If you are wondering where to go in Hong Kong, for that girl’s only catch up brunch, then my recommendation would be to book a date at UPPER Modern Bistro. Tucked away in Sheung Wan, amidst a row of artsy galleries, this cosy and stylish eatery is easily one of Hong Kong’s best kept secrets.
You cannot help but notice the decor, particularly the stunning ceiling, formed by a cloud cover of dangling petal-inspired structures. All serve to create a feeling of light and space that lend a chill and relaxed vibe to the dining space, conducive for long conversations, posh finger food and drinks flowing non-stop. Expect this at UPPER, as the restaurant is fondly referred to, by regulars.
The restaurant opened in October 2013 is the first of Philippe Orrico’s solo ventures under Nomad Dining which has since opened ON DINING Kitchen & Lounge in Central and PICNIC on Forbes in Kennedy Town, opened just last year. Chef Philippe moved to Hong Kong seven years ago in 2006, when he arrived to set up Pierre at Mandarin Oriental. He quickly obtained one Michelin Star and, following this, joined the well-known restaurateur David Yeo as Executive Chef of Hullet House, where he obtained another Michelin star at Saint George.
The food mirrors the decor. Here, light, fresh and modern come beautifully plated combining French inspiration with Japanese flair. No wonder, as their new Chef De Cuisine, Julien Cadiou who takes over the helm at UPPER has worked with Alain Ducasse at Plaza Athénée and also spent two years at the innovative Restaurant Kei with Chef Kei Kobayashi. Adding the element of great service to the food is the restaurant’s new Manager, the energetic Terry Ip, a restaurant operations specialist with extensive experience in top-tier destinations around Hong Kong, such as Caprice in the Four Seasons Hong Kong and The Langham Hong Kong.
We popped in for lunch to try some of Chef Julien’s innovative new creations. Using familiar comfort food as the base idea, he has taken it up a notch with creations like his Truffled Croque Monsieur (HK$88). The menu brings French and Asian flavours together with a selection of cold and hot bites, starters, main courses, desserts and cheeses. Some served in tapas sized portions – great for bar-side dining, others as part of a full sit down menu.
Our meal started with the amazing Foie Gras Creme Brûlée (HK$98), perhaps the most amazingly addictive starter that I have ever encountered. Once you get started, its hard to stop especially when paired with a glass of wine.
Another must order from the starter menu would be the Beef Carpaccio, an explosion of tangy and rare in your mouth. This was a beef tartare marinated in daikon served with chopped red onions and several different condiments. (HK$148)
From the main courses, the Egg Onsen dish was also exceptionally good combining King crab meat, Piperade emulsion, Beans and a spicy chorizo (HK$188).
Similarly the Confit Iberico Pork Cheek (HK$298) caramelised and cooked in Tandoori seasoning infused with a hint of orange and came with a serving of Spätzle and baby carrots, simply braised to perfection.
As far as dramatic desserts go, Cadiou’s signature dessert known as UPPER Red Fruits (HK$98) features literally a trio of red fruit topped with smooth Panna Cotta, crunchy Crumble, and a refreshing strawberry ice cream lent a lovely sweet ending to the meal.
If its quick and fuss-free that you are after, note that there is a Lunch Set menu at Upper Modern Bistro starting at HK$138 for three courses.
If you are there for dinner, don’t forget to order from the Cheese selection. Their cheeses are exceptional and each block is a fairly good size for sharing. You can order a selection of 3 cheeses (HK$198) or 5 cheeses (HK$298), the Upper Cheese selection ($398) or try one the best cheeses that I have ever had, the Comté de garde exceptionnelle (HK$188). Aged for 48 months, this cheese has a truly unique crystal texture that offers a crunch and goes great with a bottle of red.
UPPER MODERN BISTRO is at 6-14 Upper Station Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong.
Reservations at tel: +852 2517 0977 (Open Monday to Saturday from 11am to 11pm. On Saturdays and Public Holidays brunch will be served from 10am to 3pm. Closed on Sundays)