Bleu De France: Belon shifts the epicentre of Hong Kong’s French food a little closer to the 10th arrondissement
There are grand French fine dining rooms, and then there is Belon. The path it has travelled has taken many detours. When the restaurant opened, its goal was to be a French bistro, not a Michelin starred establishment, however, it quickly developed a following.
Cut to 2020, Chef de Cuisine Jacob Zuidervliet and the rest of the gastronomic geniuses behind Belon’s highly praised reputation extended the rustic luxe interior design, the ingredient provenance, and the preparation-focused dishes that have graced the pages of many publications and social media to a dining destination accessed via Elgin Street in SoHo.
Given the hip neighbourhood locale, Belon still exudes a surprisingly exuberating fine-dining aesthetic with plaster artwork revealing a history of the fleur-de-lis motif. At the same time, it pegs itself as a homey, unhurried restaurant with an easygoing vibe – courtesy of the ’90s and early noughties hip-hop music in the background – that hides the greater ambitions of the chefs.
“I like to think that we are introducing guests to something they would expect in the grand restaurants of France, both in terms of culinary execution and service in our intimate SoHo dining room,” says Chef Jacob, “We are focused on building a restaurant experience where there is no sleight of hand or showmanship; it is about providing solid, friendly service and food that is prepared with excellence and presented in a way that is sincere to its origin.”
With month-on-month menu updates, the cascading a la carte supports this endless dedication, smoothly flowing from apéro or predinner, to a tasting menu and latenight drinks while featuring distinctive and modern French staples.
The team stretches the limits of a tiny kitchen, working the wood-fired oven over time. Precision is the driving force to their efficiency and everything must be timed so that the heat levels can quickly adjust.
A case in point is Cervelas en Brioche, smooth pork sausage cooked inside brioche dough, the chef’s personal favourite from his vast list of creations. The commitment to quality, though, starts long before anything is fired up. “It is a deceptively simple dish when it is served, but the amount of time, practice and technique that goes into preparing it is staggering. It is an excellent representation of our style of food, simple-looking but complex in flavour and technique.”
Though French, Belon brings inventive Asian touches to a playful menu. On our visit, we begin with the unabashedly French starters of Smoked Saba (mackerel) with Shishito Pepper and Yellow Courgette; Dungeness Crab with White Asparagus and Caviar; and Canadian Spot Prawn with Ravioli and Champagne Sauce.
A medley of mains comes right after: the bistro inspired Kinmedai with Cassoulet and Lardo di Colonnata; Hokkaido Scallop with Morel Farci and Sauce Hollandaise; and Quercy Lamb Saddle with Walnut and Swiss Chard.
These are the temptations that will make first-timers and regulars return for more. However, the true highlights of Belon’s taste test come in the form of Whole Roasted Chicken with Petits Pois à la Française; and Miyazaki Wagyu Striploin with Pomme Aumônière and Sauce Barigoule.
We close with an assortment of decadent desserts such as Gâteau Basque with Sherry and Foie Gras; Rhum Baba with Mango; Honey and Passion Fruit Millefeuille; and Black Truffle Gâteau Marjolaine. A portfolio of wines and other tipples complete the culinary escapade.
A faultless dinner recommendation, Belon is infused with a deep indigo hue and understated floral arrangements, while hints of underwater geometries of fish scales, coral and sponges recall found pieces from an abandoned shipwreck that serve as inspiration for its name and the dishes. More than good food and beyond a gateway to French cuisine, this restaurant proves that it is possible to give the level of attention palates deserve.
Belon, 1/F, 1-5 Elgin Street, SoHo, Central, Hong Kong. Tel: +852 2152 2872
Text: Joseff Musa Photos: Belon Video: Jack Fontanilla