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Ageing Brings Out the Flavour of Free-range French Poultry

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Mohamed Seghir, Manager at Akrame Hong Kong, showing how free range guinea fowl from Bresse, France, is cooked on a shipon. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

Hong Kong Restaurants

Cantonese chefs think that the freshest ingredients are the best ingredients, but the French chef at a fine-dining restaurant disagrees, maintaining that meat should be aged up to two weeks before it is cooked.

One of the hallmarks of food in Hong Kong is that ingredients at the best Hong Kong restaurants - at Hong Kong Chinese restaurants, at least - are supposed to be as fresh as possible.

That's why many Hong Kong seafood restaurants have large tanks with fish and other types of edible marine life swimming around inside them.

According to Lise Deveix, Chef de Cuisine at Akrame Hong Kong, however, meat needs to be properly aged before it is cooked.

And I'm not just talking beef. I'm also talking poultry, such as the free-range guinea fowl that Lise imports from Bresse in Southwestern France.

The same goes for pigeon and lamb.

"We let it age because just after you kill the animal, the flesh is contracted, and the meat is tough," Lise explains. "So you need to wait between seven and 14 days to let it relax and for the muscle fiber to be broken down by the enzymes inside the muscle."

As a result,  the meat becomes more tender and more flavourful. And there's another consideration: the fowl's diet.

"Guinea fowl eat not only grain, but also insects, earthworms, and herbs," Lise says. "They eat them because they are more like game than
poultry. They are almost wild. That's why the taste is stronger than normal poultry."

Following a traditional French cooking method, Lise cooks the foul on a porcelain syphon for 20 minutes, rotating it every five minutes. The only seasonings are salt and grease.

It's the kind of dish that French families would consume at home on Sundays, Lise says.

Sunday Brunch at Akrame

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Mohamed Seghir, the Manager at Akrame Hong Kong (left), with Chef de Cuisine Lise Deveix, and Marie, a Casual Waitress at the eatery. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.
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Pecking at: black cuttlefish biscuit and smoked eel, brioche with whole grain mustard and Parmesan, and sesame biscuit wiith avocado. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.
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Vegetal: egg, corn, and red shiso. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.
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Vegetal: beetroot, watermelon, and comte. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.
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Meat: Guinea fowl with pistachio, French beans, and potatoes. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.
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Sweetness: pineapple, yogurt, and dill (left) and chocolate, herbs, and meringue. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.
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Mohamed Seghir presenting a second dessert. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

Our brunch began with three small bites: black cuttlefish biscuit with smoked eel; brioche with whole grain mustard, and Parmesan; and sesame biscuit with avocado.

An egg with corn and red shiso followed. Popcorn added a whimsical - and crunchy - touch.

Paper-thin slices of beetroot, watermelon, and compte were artistically arranged on plates.

Our pallets were cleansed with a melon and finger lime mojito served in a hollowed out ice cube.

Mouth-watering Main Course

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Mohamed Seghir (left) and Marie presenting the main course. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

Then came our mouth-watering main course: two juicy slabs of perfectly cooked Guinea fowl: one white, one dark.

They were served with French beans and a potato mousse atop onion comfit with one fried potato chip on top.

Emily Post might not approve, but I dipped the fowl in the creamy mousse!

Following the two desserts on the menu, chocolate with herbs and meringue and pineapple with yogurt and dill, we were offered two more sweets.

Akrame Hong Kong serves three and six course meals at lunch and four and six course meals at dinner. On Sundays it serves brunch rather than lunch. The restaurant is closed on Monday.

Akrame Hong Kong is one of the growing number of French restaurants, cafes, bistros, and brasseries that have been opened in Hong Kong by the city's mushrooming legion of French expats in recent years.

Akrame Hong Kong was opened a couple of years back by Akrame Benallal, who also runs the eponymous Akrame Paris in Paris, France. The restaurant has  one Michelin star.

Where

Akrame, 9 Ship Street, Wanchai, Hong Kong. Telephone: (852) 2528-5068. Restaurant Website: Akrame Hong Kong. Social Media Platforms: Facebook - Twitter - Instagram

Akrame Hong Kong is a short walk from the Wanchai MTR station on the Island line. It is a 15 minute walk from the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

The restaurant is a short taxi ride from Central, SoHo, Lan Kwai Fong, Admiralty, Causeway Way, the Happy Valley Racecourse, and other points on Hong Kong Island.

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