La Salon Restaurant et Croissanterie @ Hong Kong
Opened barely a year in the equally new Hysan Place along Causeway Bay Hong Kong, La Salon Restaurant et Croissanterie, a chic-looking French bistro by local restauranteur-chef Tony Cheng has already made news with their filled croissants freshly out of the oven everyday. Waves of raves from the local HK food bloggers as well as good reviews on Openrice made me very curious on just exactly how good they are. So for the recent trip to Hong Kong, trying out their croissants became top on the “to-eat” list and I’m so glad I did!
Well, filled croissants ain’t exact a new thing which it comes to traditional French baking. Properly made French croissants do not have a very long shelf life (typically 4-6 hours max) and Croissants aux Amandes became a clever way devised by the classic French bakeries to “recycle” not-so-prim-fresh croissants and transform them into a totally different creature altogether. The “makeover” is done by simply by filling them up with an almond-based cream and sending them back into the oven again for a new lease of life. Freaking good actually, considering they are essentially made from “stale bread”!
The croissants at La Salon Restaurant et Croissanterie however, are freshly baked everyday… make that several times a day. They are filled as it is, not some rework done on old croissants. Coming in a staple of 5 flavours, there is a 6th piece, i,e, “Flavour of the Month” which change well… monthly!
And for June when we’d visited, the “Flavour of the Month” was Smoked Salmon. And on top of that, we’d tried everything except Tiramisu which coffee ain’t exactly my thing. Yes I know, roll your eyes all you want! *chuckles*
So how did the croissants fair? First bite was into the chocolate piece. The pastry was flaky and light, albeit very slightly leaning towards being greasy. Well, It is made of butter after all, and french butter it was with pastry dough made from… yes you’d guessed it right, french flour! The ratio of dough to butter is in an artery-clogging 1:1 as proudly stated in the poster! And “buttery-ness” we most certainly can sense! The chocolate piece was really good. The creme au chocolat filling is luxurious and rich, though not as dark as I would probably have liked it to be but given how amalgamated the whole piece worked out, I could live with this little misgiving and go for second helpings anytime! A twist from the classic Pain au Chocolat where chocolate batons are customarily used, the chocolate cream filling in Le Salon’s version most certainly did the trick!
And then there is caramel… Like the chocolate piece, this was baked beautifully with a lovely amber glaze which imparted that wonderful caramelised aroma that echoed the filling within while remaining uber crisp. The caramel filling itself was not too sweet. Good for us as the last thing I want was anything cloying to spoil my day. It most certainly aroused the G-spot I must say… the “G”astronomic one that is!
Then we tried mango… similarly well executed croissant which was studded with granulated sugar crystals. Purportedly made with Alphonso mangoes from India, it was truely aromatic and would definitely woo any mango aficionados to pop by here daily. But we weren’t too swooned by it as the first bite instinctively told us that it was frozen mango puree that was used. Coming from a place where good quality mangoes are available all year round fresh and ready to be eaten or used, the use of process mango puree is something which I would have lesser preferred. Then again, that is just quirky me speaking.
Vis-a-vis the other standard flavours which are draped with either nuts or crystalline sugar, the “Flavour of the Month” piece looked much cleaner and less pretentious in comparison. Well, its modest appearance belies its magnificence supposedly. Or does it?
Within the flaky facade lies its creamy innards which had a somewhat bechamel-like consistency with chunks of smoked salmon within together with chopped onions, thickened with roux. The flavours are decent to say the least but not as tongue and palate-invoking as the earlier sweet pieces. That said, this is much much better than the crappy salmon dish which I had on the SQ flight to Hong Kong. The chunk of salmon was crazily briny to the point of being sacrilegious while the omelette draped over it was all rubbery and the hash-brown damp and drab on the side. The inflight meal was in short vile and disgusting which leaves little to wonder why SIA no longer holds the title of being Best Airline of the World. Anyway, I’ve digressed…
The last piece we tried was Chestnut. It ran out when we ordered so we had to wait for the next round to be baked, which was fortunately not too long away. Croissants are rolled out (pun intended!) on an hourly basis, a small batch at a time to ensure their freshness and the effort alone is commendable.
The chestnut croissant was very good as well and being just out of the oven, I would have expected nothing else from it! Apart from the crystallised sugary glaze, there were also morsels of chopped chestnuts being embedded on top. That probably helped the waiting staff to distinguish the filling within. The chestnut cream filling was luscious with sweetness well balanced. It reminds of Mont Blanc of course, but otherwise quite unique on its own.
So yes, do visit La Salon Restaurant et Croissanterie for a croissant fix if you are in Hong Kong. New batches are baked on an hourly basis from 12 pm til 6 pm so be sure to visit just before or slightly after each time slot to catch the next lot freshly out from the oven.
I think we’d found the best croissants in Hong Kong… for now at least!
Le Salon Restaurant et Croissanterie
Shop No. 1302, 13/F, Hysan Place
500 Hennessy Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
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