Not content to rest on its Michelin-starred laurels, Central lunch crowd favourite Arcane has launched a brand new vegan tasting menu. You may remember that we featured their vegetarian menu early last year, a successful Green Monday collaboration, with a much lauded seven-course meat-free menu, and after multiple requests by patrons for a 100% vegan version, Chef Shane Osborn has indulged them with a gorgeous plant-based feast. “Quite a few of my diners asked me for one so I thought it was time,” explains Osborn, We were invited to try the new menu for lunch and spoiler alert: it was truly one of the best meals we’ve had in ages. Innovative & delicious, every dish sings with seasonality.
The Perth-born father of two worked in Europe for two decades, where he was awarded two Michelin stars at London’s Pied à Terre before opening Arcane in November 2014 in Hong Kong to great fanfare and Arcane’s cuisine is defined as a modern European, but Asian influences are felt throughout his food. Osborn is a chef committed to celebrating the freshest, highest quality produce, particularly partial to Japanese & French farms, so expect ingredients on the menu to change often.
Our lunch begins with an ode to the Turkish eggplant dish imam biyaldi served with Japanese fruit tomato, pistachio, baby artichoke, basil and courgette along with award-winning Marfuga olive oil. A highlight is the soy horseradish cream, which underpins everything.
Next we are served the Crapaudine beetroot with aged balsamic vinegar, pickled cornichons, sunflower seeds and smoked olive oil – the addition of compressed watermelon adds freshness and originality to the earthiness of the beets. Osborn loves to play with textures and purity, somehow managing to enhance every vegetable and fruit’s flavour essence while doing so.
A mushroom medley followed: a warm salad of Daikiku shimeji, truffle, celeriac and charred cabbage surrounded by cashew butter. Crisp leaves and rich sauces make for an umami-packed dish, this is our favourite so far. Until the next course comes along: handmade rigatoni with seared broccolini, garlic chips and Girolles mushrooms (lead picture). Hong Kong used to be a place where you were hard-pressed to be served handmade pasta. Thankfully that’s changed and it’s glorious as the fresh stuff is world’s away from dry pasta. Case in point, this seaweed & buckwheat rigatoni is chewy and full of bite and we could eat bowls of it.
Vegan desserts are challenging for even the best chefs- without dairy and egg, many classic cakes and puddings are difficult to recreate. Osborn shines here, with a toasted aquafaba (that’s bean water to you non-vegans) meringue topped with apricot kernel coconut Chantilly. The meringue is chewy and crispy, the whip is creamy without an overpowering coconut taste and the dish is elevated by the sweetest strawberry consomme and the ripest Necavignes (a type of French nectarine fruit). Can I get another please?
Meat or no meat, this was one of the best lunches of the year. Osborn clearly loves his plant ingredients and coaxes them to elegant greatness. With this new menu, he is elevating the city’s vegan dining scene and showing that the future of fine dining can (and will) be vegetable-centric.
The Arcane vegan tasting menu (HKD 750) is available everyday for lunch and dinner and the individual dishes can also be ordered a la carte from the regular menu too.
Arcane: 3/F, 18 On Lan Street, Central; +852 2728 0178; Email firstname.lastname@example.org for bookings.
All images courtesy of Green Queen.