Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Long Lunch Part 2: Clarence

I don’t think much of the term “Yaki-Frenchy” but this unique concept by Chef Olivier Elzer of combining Japanese yakitori and traditional French cuisine does bring something new to our dining scene at his restaurant Clarence. Didn’t get around to visit since the restaurant opened earlier this year until recently on my week off. 

While conventional yakitori restaurants could be smoky and even filthy with the oily meat done off charcoal grill with drinks and other casual dishes flying around, Clarence has none of that. In fact, it would be hard to find one bistro having such elegant décor around, and the dining space was spacious with separate sections for casual drinking at the lounge area or more proper sit-down meals at the main dining room, which was where we were seated. It was a tasting session organized by the restaurant PR for the few of us so we did get to taste quite a bit of courses. 

The sumptuous appetizer spread arrived at the same time with a few of their signature dishes. The little tin of caviar was no doubt the most eye-catching one with oscietra caviar from the French purveyor Perseus served with diced gamberoni shrimps and fennels underneath for the loaded mineral and umami flavor. The black prawn dish offered something similar but different, with the mildly cured prawn served ceviche-style and served with grated tonka bean, lemon peel and herbs for the refreshing taste. Rounding up was the sea bream served in thin slices with pickled turnips, pepper flakes and yuzu zest for a nice kick. 

Then it was the series of “Yaki-Frenchy” dish, with seafood and meat done on a grill and served in a skewer. But other than the presentation and the cooking method, they are of mistakenly French. My favorite among the three we tried was the baby squid, served with a generous basting of a spicy oil and topped with sauteed shallots. I love the tender but bouncy texture and rich flavor. 

We continued with the seafood theme with a couple main dishes. I love the riso pasta which is of lighter texture than traditional risotto and worked well with the large piece of langoustine, done a la Plancha and served with the rich masala sauce. Sole meunière was of course a classic and the four of us were served not one but two whole fish with steamed potatoes and tartare sauce on the side. I like the firm texture and the buttery flavor. 

Those who love the combination of lychee and rose would enjoy the first dessert of raspberry sorbet and milk ice cream sundae served with rose espuma and fresh lychees with the nice floral aroma. And the “croffle” was another delicious dish, served with salted caramel sauce and milk ice cream on the side. 

Love the wine pairing too with some unusual selection well suited in a bistro setting. Like that kick of acidity in the sparkling chenin blanc from Loire Valley, followed by a Rousette de Savoire from eastern part of France. Not the most usual bottle nor varietals but well suited for the seafood dishes with nice notes of mineral and citrus. Did go with one bottle of red at the end, but it’s the milder Pinot with nice red fruits and floral note.

When? November 23 2022
Where? Clarence, 25/F H Code, 45 Pottinger Street, Central, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Dover Sole, Steamed Potatoes, Tartare Sauce
Domaine de La Taille aux Loups “Triple Zero” NV 
2020 Domaine Les Aricoques “Pan!” Roussette de Savoie
2016 Domaine Marechal Pommard “La Chaniere”
Web: www.clarencehk.com

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