Shane Osborn’s food at Pied a Terre was complex, technically impeccable and some of the more compelling in London at the time. After leaving Pied a Terre, he came to Hong Kong to run the kitchen at Alan Yau’s St Betty’s. Radically different from what Osborn was used to in the past, St Betty’s wasn’t really what he longed for and decided to move on a little more than a year ago. In November 2014, Osborn opened Arcane, which brought him back to a restaurant that allows him to do what he knows and likes doing best: cooking with high quality products.
The small restaurant is located in On Lam Street, in the same building as ON Dining and Lai Bun Fu. What sets Arcane apart immediately from the moment you walk in is the plush atmosphere. The room is not too big, the open kitchen is the dominant decorative feature, and it feels like a place that doesn’t try to show off. Attention to detail is evident in everything from the Zalto stemware to the beautifully chosen wine list.
The food at Arcane is much simpler than it used to be at Pied a Terre. Focused on Japanese produce, dishes rarely feature more than three components, allowing the produce to truly shine. A stand out dish is gnocchi with mushrooms. The mushroom ragout is intensely earthy and autumnal, and the fluffy/crunchy pan-fried gnocchi add a welcome textural contrast. This is supremely flavourful food that you would happily eat on a daily basis.
Equally beautiful is sawara mackerel that comes timed perfectly with cauliflower and a buttery shellfish ragout. This too is a dish that doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel, but rather delivers flavours that simply work. The product quality is evident and the cooking is assured. There is a special place in our hearts for chefs that do not try to simply show what they can do, but rather serve food that a guest might want to eat.
Arcane feels like a restaurant that delivers a most appealing dining experience. It’s not radical in any way, nor is it overly classical. It feels as if Shane Osborn has found a place where he can cook the food he actually enjoys, which we will follow with great interest.