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Located on the ground floor of a brand new office building, Le Pan welcomes guests with an airy entrance, with double doors that slide open to reveal a glorious foyer embellished with a white and crystal chandelier. The 10,000 square foot restaurant space is divided into a main dining area, four private dining rooms and a chef’s table adjacent to the spacious kitchen. The abundance of white marble and leather of the same tone should give the space an intimate feel, if only lighting was properly installed to support it. During the dinner service the whiteness felt slightly grey, and in some areas even seemed dingy.
Le Pan currently offers two tasting menus: a six-course and an eight-course option available since its opening, but with hopes of a la carte options and a new seasonal menu coming soon. The current menu is created and designed by Singaporean executive chef Edward Voon.
The meal began with house-made bread and butter, the latter house-churned and piled onto a mounting slope, with the server portioning individual servings into golden curls set next to the richly flavoured porcini pull-apart bread. Miniature baguettes are very crusty while the sweet rolls include creative varieties such as earl grey tea and milk bread with dried berries.
The meal began with a set of four amuse-bouche. The clam with dashi gelee and Thai herbs was excellent with softly set gelee rich with umami. Parmesan marshmallows were fluffy but the gazpacho bonbon’s garlic was too pungent. A fresh Gillardeau oyster, emulsion of watercress and tapioca silver pearls is light and pleasant as one of the starters. The herbaceous vegetable blends well with oyster to create a velvety soup, although the oyster itself was slightly overcooked. Temperature and texture continued to be an issue as the meal proceeded. Chef Voon’s signature Hokkaido scallop with squid tortellini and cauliflower puree features a perfect tortellini filled with diced squid and vegetables; the plancha-cooked scallop, however, was dry. Petuna ocean trout with artichoke was better, as the fish stayed firm against smooth artichoke puree and tender mussels. The tiny globlets of black olive tempura surprised us with a delightful crunch.
The vegetable course of Ratte potatoes with fragrant grains and poultry jus was a letdown. The season’s best potato prepared two ways, one mashed and the other cooked in chicken jus, was a contrast in textures. The mash was creamy but the whole potato was undercooked and felt too dense. Our meat course, the Royal pigeon au sang, pumpkin smoked, duxelles, and jus from carcass almost restored our faith in the meal. The roasted bird, presented gloriously on the pan it was roasted in, was carved and served with the medium-rare breast and meat turned into a crispy croquette. The pigeon breast was superb in texture, especially with its wafer-thin skin, but was under-seasoned. The pumpkin puree helped bring sweetness to the dish.
The pre-dessert of fromage blanc sorbet with Korean strawberries and tomberry tomatoes was great, cleansing the palate for a chocolate Paris-brest with tonka bean ice cream. The choux pastry was a little dense, but the hazelnut filling is great with the light tonka bean ice cream. Petit fours were great offerings at Le Pan, especially the mandarin pate de fruits, raspberry ganache bonbons and coffee marshmallows, all mildly sweet and light enough for a sweet ending.
The wine list at Le Pan is an impressive one, judging from the cellar selection showcased near the main dining area. Guests can expect a rich selection of wines available by glass, decanter, and bottle. The Domaine Ponsor Bourgogne Cuvee du Pinson Burgundy Pinot Noir 2013 came highly recommended for the pigeon dish and was spot-on, although the Barolo would have been an obvious fit to the dish. The Geantet-Pansiot Les Penintents Cote de la Charite Loire 2009, a Chardonnay that brings pleasant level of acidity and slight mineral character, a good one for earlier seafood starters.
Service is an issue at Le Pan. On an odd weeknight we were one of two tables throughout the evening (the only one inside the main dining room), but even then service seemed slow and slightly disorganized.
The service team is not fully briefed on menu or wine offerings and occasionally they misinformed the guests of product origins and wine pairing options. The team, however, is enthusiastic about serving the courses properly and attentive throughout.
An eight-course tasting menu dinner for two including one glass of wine amounts to HK$3,600. The price point and calibre are high and unlike any restaurants in the area. While Le Pan excels in offering French cuisine with a relatively private setting, it needs considerable room in service support to offer guests an impressive dining experience it promises.