We’d hazard that 2014 has been a nerve-wracking time for the Four Seasons, which has been faced with the pressure to maintain the high standards at Caprice, established by former executive chef Vincent Thierry. Now that newcomer Fabrice Vulin has been in charge for just less than a year, the team can breathe a sigh of relief. Caprice has, for a third year running, secured a spot in our illustrious Top 20 list of the best restaurants in town.
Our decision to award Vulin with our best new chef award comes after careful consideration of his journey since arriving in Hong Kong. We’re all too aware of the challenges faced by those who step into the fray in this frenetic city, a place where diners are fussy and patience short. Vulin had but a short time to make his mark before the loyal masses could have struck Caprice off their list of regular haunts.
Over the course of several visits for the best part of the year, we have seen a chef that has worked tirelessly to refine and improve his menu while moving with the seasons. The menu at Caprice today is more sophisticated – and more telling – than the chef’s debut presentation in February. Vulin’s unique culinary background and global experience is finally finding its own language in a new city. Traditional southern-French techniques underline his style, but the dishes take the diner in new directions through the curveball use of North African spices, gleaned from his years of travel and work in Morocco. A ras el hanout-scented bouillon paired with Bresse pigeon breast anointed with Marrakech flavourings is just one creation you wouldn’t expect to see on any other French fine-dining menu, but here it’s part of the culinary fabric.
We’ve also seen the chef warm up to the public as he becomes better versed in English, a skill that he uses to glean more feedback on his cooking. It’s not difficult to see that this dedication to honing his craft on foreign soil is the very reason why Caprice has maintained its spot among our favourite places to eat today.
Caprice, 6/F, Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong, 8 Finance Street, Central; +852 3196-8860
Runner-up: Mutaro Balde has proven that his cooking can stand up to the impressively stylish surroundings at Bibo.