Battle of the Bistros

Bistro: in its original Parisian incarnation, a bistro is a small restaurant serving French home-style cooking and wine at a moderate price and in a modest yet welcoming setting.

In the past few weeks, Hong Kong Island has seen no less than three French bistro opening their doors, all three of them being fully booked a few days in advance. Hong Kong diners love nothing more than a new trendy place. But do all three bistros have what it takes to last on a very competitive dining scene and qualify as proper French bistros?

I have visited them all and sharing my feedbacks. So, bistro or not bistro?

Bouillon Bistro Parisien

Opened early October, Bouillon is the first restaurant founded chef Johan Ducroquet, who was previously the chef at Le Bistro Winebeast (a much-loved French bistro in Wan Chai), in partnership with his friend, an French crafted-spirits importer, Gregory Alexandre.

Set at the charming corner of Pound Lane, in Sheung Wan, Bouillon welcomes you in a vibrant atmosphere reminiscent of Parisian brasseries. Think counter seats, rococo vibes, wine and bistro staple such as organic egg with mayonnaise or leek salad for starter, classic beef tartare or prime rib to share as a main and profiteroles for dessert.

Cherry on the cake: the restaurant has already become a canteen for a few French expats in town (including yours truly) and you’ll be sure to hear some French words here and there adding to the authentic bistro vibes.  

Bistro or not bistro? Bistro!

Jean May

Tuck amidst the flower and fruit stalls of Wan Chai market is a little green façade hiding a modest but rather cosy dining room and the kitchen helmed by chef Tiffany Lo. Having trained under Michelin-starred chefs in London, including chef Pierre Koffmann, a French chef who has won many accolades during his career and is one of the very handful of chefs in the UK to have been awarded three Michelin stars, chef Tiff aims at serving seasonal, simple yet flavourful cuisine in a friendly atmosphere. On the menu, you’ll find bistro staple, served with a little twist: a wagyu beef tartare, razor clams with parsley and garlic, chicken liver parfait, duckbreast. Watch out for the daily specials and the natural wines selection.

Bistro or not bistro? Bistro!

Bâtard

A collaboration between restaurant group Piccolo Concepts (also behind French café-restaurant Bistro du Vin) and wine retailer The Fine Wine Experience, Batard seats within the 7,000 square feet of The Fine Wine Experience’s space in Sai Ying Pun. Not exactly cosy but definitely beautiful. On the menu, you will find seasonal bistro food and fine wines. Simple and uncomplicated dishes include the House-mad duck rillettes, the baby squids a la plancha but also dishes to share in proper bistro style such as the signature roast chicken. However, there are also a few fancy, and not so bistro, additions to the menu such as the cold angel hair with Kristal caviar. As for the wine list, it is more on the fine wines side with the prices that go with it.

Bistro or not bistro? Bistro but not a 100% traditional one, less cosy and slightly more expensive.