it on poor lighting. In any case, if you are craving a serious crêpe escape, look no further than La Crêperie, which is probably coming to a neighbourhood near you, if their popularity is anything to go by!

Chopstixfix rating: 4/5

La Crêperie Causeway Bay, 8/F, The L Square, 459-461 Lockhart Rd. Tel: +852 2898 7123 / La Crêperie
WanChai, 1/F, 100 Queen’s Road East. Tel: +852 25299280 / La Crêperie Sheung Wan,G/F, 69 Jervois Street. Tel: +852 26794666

Meal at Causeway Bay was by invitation- many thanks to the kind hospitality at La Crêperie and Jin Communications.

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Itsy Bitsy Cider

I’m back! Hope you all had a wonderful gluttonous Christmas and New Years and like me, are now trying to undo the waist damage done! And yes, I have managed to a get a blog post in before the end of January, so I can still say Happy New Year readers! Or, in this case, Bonne année et bonne santé for the Francophones, as I’m writing about delightful French cider in this post.

A little before Christmas, the two founders Alex and Pierre of “La Chouette Cider”, which landed on Hong Kong’s shores last August, very kindly sent me 3 bottles of their pure apple juice cider (4.5% alc/vol), which is produced and bottled in Normandy where Pierre’s grand-fathers made cider. I LOVE cider as it’s far more palatable for me to drink versus beer (except for the Belgium fruit beers), I like fruit-based alcohol, so was more than happy to give La Chouette a try. It was great timing as well, as they sent me a packet of spices to make mulled cider!

La Chouette

La Chouette

So how does this cider differ from others? I was interested to find out that they use 100% French “cider apples”, which are specific apple varieties such as Crab Apples dedicated to cider making, whereas most ciders are made from “table” or “dessert” apple varieties. The cider apples provide a more complex aromatic profile with a hint of bitterness (not detectable when I tried it) and a lovely tart edge.

Another attractive aspect of La Chouette is that it is a pure apple juice cider with no added sugar, no added colouring and no added flavouring. Unfortunately most ciders are made from reconstituted apple juice with added sweeteners and sometimes added colourings and flavourings. And what does La Chouette mean? La Chouette, or The Owl, is so named to reflect the relationship between the farmers in the North-West of France who made their own cider with apples from their orchards in barns where owls would nest. Aww.

When my samples arrived I was excited to whip out my saucepan and make mulled cider for myself and the other half. The packaging is clever and cute with an owl face superimposed on an apple outline. Their spice packet of 4 cloves, 1/8 tablespoon of nutmeg, 2 cinnamon sticks and 2 star anise were plonked in the saucepan and 2 of the bottles of cider cracked open and poured in. After 15 minutes of gentle heating over low heat, I served our first homemade brew of mulled cider.

Making the mulled cider!

Making the mulled cider!

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Christmas was served in a mug. It was warm, soothing and delicious. The other half was too busy on the PS4 to fully appreciate the fruity aroma so I pretty much finished 1.5 bottles of mulled cider on my own. Oh well! Due to the natural sugars from the apples, there is no need to add sugar to the mulled cider mix. Whilst I liked the sour note, this may not be to everyone’s taste. When drunk chilled, La Chouette is fruity, crisp and tart and has a lovely golden hue when poured into a glass.

Christmas in a mug! See my tree?

Christmas in a mug! See my tree?

I’m excited that La Chouette is available in 35 points of sale in Hong Kong (bars, restaurants, delis) as it means that I can now enjoy a pure apple juice cider without any of the additives, as well as make mulled cider whenever I feel like! You can find your nearest shop on their website: http://www.lachouettecider.com/en/ and also learn about the history of French Cider if you want to impress people with your knowledge!

Merci Beaucoup La Chouette pour la cidre!