Tucked away on On Lan Street, Arcane – proud owner of 1 Michelin star – stays true to its name by offering gourmands a discreet place to escape the hustle of the city, while conveniently being located right in the heart of it.
Helmed by multi-award winning chef, Shane Osborn, Arcane serves modern European cuisine, offered by way of a seasonal A la carte menu, alongside specials and a set lunch menu. As the first Australian Chef to achieve one and two Michelin stars at Pied à Terre in London, Chef Osborn then followed with a new solo venture, Arcane, in November 2014.
Upon entering, you will be welcomed with a wine cellar, complete with over 1,000 wines – a delightful nod at some of the marvels soon to follow. The intimate 36-seat restaurant is furnished with fine artworks and oak interiors, while the open kitchen provides a sneak peak of the behind-the-scenes action.
Explaining the concept behind Arcane, Stefano Bartolomei, Arcane’s General Manager and Wine Director, explains that fresh ingredients are key to the restaurant’s signature. Most are imported from Japan and Europe, while others are grown in-house. On warmer days, alfresco dining is available in the terrace area, redolent of a tropical English garden, complete with lush greenery and a garden where Chef Osborn grows a selection of herbs, fruits and vegetables.
Admirably committed to the cause, the restaurant’s determination to offer only the finest of ingredients does not stop there. Born and raised in Umbria, the “Green Heart of Italy”, Bartolomei brings a little piece of his childhood to Arcane, in the form of Marfuga’s award-winning organic extra virgin olive oils. Made from handpicked olives from the groves of the Marfuga hills, the olive oil is then crafted at a family-owned mill with a 200-year tradition of olive oil making.
The D.O.P. Umbria (HK$248 per bottle) and L’Affiorante (HK$308 per bottle) are two of Italy’s finest and award-winning organic oils and are exclusively available at Arcane, Hong Kong. The premium and diverse product is used as an essential ingredient in Chef Osborn’s seasonal dishes, not only bringing a wealth of flavours, but also a wide range of health benefits such as reducing cholesterol and inflammation. While the lighter of the two, D.O.P. Umbria, can be used for cold preparations such as salads, fresh cheese or grilled fish, the more intense L’Affiorante is recommended on soups, red meats, lentils or braised preparations.
To gain a better understanding of how these two “extreme oils” – as labelled by Franceso Gradassi, owner of Marfuga – are used in Chef Osborne’s creations, we embarked on a culinary adventure.
To begin, we were presented with the signature dish of Japanese fruit tomato with imam bayildi, rocket pesto, sour cream and marfuga olive oil. Sweet, salty and tangy with a tart almond touch, thanks to the D.O.P Umbria olive oil.
Next up, was the Sautéed potato gnocchi with truffle and pine nut cream, morel mushrooms and wild garlic leaves. The delicate dumplings were easily devoured thanks to the silky smooth texture, while the creamy garlic sauce drizzled over the meaty morel mushrooms was a match made in heaven.
To finish, we were presented with Macadamia ice cream with fresh almond, topped with frozen L’Affiorante olive oil. That’s right, frozen olive oil is ‘A Thing’. While I felt undecided as to how I felt about a dessert with olive oil, I nonetheless rose to the challenge and was pleasantly surprised. The unexpected fusion of the cold and creamy macadamia ice cream against the waxy olive oil, at first, was admittedly unwelcome. But after the initial crunch (or two) of the fresh almonds, the ingredients unusually mingled together to create a harmonious medley of sweet and salty flavours.
As I pondered in silence, I very quickly came to the conclusion that there can be more to olive oil than meets the eye.
In a city of unimaginable eateries, even the most experienced epicures will be surprised with Chef Osborn’s ability to unpredictably pair these rich (and at times, rare) olive oils with the freshest of sweet and savoury ingredients.
If you are feeling inspired to incorporate these healthy alternatives into your daily diets, a visit to Arcane should definitely be on the cards!
Address: Arcane, 3/F, 18 On Lan Street, Central
For more information please visit, www.arcane.hk or call (852) 2728 0178
Text: Hira Desai