In the third of our stories on date night in Wan Chai (see our last one here), we head to Akrame. Opened in November 2013 to great acclaim, this minimalistic spot on Star Street is the place to take your date on an exquisite gastronomic adventure.
Within one year of opening, Akrame garnered a Michelin Star securing its place in the city’s culinary hall of fame. “We have maintained this star since,” says Business and Operations Director Vivien Leung. She believes the reason for their continued acclaim is the “one of a kind” dining experience. “[It] can be compared to high couture fashion,” she says. “…avant garde and forward thinking.”
Four months ago, Akrame (pronounced Ah-khramm) unveiled its new design presenting contemporary artworks by artists Yaz (French-Algerian) and Ogut (Java) in partnership with ARTYZE Gallery. Since then, the restaurant has been holding ‘Art x Gastronomy’ events every month, with a private art preview from 6-8:30pm and a special tasting menu from 8:30pm onwards. You can follow their Facebook updates to find out when the next one is.
Best for anniversary dates: Akrame
Stagecraft is part of the show here, as your server – with his booming French accent and emphatic gestures – presents each dish with much ado. We went for the blind tasting lunch, leaving our destiny in the chef’s hands. They will adjust to any dietary restriction or allergy before coming up with the day’s concoctions.
We began with bread topped with melted cheese and a delicate amuse-bouche. The latter appeared like a sliver of fish suspended on a black leaf, set on cling wrap over a small ceramic bowl as if it were levitating on air. We could already tell we were in for an artistic ride of a meal.
At this point we were already having difficulty making sense of the heavily-accented descriptions of our server, as we tried to connect what he was saying with what we were seeing and tasting. A lobster appetizer with fruit-cream froth and what looked like a seaweed wafer perched on top was next. Regardless of what it really was, it was exquisite and delicious. It also looked like a piece of abstract art.
The other appetizer of charcoaled egg with cauliflower foam was our first sampling of two-Michelin-star chef Akrame Benallal’s signature method. The Parisian-Algerian food artist is best known for his use of activated charcoal in his creations. The ingredient is utilised to add texture, with a grainy-powdery mouth-feel also gaining popularity as a health supplement. Apparently, it’s a strong detoxifier able to cleanse the body of impurities with moderate consumption.
We had duck for our main, paired with carrot and exotic fig. It was cooked to perfection, the meatjuicy and tender, disappearing in a matter of seconds. You may not leave with the fullest of stomachs, but your eyes will be sure to have feasted in equal amounts on the exquisite plating, done justice by the sublime flavours.
Finally, dessert arrived. Akrame’s all-time best is the dark ensemble of charcoal pineapple, sea salt cookies and ice cream. Try not to smile at your partner immediately after eating. If you want to avoid that Halloween look, you can request for the new Fragrance Blanc de Blanc: a fruity and refreshing alternative featuring citrus, orange blossom, and cherry.
Hong Kong’s dining scene has been graced by the presence Akrame for four years now, which has never lost its gastronomic position that sets it apart from its neighbours on the busy restaurant-lined Ship Street. We discovered just what was so special about this concept, founded by the world’s youngest Michelin-star chef. Get ready to embark on a journey of food and art to delight your tastebuds as you toast to your red-letter day.
For a fine dining experience complete with dégustation menus, Akrame keeps its prices reasonable starting at 3 course lunches from HK$280, a Sunday brunch at HK$580, and a 6 to 8 course dinner at HK$888/$1,888 respectively. It’s definitely not your everyday spread, but a once-in-a-blue-moon celebration for special occasions.
Shop B, G/F, No 9 Ship Street Wanchai, Hong Kong. Tue-Sunday 12-3pm, 6-11pm. +852 2528 5068. www.akrame.com.hk
Text: Julienne C. Raboca