Monday, July 25, 2011

Bettys Kitschen - Alan Yau, or Chef Jerome Lagard’s adorable Food?

  The question has been occupying my mind for a few weeks,  prior to setting foot here for a bloggers’ event.  What makes it a great idea to visit a Western food restaurant opened by a locally born OBE recipient Alan Yau?   Yep, he is certainly famous for his Asian eateries in London and in the Middle East,  conveniently picking up 2 Michelin Stars in the process with the likes of Hakkasan and Yautacha 1*  (which was fantastic by the way),  also internationally recognised for his successful pseudo-Japanese Wagamama chain, Sake no Hana and Cha Cha Moon.   What made him tangent off majorly and open a non-Asian restaurant in Hong Kong?   That has got to be the ultimate million dollar question..

I am happy to report back, that I’m starting to form a better sketch of the idea.   Reading the press coverage of Bettys will have us conclude that this is Alan Yau’s fanciful new baby of a Modern European restaurant, named tackily to bestow upon it a British choir girl image that’s further emphasised by the staff’s maid-like uniforms.   Yet by the time I was walking out of the door holding onto a satisfied stomach,  I  believe this is really much more about Chef Jerome Lagard’s food and creations.   If I was the person responsible for managing this innocent and very 1950’s sounding restaurant,  I will probably leverage more on Chef Jerome and his ingenious dishes and let his run wild to unleash it’s true potential, rather than relying on it’s Asian investor’s name -  because we found him to be a calibered and capable chef!   What attracts the center of attention on Jerome’s Menu in Bettys were the rarer to find French Basque country recipes and produce,  where the Head Chef was born and raised.   How’s that for a better marketing point?    Nouvelle Basque Food,  has finally arrived in Hong Kong!




Nice Communal style dining tables at the back…!


Princess Tam Tam -   $68
Made from carrot, orange, ginger and rosewater.  Refreshing, but is a little pricey right?


Bettys on the Rock -  $98
Vodka, Sake, Lychee Juice, Coconut, Lime and passionfruit,  only when Lychee is in season and this is their signature cocktail!   It was very impressive as the additional of Sake worked well with these fruits as a combo.  Highly recommended!  ~  9/10


Dita Von Teese -
Vodka,  Lemongrass, Lime and green Grape Juice.  I ordered this because of the name of the hottie brunette it’s named after and became curious at how the restaurant intends to make a signature drink out of her!   It’s pretty refreshing for summer,  and I like how there isn’t too much overwhelming lemongrass taste as it can offset the balance!    ~  8/10


Bread Rolls -
These were really lovable with a crispy crust and a very soft centre.  Although technically this is not traditional French bread,  it was still tasty bread!  ~   9/10


Jambon du Kintoa, Kintoa Ham Plate -  $98
There’s been some contradictory info published on this Ham, so let’s 1st begin with another basic one first!  In South-West French-Basque country,  their most well known ham is called Jambon du Bayonne,  which is akin to a less saltier version of Italy’s Parma Prosciutto with a pinkish flesh,  made from either 1 out of 8 types of permitted Pig’s DNA breed and raised at nearly Sea Level in Bayonne!     In comparision,  the re-introduction of a nearly extinct breed of Kintoa Pig in Pays Quint (Kintoa, Aldudes) region was a last ditch effort to save this pig’s unique DNA strand,  which shares ancestry to Spain’s Iberico pig ~  with the biggest difference between these being the pig’s hoof colors as Kintoa have white hoofs, not black like it’s Iberian cousin!      Kintoa pigs are raised West of Bayonne, away from the sea and along the East side of the Pyrenees and bred at an sea altitude of around 350–500m,  not exceptionally high but higher than pigs raised in Bayonne and Parma regions.   With a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status and the pig itself having won a medal of Concours General Agricole Paris 2011,  the Kintoa Ham is less amber red yet simultaneously less marbled than its Iberico counterpart,  but carries a sweeter and mellower flavour which lies comfortably between Bayonne Ham and Iberico Jamon!   Very lovely!   Served with some EVOO drizzled tomato concasse on toasted farmhouse bread,  which needed slightly more seasoning or even garlic…   ~    9/10



Compressed Watermelon Salad, using Spanish DNA Watermelon from Philippines -  $88
For some reason this is a new thing to hit HK, although there are places which already does sous vide ‘vacuum-compressed’ fruits in their desserts.   My 1st time eating Compressed Watermelon was nearly 10 years ago in Australia,  and this Betty’s version is quite contrastingly different as it is not overly compressed and therefore not very ‘meaty’ in texture with most of the air pockets remaining intact.   It’s eaten together with some flakes of cheese, avocado, tomato, melon, raspberry and fig with a slight drizzle of balsamic.   Those who’ve eaten before Watermelon slices compressed at the highest sous vide machine setting,  should instantly recognise that the texture served here is not so similar to the almost Tuna-like texture we’re used to experiencing!    To me, I’ll prefer this to be slightly more compressed to reflect it’s originally invented textural goal!   ~   7/10



Heirloom Tomato salad with Burrata Cheese and Pesto -  $158
The French Imported heirloom tomatoes were fairly impressive, with a bursting flavour impact which simply cannot compare to the genetically modified hydroponic grown tomatoes.  Dotted with a light pesto all round is a variety of heritage DNA tomatoes ranging from Coeurs de boeuf, Tomates Zebrees, Tomate Golden, Noire Ronde and Green Zebra, which becomes the highlight of this wonderful salad!   The Burrata cheese was also great in cheesy flavour but a bit too rubbery and curded up today,  as they should almost flow internally and carry distinctive layers such as the one eaten here:   Cul de Sac, Rome.    Recent updates report back that Bettys Kitschen has now swapped to flying in fresher Burrata cheeses more regularly,  which is a nice gesture and definitely worth a revisit to revaluate!!  ~   7.5/10




Pea Soup with Bacon and Brittany Lobster a la francaise -  $188
This was fairly good and the soup is meant to be poured tableside into the piece of French blue lobster.   A few people have complained about it’s highish price for a soup,  and I think knowing the price of this Bretagne sourced ingredient,  it’s actually not bad at all.  But then again it’s very light delicate flavour becoes a bit covered up by the pea and bacon input, isn’t it?   Perhaps substituting it with a local green lobster is going to be more balanced in this instance -  as we can help reduce Carbon Footprint whenever it is more practical,  save some money and in the end also offer us Customers a more affordable soup, which is mutually and environmentally beneficial!  Eat Responsibly whenever it is practical please!   Nevertheless, this recipe was quite likeable!   ~    8/10


Axoa Cannelloni with Chargrilled Carabineros Wild Red Prawn, Sweetbread – $368
Knowing the heritage of the Chef,  this dish involving a typical Basque country recipe was ordered on the spot to act as a ‘random’ test of the kitchen’s ability to produce dishes outside of the Event’s prepared menu.   The Basque influenced ‘Axoa’ Cannelloni is filled with minced lamb and offals, and on the other side of the dish sits a veal sweetbread thymus gland.  The latter sweetbread is a little too over-cooked for me.   The Prawn was grilled very well indeed and quite fragrant from the charring effect,  although we suspect they decided to swap our Carabineros red prawn with another King Prawn on the day -  perhaps due to freshness issues?   I’ll prefer it to be explained to us first,  as the Spanish red prawns are very different and quite pricy.   Another person visiting here later however, received the proper Carabineros prawn!  Strange!    ~   6.5/10



Stuffed Calamari with Chorizo Venere black rice and Lobster sauce – $188
This was a great dish.  The calamari was stuffed with fresh Basque pimentos peppers and chorizo sausage, which worked well.  The Venere black rice (not Benere, beware of blogger’s menu typo mistake) is like what we Asians are very used to eating as a dessert!  And used in this savoury context here, surprisingly worked amazingly well.  I think some more lobster sauce to counter the heaviness of the black rice,  would just be about perfect!!   ~   8/10


Dover Sole Meuniere – $468
A quick glance at the price of this dish and even when seated as an invited guest,  I felt a bit apologetic to the restaurant because this is one pricy dish!   Although using REAL Dover Sole from England,  which is considered the Royce Rolls of Soles in the world and here was of very very high quality,  I remember seeing this being slightly south of half price elsewhere.  Although to be fair  this came with a few lovely side dishes and the sauteed spinach too,  especially the potato mash which were ridiculously good,  so too was a perfect representation of their Meuniere buttery-lemon sauce and the fish.   This dish was impeccable to me.   I guess for the sheer size of this fish,  it is not bad afterall,  as it can feed 2 people easily!   ~  9/10




Slow roasted Lamb Pyrenees with d'Ebly risotto, & Truffled Mash -  $798
I know Bettys Kitschen won’t like hearing this,  but this was way too expensive,  even if it was quite good.   Pyrenees lambs are usually eaten young as Spring or Young lamb,  so they’re not overly gamey in lamb taste.   I enjoyed the very soft texture of this,  but it was a little bit overly ‘tender’ and missing some herbal/meaty sauce or that Pyrenees lamb’s very unique milky smooth taste.  Compared to the version I had in 2 Star - The Ledbury in London,  I found this to carry room for improvement before they could justify the price.    The skin could have been more crisp,  or the meat carried more flavour, or the sauce needs to be a little bit more seasoned and thickened for instance.   The roasted garlic half wasn’t even caramelised but remained rather raw…   ~    5/10



d'Ebly Risotto -
The accompanying Wheatberry side dish on the other hand,  got the nod of approval from everyone on the table!   Cooked like a creamy rice risotto but in reality,  using a barley like wheat-grain,  this was very additive and finished in no time!  I think the Chinese translation of this as an Italian Risotto on the menu is a bit misleading though!   ~   10/10

Truffled Mash -
Very fragrant,  and very potato-ey and creamy.  The cell structures of the original potato has not been destroyed by over blending nor making it overly starchy, and based on taste and texture alone,  much better than HK Robuchon L’Atelier.   Those who have been to other Robuchon outlets elsewhere will already know that for some reason,  HK Robuchon L’Atelier’s mash is not of the  same standard as other city outlets..   (despite the Robuchon mash being imported from a same sourced location, somewhere in Europe, regardless of where we fly!)   This one?  Lovely and encore,  due to lack of similar attraction around town! ~   9/10


Duck Fat Fries -  $48
This is by far the best Duck Oil fried pomme frites I’ve had in Hong Kong.   Although they’re not as guilt free as the best I’ve had in Europe or elsewhere before,  it at least carried some Duck Fat taste.  The fries were crunchy outside and powdery light inside,  with a bit of a spiced seasoning on top,  and a non-greasy surface despite the duck fat presence.  Great job, especially when compared to the very tasteless and overly fried version at Grand Hyatt Steakhouse.    ~   8/10 



Basque Pierre Oteiza Pork Belly, du puy lentils, Raisin Mustard -
This is another very Basque dish we needed to order,  as it is so representational of Chef Jerome’s background.   Although the press release does claim that Bettys Kitschen is known for their multiple European city dishes,  for someone who has been to Basque before will instantly recognise that Chef Jerome has planted his heart deeply at food from the Basque country.  This is such a typical French/Spanish Basque dish,  with a perfectly cooked and flavourful pork belly which shares roots to the above Kintoa Ham’s pig,  and the skin is deliberately not roasted nor fried to a crispy state.   The Raisin mustard went ever so perfectly well with the tasty pork and the French lentil beans.   An amazing dish  even compared to French Basque standards..   ~  9/10


Black Forest Cake -  $98
This is a very good start to the sweeter part of the meal.   Around 3-4 people on the table thought this gateau was too Alcoholic from the cherry liqueur,  but half of the people (including myself lol!)  thought the Maraschino Cherries could still be a little bit more soaked in the house made Kirsch.   Which must mean this managed to strike a PERFECT balance in terms of personal preferences amongst diner, even though original recipes call for being more spiked with alcohol!    Made with French Weiss chocolate and with multiple layers of sponge cake and smooth cream  this was one of the more memorable and authentic Black Forest cakes I remember having.    A very good effort   ~   7.5/10




Chocolate fondant with Vanilla Ice Cream -  $98
This is also made from 70% Weiss chocolate.  Although the chocolate lava inside was nice and flavourful  (and tasted like it had extra chocolate ganache added in for that flowing effect),  the external shell was a little bit too over baked to be a moelleux cake in transition between outside and inside!   Ice Cream meanwhile was very excellent ~   6.9/10


Crème Brulee – $98
Let’s face it.  Hong Kong’s crème brulee are crap, everywhere.  When cooked in a bain marie or steamed in an oven properly,  they should still be slightly jiggly yet full of eggy custardy taste.   The version in Bettys for now might not be as perfect as the best ones in France -  but it is already one of the more impressive ones around town.   At least it is not overly sugared or starched-up wrongly like some versions I’ve tried locally.   Thumbs up for the effort,  especially if you look at the real Madagascar vanilla seeds present.   The only other capable competitor in town is Paul Lafayet,  but that version is too creamy and not quite eggy enough ..   ~   7.5/10



Hot Chocolate ‘Valrhona’ – $48
I remember someone complained that this was a little too thick but at least it’s not La Maison du Chocolat or Vero Chocolate thick level!  This to me was very impressive as a 70% hot chocolate.   Europeans and Hong Kongers have a very diversified interpretation of what constitutes as a really good Le Chocolate Chaud.    Europeans prefer a fairly viscous almost syrupy version especially in Spain and Italy.   But that sort of consistency is way too thick by local’s standards.   So taking these into consideration,  and the smoothness of the foam and also the cute miniature marshmallows  -  I am going to selfishly proclaim this to be a very good Hot Chocolate drink and comes highly recommended ~   10/10



Earl Grey Tea – $30
This is cheap for this restaurant setting.   I am really starting to think that half the menu here is underpriced,  but half the menu is overpriced!   But this is meant to be a signature tea.  I initially found it a bit too tannic but after the 2nd flush,  this carried a bit of real bergamot oil citrusy smell but did not follow the nose with enough flavours in the palate…   ~  7/10


Espresso -  $18
Being an Espresso Hound,  I had to try their Teres blend of Brazilian Santos, Daterra Monte and Ethiopian Sidamo beans.   This was surprisingly made very well and definitely more than acceptable world standards!  I was really happy because not many restaurants past this test,  as making a good coffee is akin to paying respect and attention to small details!   This was also offered with a glass of Ice Water by the staff,  as is tradition in a café when you order an Espresso.    There are now also on offer some specialty beans available as Drip Coffees, including artisanal Panama Geisha beans from Hacienda La Esmeralda or Micro-lot batches from Central or South America.   This is certainly a shop which pays attention to the small details ~   8/10



Walked away thoroughly Impressed, Indeed - 
Minus the misses here and there  plus a couple of Pricing policies which really needs some addressing to,  even if it is situated inside the IFC.   If they continue on this trend and listen to customer’s feedbacks,  this could potentially become one of the biggest new players in town.   And as for Alan Yau?   Who really cares about him anymore.   All I do care about is Chef Jerome’s food and his latest creations,  plus interesting European dishes..!

Price: $150 - $250 per person + 10%
Food:  ♕♕♕♕ 1/2

Address: 中環港景街1號國際金融中心商場二期2樓2075號舖
Shop 2075, Podium Level Two, International Finance Centre Mall, 8 Finance Street, Central
Ph: 2979 2100


  1. The menu of the restaurant looks yummy. That Jambon du Kintoa made me drool. What also caught my attention is the interior of the restaurant. I like how they integrated plants and fruits in the design. Just look at those communal style dining tables. Simple yet elegant.

    buy dining chairs

  2. Hi Florence, thanks for dropping by !

    That Kintoa ham was very well balanced indeed, just the right amount of cured meat taste, marbling and retaining a bit of pink softness to it. I could eat it all day!

    It is indeed hard to find a really communal dining space in HK for now - it is improving, but for someone who grew up in Australia (I'm actually in Melbourne right now), we kind of miss it when we go back : )



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