I'm hard to please when it comes to French food. I've never liked the heavy use of butter, nor am I a huge fan of stewed meats, foie gras, and offal. At the same time, some of my all time favorite chefs come from France, especially those that focus on vegetables, one of my favorite foods.
One of my favorite meals in recent memory in France was at 2 Michelin star David Toutain in Paris (right at the start of the pandemic!). David Toutain trained under legendary French chef Alain Passard, who is famous for how he cooks vegetables (3 Michelin star L'Arpege). As a huge fan of Alain Passard, I was definitely intrigued by his pupils and those that were trained by him.
I loved our meal in Paris at David Toutain. However, I never, never would have imagined I would have a chance to have his food in Hong Kong. Imagine my surprise when Bryan told me that David Toutain has just opened Feuille in Hong Kong.
We have a friend from Shenzhen who celebrates her lunar birthday (which changes every year on the "normal" Gregorian calendar). It just so happened her lunar birthday this year fell on the same day as my Gregorian birthday. So, we decided to have a joint birthday celebration at Feuille HK.
About Feuille's Food Philosophy
Feuille means leaf in French, and they chose this word because leaves are beautiful. Leaves express the restaurant's focus on "nature-inspired meals", particularly the "product, the tree, the seed . . ."
It's challenging to open up a restaurant based on this philosophy in a new geographic location in a very different part of the world! Yet Chef Toutain and Executive chef Joris Rousseau have done just that, taking Chef's Toutain's ethos and cooking style, yet expressing them with a whole new set of local ingredients.
Chef Toutain shared about his visit to farms in the New Territories in Hong Kong. "I was very, very surprised at the amazing products you have." He felt that Hong Kong had the right foundation "to make it happen." [source: https://www.feuille.hk/]
The Menu Terroir
The menu is divided into four different "stages", Grains & Seeds; Leaves, Stems & Roots; Flowers & Fruits, and Origins. It takes the diner through a journey "showcasing the philosophy of Chef David Toutain by preparing the most seasonal local produce with French cooking techniques through the life cycle of plants."
The Menu Terroir (the tasting menu) costs HK$1,599 per person (USD$205) and HK$988 for a 7-Glass Wine Pairing. Filtered water is HK$38 per person, free flowing.
Grains & Seeds
We began with several different small canapes that incorporated the "grain" or "seed" theme.
A number of single bites, to be eaten with our hands, arrived next.
Leaves, Stems & Roots
We were impressed at this healthier alternative to butter that we found to be even more flavorful and addictive. We actually requested second helping because we finished the initial amount so quickly!
Watermelon daikon wrapped around blue crab and kombu was refreshing and delicious.
Bryan's favorite dish
Bryan's favorite dish at David Toutain in Paris was French Bretagne lobster cooked a la plancha with grapefruit and juniper. Here, Chef Toutain used a similar technique, but used a more local spiny lobster, and smoked it over saffron and an Asian kabocha pumpkin.
We dipped the lobster into a decadent sauce made with lobster head, pumpkin, and saffron.
Upgrade option: Pithivier
We had an option to replace the pigeon main course with a beef pithivier (which all parties would have to share). Bryan absolutely loves pithiviers, and was probably still dreaming about his favorite pithiviers from Restaurant Bozar in Brussels. So, we decided to try it.
It was indeed an impressive dish (and tasty), but hard to compare with the best pithivier we've ever had. We were still very impressed with how evenly the inside of the beef was cooked, and overall we enjoyed it.
Flowers and Fruits
We ended with some simple mignardises to finish off the meal, exploring flavors such as lemon mint, chocolate lovage, and sesame strawberry (not pictured).
General Thoughts - Feuille Hong Kong
We all really enjoyed this special birthday meal at Feuille. It's not easy to incorporate a whole new set of local and seasonal ingredients (from a less familiar region!) into a menu. I applaud Chef David Toutain for making a truly valid effort. In general, I think the team pulls it off, and the resulting meal certainly carries David Toutain's overarching style, but with a Hong Kong twist.
Service was excellent, food was very good, and overall we had a lovely time. The staff was very nice, accommodating, and took very good care of us, even when our friends ran into traffic trouble and arrived a bit late.
I like the philosophy, and I think it will be fascinating to see how Chef Toutain adapts to the seasons here in Hong Kong. Can't wait to go back!