Francesco @La Maison Franck Muller in Hong Kong
What’s small, sophisticated, pretty new to Hong Kong and oh so perfectly formed?
No, not me, I’m well over six feet; I’m talking about the new and delightful Italian-Japanese culinary experience that has recently hit the city, FRANCESCO by FRANCK MULLER®.
The story behind FRANCESCO is quite unusual and certainly an interesting deviation from the standard ”great chef opens new restaurant”. It started way back in 1992 when a talented young Swiss watchmaker, Franck Muller, and watch manufacturing specialist, Vartan Sirmakes, teamed up to create the extraordinary FRANCK MULLER® company.
Since then, they have been responsible for some of the major technical advances in the history of haute horlogerie (that’s fashionably elegant watch-making) and along the way have collaborated to create some stunning timepieces favoured by celebrities, including Sir Elton John who is said to have a collection of over 150!
Found at 15–21 Sharp Street East, the four-storey House of FRANCK MULLER® is part of the famous Causeway Bay shopping utopia and while it naturally showcases the beautiful FRANCK MULLER® collections, it also offers exquisite fine dining on the second floor at its small, but stylish restaurant, FRANCESCO.
Enjoying a pre-dinner drink at the bar with views into the busy and bustling kitchen for a tantalising taster to the meal you are about to enjoy.
Speaking at the launch, Kingston Chu, Vice Chairman and Managing Director of Sincere Brand Management Limited and Franck Muller Fine Dining Limited, explained: “Our vision is to present our guests with an impeccable luxury retail environment at our concept boutique, along with a paralleled dining experience.” This vision also includes a third floor restaurant, EIGHTEEN SHARP, with a contemporary Chinese menu.
The conceptual link of luxury retail and fine dining Kingston Chu refers to brings together two of the most exciting and popular elements found in the city. With the elegance and allure of FRANCK MULLER® watches and a selection of dining options all under one roof, it is a mouth-watering proposition and one that is already receiving critical acclaim.
FRANCESCO is a small, select restaurant with seating for only 49 guests and is currently open from midday to midnight. Design wise, it takes a simple but effective route featuring stone and white brick walls. The fish-scale design on the feature divider is a thoughtful and typical tribute lifted directly from some of their stylish signature timepieces.
Décor is cheerful and almost minimalist, with both Japanese and industrial influences. The colourful environment is inspired by another of the signature watch collections, “Colour Dreams”. For example, the colour of each of the chairs represents the colour on one of the indexes on the Colour Dreams’ dial. The mixed bright and comfortable seating extends to the bar seats, which have an excellent view into thekitchen and preparation areas. Together, the interior design works beautifully to create a relaxed and pleasing ambience.
“FRANCESCO is a select restaurant with seating for only 49 guests and is open midday to midnight. Design wise, it’s a simple but effective concept featuring stone and white brick walls with the feature divider and wall having a fish-scale design – a thoughtful tribute lifted directly from some of their signature stylish timepieces.”
Thecreative menu, along with the high levels of service and the brand pull, will no doubt ensure a level of success. But the long term requires more than just a name. The marrying of Japanese and Italian
cuisine is an interesting yet challenging idea. At FRANCESCO, it is done with style and thought and the culinary team has successfully revitalised many traditional dishes adding a further dimension.
Signature dishes include Sashimi Octopus Salad – a refreshing dish made with fresh Hokkaido octopus, mixed greens and wasabi pickles with homemade basil dressing; Wagyu Oxtail Stew – a hearty beef stew infused with cherry tomatoes, aubergine and assorted vegetables bringing out the richness of Italian cuisine; and Linguini topped with Scallop Au Gratin – Japanese mushrooms tossed in homemade tomato sauce topped with scallop au gratin, the strong earthy flavour orchestrating perfectly with the al dente pasta.
Of course, some high-end brands have already taken this conceptual path of tying fine dining with luxury retail and many have found great success. At the House of FRANCK MULLER® naturally only time will tell, but on first view, it looks like they are making yet another masterpiece.
Roasted Okinawa Miso Pork
A simple yet delicious classic slow roast pork
main course from the kitchen of FRANCESCO by Franck Muller.
• White Miso 250g • Bonito Miso 200g • Orange Jam 150g • Garlic 2 cloves
• Sake ½ cup • Light soy sauce 15g • Mirin 50g • Okinawa Pork 250g
1. Mix White Miso, Bonito Miso, Orange Jam, chopped garlic, sake,
soy sauce & mirin together in a bowl. Smother onto the pork and marinate
for 48 hours in a refrigerator.
2. Place the marinated pork in vacuumed cooking bag.
3. Slow cook pork in vacuumed bag at 52C for 8 hours.
4. Roast over an open fire until golden yellow, turn to the other side,
repeat and serve sliced.