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Low-lit and minimalist with a colour palette of black and white, Akrame is situated on Wan Chai’s trendy Ship Street, but the hustle and bustle of the area is left outside as the restaurant exudes a quiet sense of sophisticated calm. The tables and chairs are dark in tone, the former with cold metal tops, while the white walls are punctuated with photographs of striking tattooed women and abstract paintings. A fixture resembling a circle of light that could take its inspiration from a UFO marks the ceiling’s centrepiece.
Presented with the menu at Akrame, little is revealed. Dinner will be an experience designed to surprise and delight with the only information provided by staff that it will be seafood-focused with a meat-based main course. A napkin appears but to don it requires the consumption of four small amuse bouche resting on top: a crisp olive chip; a salty delight of Parmesan cheese with turnip and anchovy; a crunchy endive topped with juicy, burst-in-the-mouth salmon roe; and a small floret of marinated cauliflower dipped in mustard and bread. They offer a range of textures and flavours, hinting at the medley of gastronomic variety yet to come. Fresh crabmeat is veiled with a square film of tonka bean jelly, and set upon a celery coffee mousse which incorporates crunches of green apple and a tang of apple vinegar. A juicy piece of lobster is wrapped in smoked beef in a surf-and-turf-esque dish, served atop a rich jus from a cooking pot of charcoal that adds a warm smokiness. Steamed snapper comes with a squid ink rice risotto and a topping of crisped, crunchy popped rice. There’s chewy skin and two slices of endive, one marinated and one pan fried to add to the flavour, texture and colour combination of this memorable course. The palate is cleansed with basil nougat ice cream: sweet, creamy and refreshing and there are hopes it might return for dessert. Meat breaks the flow of seafood: tender pigeon on a bed of crunchy leeks and wrapped in a sweet yet tart raspberry jelly film that goes surprisingly well with the bird. A slice of pale yellow and brownish cake that appears to be dessert surprises – it is in fact aged comté layered with button mushrooms over which a hot mushroom consommé is poured, melting the cheese in this earthy savoury dish. Lastly there’s the signature dessert of pineapple coated in black caramel made from bamboo coal. This presents a good combination of consistencies and flavours, the tangy sweetness of pineapple pairing with its smooth black coating of lightly sweetened caramel, and a silky black charcoal ice cream with the added crunch of small cubes of biscuit.
There is a focus on French wines from varying regions, though a small selection of Italian bottles is also presented. Half bottles are available, but for all offerings prices go high but not particularly low. There are just two options by the glass, a house white from Burgundy and a red from Languedoc, but these have been well chosen to accompany the set food menus.
Prior to ordering staff enquire as to any dietary requirements before there begins a timely and descriptive presentation of each course from the chosen set menu, every one preceded by the placement of a new set of cutlery and proceeded by a thorough explanation of the contents of the plate with any subsequent questions duly answered.
Expect to pay around HK$3,000 for a set dinner for two with wine pairings. Set dinner menus of four and six courses are offered with the option to pair wines with each course. For the quality and creativity of the food, as well as the novel experience, this is worthwhile, particularly bearing in mind that there may be more courses than stated. Lunch is a more reasonable affair with a three course set at HK$280, four at HK$380 or six at HK$580.