A.O.C eat & drink | New ‘Fish Bar’ menu at an authentic French bistro in Wan Chai
When I think of Hong Kong’s dining scene, I generally think of a handful of old school famous places (high or low end), a revolving door of trendy new restaurants often opened by a celebrity chef, and various cheap and cheerful local delights. Small, cozy bistros generally don’t come to mind. But that’s not to say they don’t exist. Recently, I had the opportunity to try A.O.C eat & drink, a tiny little bistro, sister to Le Bistro Winebeast, on a street right beside the bustling Lee Tung Avenue in Wan Chai.
You may be wondering what A.O.C stands for. Turns out it’s for “appellation d’origine controlee” which is a special French certification to ensure the quality and integrity of products such as cheese, wine, and butter. Given that these are some of the core aspects of French cuisine, I was excited for what was to come!
The menu changes with the season but it’s always crafted by Chef Stéphane Guillas, a Brittany-born chef who focuses on simple dishes with a twist. For this visit, we were checking out his new ‘Fish Bar’ menu for spring. A.O.C has formed a partnership with Qwehli, a Paris-based fishmonger to ensure they have a regular supply of fresh, responsibly-sourced seafood.
So what’s on the new menu?
We started with the Tapenade with Crackers ($68). The olive-based spread was rich and salty… and spicy! Very nice. A light starter that packs a punch.
Who could resist a plate of oysters at lunch? These Fine de Claire ($128 for 6 pieces) ones were juicy and fresh, and served with lemon wedges and red vinegar with shallots.
The Prawn Caesar Salad ($138) came as a large serving that was plenty for two to share. It was packed with tasty ingredients from large slivers of parmesan to fatty anchovies and of course perfectly cooked prawns.
Given that the Grilled Mackerel on Focaccia ($138) is such a huge portion, it’s great value and tasty too. The red bell peppers and onion confit were cooked in a way that toned down their sharpness leaving sweet and light flavours to complement the oily fish. The only downside was that the focaccia was a bit difficult to cut so we ended up using our hands.
Then it was time for our main courses.
How beautiful is this French Dover Sole ($278, from Les Sables d’Olonne and fished with trammel nets) with grenobloise sauce? Perfectly cooked, drowning in buttery sauce, and served with a simple bowl of potatoes with leeks.
While we were quite stuffed at this point, we couldn’t resist trying the Atlantic Salmon Coulibiac ($268, from Norway, farmed) with spinach, mushroom, and sorrel sauce as well. This dish was heavy but even within a meal of very satisfying dishes, this one stood out as my favourite. The salmon was cooked evenly, the sauce was indulgent, and the pastry was so wonderful - slightly crispy but with good flavour and chew. It tasted refined but in a ‘like mom used to make’ kind of way.
A.O.C has some wonderful dishes on its new ‘Fish Bar’ menu. While the prices, especially for the mains, are on the higher side for a casual restaurant, you get what you pay for. The quality of the fish and produce are excellent and the comfort-style French food is delicious. An alternative would be to check out the restaurant at lunch where they have great value set lunch specials where you can get soup or salad and a main for around $120.
15 McGregor St, Wan Chai, 2479 6833
*By invitation for Foodie