Tuesday, June 10, 2008
There are several reasons why I normally don’t do restaurant reviews. Stated simply, personal tastes differ; standards differ; individual dining experiences may be different; and restaurants can be inconsistent. I don’t want the reputation of Hong Kong Hustle in doubt because the chef was out sick the night that you decided to visit, or you ordered an obscure dish that the restaurant doesn’t specialize in. But I’m willing to break my rule on the rare occasion that I discover someplace truly special. The newly relaunched Chez Moi restaurant on 10 Arbuthnot Road in Central is one of those cases.
Chez Moi has actually been around for years, but the restaurant has just soft-opened again with the arrival of a new chef and a major renovation. Located on Arbuthnot Road, the street behind Dragon-i, it’s slightly off the beaten path in Central.
Chez Moi was previously a French restaurant. Its new focus has now broadened to contemporary European cuisine.
Arriving at the entrance, one immediately notices something different. The large curved wooden door swings open to reveal an interior that feels like the dining hall of a vintage ocean liner.
There’s lots of wood and quilted upholstery. Brass fixtures hang from the ceiling, giving it a steamship-like quality. On one side of the room is a subtle mural. Look closely and you’ll find it’s packed with details including a mixture of pop and classical iconography.
On my way to be seated for some reason I noticed the air-conditioning ducts. They were custom fitted with woven material that matched the rest of the decor. Why do I obsess about things like air conditioning ducts? Because it screams that the designer has a vision as well as attention to details. These were the best I’ve seen since the newly renovated JUICE.
Though I appreciate the ambiance in restaurants, it’s not my main criteria. When I go out to eat, I’m all about the food. In Hong Kong, people flock to restaurants based on modernity (is it the newest place in town?); price (extremely expensive, or extremely cheap are selling points); the style of the interior; and the quality of the food. Since most people in this city don’t cook, food in restaurants is like magic to them. Although there are great restaurants here, and a food culture, I’d say that the average person’s standards are pretty low. When it comes to foreign food, people have even less knowledge. Therefore the majority of restaurants offering European cuisine are high on glitz and low on substance. It was with this in mind that I entered Chez Moi.
Browsing the menu which was printed on a single-side of paper, I was surprised at how reasonably priced it was. Western food in Hong Kong is generally expensive. There was a long list of ingredients beneath every dish. I was told that the restaurant attempts to use organics when possible and that the menu would change depending on seasonal attractions. I liked the fact that the menu wasn’t huge. This allows the chef to be more nimble and focus on making a core of dishes at the highest quality.
The dinner began with a selection of amazing home-baked breads made by the chef. For a starter I ordered the gazpacho soup. Arriving, it was exploding with taste. I finished it and was contemplating ordering a second bowl!
Soon the ox tail stew arrived.
My friend had chosen salmon. (Pictured at the top.) I didn’t try any of the salmon since I didn’t want to give up any of my ox tail! It was that good. A few minutes later and my plate was clean.
For dessert we selected a strawberry selection that included a home-made strawberry ice-cream, a strawberry jelly and a strawberry cake. The three were delicious, each with a different texture.
While the masses cruise Soho looking for foreign food, or head to spots with extravagant prices, this is a destination for the in-the-know. Chez Moi not only delivers excellent dishes with good quality ingredients, it does so at a reasonable price. With a casual elegance that’s not common in Hong Kong, Chez Moi is comfortable, quirky, and worth a visit.
Chez Moi address:
G/F, 10 Arbthnot Road
Central, Hong Kong