Le Pan: A review of Kowloon Bay’s ritziest restaurant

Taste-testing Le Pan’s seven-course ‘Hedonist’s Lunch’ 

Kowloon Bay has been undergoing a major revitalisation in the last couple of decades since the old airport relocated to Lantau in 1998, exactly 20 years ago. Nowadays, however, when one thinks Kowloon Bay, the following might come to mind: the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal, concerts at KITEC, the red monstrosity that is MegaBox (Hong Kong’s biggest ice skating rink!) and maybe the cinema at Telford Gardens. 

How about the most opulent brunch you could possibly find this side of the harbour? 

Kowloon East has finally gotten its own swanky Saturday bubbles ritual by way of Le Pan’s elaborate Hedonist’s Lunch featuring seven courses of contemporary French cuisine in a positively palatial property effused with natural sunlight. 

Admittedly, we were not prepared for the grandeur that greeted us upon arriving at Le Pan, in the middle of a heretofore unexplored industrial-looking area of Kowloon Bay. Located on the ground floor of a brand spanking new skyscraper, this expansive restaurant extends over 10,000 square feet – a far cry from the tight spaces of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. 

One might feel a twinge of embarrassment, as we did, about not dressing up for such an impressive setting. But our nerves were quickly calmed upon meeting Herman Pang, Le Pan’s sincere and easygoing Assistant Manager. He even seemed genuinely curious about the hike we were planning to do after the lunch: the nearby “Suicide Cliff” on Kowloon Peak. 

After Pang introduced the menu to us, we were then familiarised with the drinks as presented by Lauri Vainio, Le Pan’s Finnish Wine Director and award-winning sommelier. That was the beginning of the day’s free-flow champagne: Jacques Picard “Le Chapitre” Brut NV. If you’re celebrating something as we were, there couldn’t be a more opportune moment for this indulgent menu. 

The meal started with a stomach-soothing chicken consommé followed by Royal Oscietra caviar in an oh-so-authentic tin; dig in and you’ll be rewarded with a satisfyingly salty Petuna ocean trout tartare. Crustacean lovers would love the fresh Fine de Claire oyster flown in from France, flavoured with the most subtle ginger vinaigrette. We got a taste of the sea, but it wasn’t overwhelming; texture was impeccable. 

The seafood continues with the Blue lobster ‘piperade’, a concoction of arroz bomba grains and calamari: equal parts crispy, foamy and chewy. For the main course, you can choose between a lightly spiced Hapuka fish and jumbo prawnsPicalou French yellow chicken and Hokkaido scallop; or USDA Prime onglet ‘Bordelaise’. We went with the first and last dishes.

The ocean grouper didn’t quite melt in the mouth, but the prawn made up for where the white Hapuka was lacking. We had no complaints about the steak, which came in rich and filling cuts of tender beef with duxelles pureé (mushrooms) and grelot (pearl) onions.

And last but not least, dessert: the Tropical ‘rum baba’. If you’re a chocolate person, this might not be your cup of tea, but after such a heavy meal you might appreciate the fruity zing and spongey cake. There’s also a weighty cheese selection for those who prefer savoury to sweet.

If one day you find yourself in the vicinity of Kowloon Bay and feel like treating yourself to a stately experience, there is only one place to go. Complimentary valet parking beckons to those with wheels coming from the New Territories and don’t want to get stuck in downtown traffic. For the more centrally located, however, you would have to exhaust the champagne brunches closer to home before heading further afield to this rare gem in Kowloon East. 

Le Pan’s Hedonist Lunch is available every Saturday, from noon until 3:30 p.m at HK$980 per head. Ground Floor, Goldin Financial Global Centre, 17 Kai Cheung Road, Kowloon Bay, Hong Kong. (852) 3188 2355. www.lepan.com.hk


Written by: Julienne C. Raboca