Walk along Duddell Street in Hong Kong and you will easily spot four street lamps that take you to a different era.
The four lamps on the Duddell Street Steps, which were built about a century ago, are the last four street lights powered by gas in the city and have now been declared historical monuments.
And it is precisely the way these simple gas lamps have illuminated the small street in the bustling Central district over the decades that has served as the inspiration for the recently opened A Lux, a fine dining restaurant nestled next to the famous steps.
Upon entering the restaurant, I was immediately transported to a different space with its timeless and simple decor.
Central to the design is the use of a variety of lighting, including both LED and filament lamps. But they all bring a comfortable and warm ambience to the space, which allows one to unwind and temporarily escape from the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong city life.
In fact, the restaurant takes its name from lux, the SI unit of illuminance.
This refined but simple approach also extends to the food and service, with the waiters introducing each dish in a warm and relaxed manner.
Headed by chef Kwan Wai-chung, who made a name for himself while at Harlan’s, A Lux focuses on seasonal and fresh ingredients and does not overcomplicate its dishes.
My first course was a Smoked Salmon Imperial Fillet with Baeri Caviar. The Balik-style salmon had a less smoky flavor compared with your usual smoked salmon, so it didn’t taste too salty, even when served in bigger bites. It was also delicately matched with the seasonal vegetables, truffle powder, avocado purée, cauliflower purée and sour cream.
The second course featured Scallop, Asparagus and Iberico Ham. Seared beautifully, the Hokkaido scallops went well with the savory Iberico Ham and asparagus purée, demonstrating perfectly chef Kwan’s simple approach to cooking seasonal ingredients.
The next course was a Lobster Bisque with Ravioli and Cognac. The sweetness of the Cognac was a surprising touch and further brought out the flavors and velvety texture of the lobster bisque.
The fourth course featured Fettuccine, Confit Duck Leg and Truffle. The combination of pasta and confit was a delightful fusion of favorites from Italian and French cuisines. Homemade with eggs from Italy, the pasta was perfectly al dente. While it was a nice touch to have the duck meat removed from the bone, I found the seasoning a tad heavy on my palate.
For the main course, there was a choice of a Sea Bass Fillet with Ox Tail or Beef Ribeye Cap, Pumpkin and Shallot.
I preferred the beef dish, which was tender and flavorful, while the surf and turf course was well-made but did not offer many surprises.
For desserts, there was a choice of a Ginger Crème Brulee with Caramel Sauce or an Orange Chocolate Mousse and Chocolate Sponge Cake.
I personally preferred the ginger crème brûlée, which was especially refreshing at the end of the six-course meal. When I first started eating the crème brûlée, it was like a sorbet, slowly returning to its creamy texture as time passed. The chocolate dish was flavorful but did not stand out as much.
Verdict: Overall, I enjoyed the restaurant and its simple and honest approach to making good food, as well as its cozy and sleek decor. However, with the dining scene in Central being extremely competitive, A Lux will need to constantly update its menu and offer more surprises to gain return visits from customers. But I understand that the restaurant, which has only opened for a few months, will be introducing new menus in the near future. I am definitely looking forward to the next culinary moves it makes.
A Lux, Shop M2, M/F, Baskerville House, 13 Duddell Street, Central, Hong Kong. Call 2663 9938 to make a reservation. The six-course dinner menu reviewed is priced at HK$1,180 per person (plus 10 percent service charge).