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Cepage (CLOSED)

Restaurants Wan Chai
4 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Cépage, from the same folks behind Singapore’s famed Les Amis, takes over the former Ingredients space on Star Street. The choice of building is unfortunate, as it very much resembles a 1960s East German office building with its blocky architecture. Stepping through the door does nothing to dissuade this first impression, the reception area is populated by stiff backed seats, corporate art, and books on big boy’s toys to read while waiting for your table. You get the sense that this place is meant to act as a power cafeteria for the executives next door at Pacific Place Three; there’s even a well-stocked bar and wine room where you can entertain clients before dinner.

Putting down our glossy tome on helicopters, and following the waiter through to the main dining room, it was only once we sat down and opened the menu that we realised we were in a fusion restaurant. Granted, fusion is a bad word these days, but the menu was an undeniable combination of French and Japanese flavours. Case in point: their char grilled Kagoshima beef sirloin with sweet corn and pommes Pont-Neuf; or their cold angel hair pasta with Aquitaine caviar, Japanese kobu and white truffle oil. Even the staff uniforms are Japanese-inspired, with the waitresses wearing Hermes, Gucci or Asprey silk scarves tied conservatively around the necks.

We started with their Les Amis Classic: Celeriac and Japanese organic egg yolk ravioli with truffle jus and Japanese mixed mushrooms ($220). On the menu at the Singapore parent since its opening, this dish celebrates Les Amis’ 15 years of culinary excellence. Generous shavings of black truffles are blanketed over ravioli, while underneath the pasta a golden egg yolk waits to be cracked. The yolk ran over the pasta and mushrooms, and mixed with the white truffle jus to make a wonderful, creamy concoction. Simple ingredients, very well executed. We were ready for some meat.

The pan-seared Iberian pork chop with grilled apple and Savoy cabbage ($240) seemed like the perfect solution for our wintertime blues. The pork was pink and juicy, no doubt cooked to an exacting temperature in a sous vide, and then flash seared in a pan or broiler to crisp up the fatty jacket over the centre-cut chop. The apple held its crispness, and didn’t melt into a sauce like other apple supporting sides we’ve tried. Meanwhile, the side of truffle potato terrine was a beautiful trapezoid tower of layered potatoes and truffles, but its muted flavours did little for this dish other than add a pretty-looking garnish.

We felt that the next course of char-grilled US prime rib and braised beef cheeks (part of a two-course set menu for $290) was a cheeky nod to the building’s former occupant, Ingredients, which was known for its braised beef cheeks. While still soft, the Cépage version was biting with flavour, probably from simmering in a slow braise for hours. The very thin sheet of delicious prime rib must have also been pre-cooked in a sous vide, and then quickly grilled, as it was still bright pink in the centre. Masterful work.

For dessert we went with the dark bitter chocolate cake (the second course of the set menu), which had a white cream heart that melted when cracked. That just about summed up our emotional reaction to this dish – we’ve had much better molten cakes elsewhere – as the chocolate wasn’t pronounced and the cream filling was, for a lack of a more eloquent description, gloopy. While the side of stracciatella ice cream was unremarkable, the fact that someone had taken the time to whip it – rather than just scoop – was at least thoughtful. However, the selection of French farm cheese by Philip Olivier ($160), four cheeses of various pleasing degrees of tartness, was the perfect way to end an almost perfect meal. Almost.

Angie Wong

23 Wing Fung St, Wan Chai, 2861 3130; Mon-Sat noon-2pm, 7pm-10pm. Closed Sun.

The bill
Les Amis Classic     $220
Pan-seared Iberian pork chop     $240
US prime rib and chocolate cake     $290
French farm cheese by Philip Olivier     $160
Ten per cent service charge $91
Total $1,001




Address: 23 Wing Fung St, Wan Chai
Hong Kong

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