My favorite French Bistro in Hong Kong, Les Fils à Maman, is not easy to find. The lower ground floor of 75 Hollywood Road is not actually on Hollywood Road. It is accessed down a narrow stairwell on the northern side of the road, roughly halfway between Aberdeen Street and Graham Street. You may recall this as the location of Song restaurant, which had been one of my favorite Vietnamese spots before its demise.
Les Fils à Maman, perhaps best translated as “Mummy’s Boys”, is related to a Parisian restaurant of the same name and the brainchild of a few nostalgic Frenchmen who longed for their mums’ home cooking. Keeping with the bucolic theme, the restaurant’s rustic interior is decorated with kitschy 1980s memorabilia not limited to those of French origin. For example, a model of the General Lee automobile from the American television show Dukes of Hazzard – complete with its Confederate flag – might better be removed from its window-side location or altogether. With that word of advice aside, the overall experience at Les Fils à Maman has been excellent.
The French- and English-speaking staff are welcoming, knowledgeable and create a comfortable atmosphere that attracts repeat customers. The menu itself is limited, consisting primarily of non-specific items, like the soup, starter, quiche, fish and meat of the day, and dishes available year-round. Notable among the latter is the awesome One-kilo Rib Bone for Two with frites and French beans or ratatouille (HKD800). The dishes of the day are listed on a large chalk board at the centre of the restaurant and on smaller ones brought to your table.
The quiche of the day, a classic Lorraine. Photo: Marc Rubinstein
I brought visiting guests to Les Fils à Maman on my two most recent visits, both times sharing starters and having our own main courses. As a starter, the quiche of the day (HKD60) was a classic quiche Lorraine. The smooth custard of this thin-crusted pie was replete with the salt-cured strips of pork fat (called lardons), topped with cheese, thinly sliced onions and a dusting of dried herbs. The creamy custard and hot pork made for a delicious combination that could just have easily been a light lunch.
From the standard starter menu, I also tried the Three Fish and Vegetables Cold Terrine (HKD50). This tasty rectangle of coarsely minced pâté was a well-priced, sizeable starter featuring a tri-colour band of terrines with a variety of robust flavours that worked well spread on thin slice of baguette or even on its own. The eatery also serves a delicious Baked Camembert, similar to that served at La Cantoche, but priced at HKD155 compared to HKD228.
Sadly, none of my recent dining companions were interested in sharing the One-Kilo Rib Bone. In lieu of that, I tried the meat of the day which was an Australian Wagyu Flank Steak (HKD320), accompanied by the same French beans and frites that come with the ribs. The steak was excellent, perfectly cooked medium rare and served atop a bed of some of the most delicious frites that can be found in Hong Kong. These fries are thinly cut, just barely crisp on the outside and soft and fully cooked through on the inside. The large mound served never fails to disappear with surprising rapidity.
The steak was also accompanied by a truffled red wine sauce, but frankly, it is unnecessary as the meat itself is bursting with the flavour of its intense marbling and is well-seasoned with salt, pepper and herbs. For additional flavour, I would recommend accepting the French mustard in lieu of using this heavier sauce.
The meat of the day: Boeuf Bourguignon with frites. Photo: Marc Rubinstein
Another main I would recommend is the seasonal pot, which recently has been a classic Boeuf Bourguignon with frites (HKD195). This dish is served in an iron pot with large chunks of red-wine-marinated beef, which have been stewed in the traditional way with lardon strips, onions and mushrooms. The meat was rich, delicious and tender just like mum would make (if she were French and also a good cook).
Les Fils à Maman does include a menu of tasty desserts. But, if all of the meat and frites have you mostly filled, don’t worry, as the bill is delivered with a glass jar stuffed with a delicious variety of irresistible gummy candies.
Free dessert! Photo: Marc Rubinstein
In these tumultous times, I’d recommend to indulge in a few more than you would normally allow yourself, and let the momentary rush of sugar suffuse your pleasure centre and take your mind off of current events. Even France might someday consider leaving the EU, but thankfully here in Hong Kong, we will still have rustic French food like that served at Les Fils à Maman to enjoy, regardless of who we are and where we come from.
About the Hungry Lawyer: Marc Rubinstein, born in Baltimore, USA, has been in Asia for nearly 20 years with 13 of those in Hong Kong. He has split his career between banks and law firms, and is currently the general counsel of an Asia-based real estate and alternative energy investor. Marc is a co-founder and co-chair of the Hong Kong Gay & Lesbian Attorneys Network, and previously chaired the Nomura Gay & Lesbian Network, Asia. In addition to being a hungry lawyer, he has run three marathons, eight half-marathons and completed the Hong Kong Oxfam Trailwalker.
Other columns from the Hungry Lawyer:
Hungry Lawyer: Chicken on a Pole at Kowloon’s Tai Chung Wah
Hungry Lawyer: Man Wah, an elegant alternative for dim sum at the Mandarin Oriental
Hungry Lawyer: Beefbar, a Monte Carlo meatery that does beef right
Hungry Lawyer: La Cantoche, a hipster bistro in Sheung Wan that needs to up its game
Hungry Lawyer: Indian Village, a hole-in-the-wall in the heart of Mid-Levels
Hungry Lawyer: Bashu Garden, a Sichuan gem in a quiet part of Sai Ying Pun
Hungry Lawyer: Amigo, the French Restaurant with a Spanish Name Where You Can Dine Like it’s 1979
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