Rating: ★★★★☆

Address: G/F, 227 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan 上環荷李活道227號地下

Telephone: 2426 0880

平時想吃簡單法國菜的話通常都會去法式bistro,但最近我發現了一家很有特色的法國餐廳,叫La Cantoche,意思是”飯堂”。餐廳由來自法國的David Sung所開,由於David的父母曾經在越南及Laos居住,所以餐廳的部分法國菜混合了亞洲菜的元素。食物的份量大,而且很惹味,八位以上還可以預訂一個派對菜單,每位$450便可選擇菜單上的任何菜式及任飲紅,白酒。晚上和朋友來吃頓飯真的十分不錯!

When I think about casual French dining, a bistro usually springs to mind. Recently, however, I have discovered an alternative, which is a French “canteen”! La Cantoche, meaning “canteen” in French, located just off Hollywood Road (near 208 Duecento Otto), is a humble, laid-back eatery opened by French-born owner David Sung. The interior is like a physical extension of David’s character – with its graffitied whitewashed walls, cement floors and a foosball table, it looks more like a bachelor pad, or even a teenage boy’s bedroom, than a restaurant in the middle of Sheung Wan.

As David’s parents have lived in Vietnam and Laos before, some of the menu’s French offerings incorporate Asian elements in them, resulting in dishes that are interesting yet comfortingly delicious. The portions are robust and the pricing is very reasonable. David has recently introduced party packages for parties of 8 and above, so that at $450 per head, you can select any dishes from the menu to share and have free-flowing wine all night. There is a 10% service charge for the party menu, but otherwise service charge isn’t imposed. I am sure, though, that you would be very willing to tip their energetic, attentive staff generously!

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(1) The sardines in escabeche marinade ($70) boasted a symphony of bright, refreshing flavours, and the citrus elements worked very well with the oily fish.

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(2) Using a recipe from David’s mother, the La Cantoche Rice Krispies lettuce wrap ($75) brought a smile on many faces at our table! The crispy rice offered a fabulous crunch, and the strong lemongrass fragrance was invigorating.

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(3) The goat cheese spring rolls in big salad ($135), with oozy, melty goat cheese filling out the entire spring roll, was utterly moreish.

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(4) The roasted camembert cheese with potato balls ($150) was a gooey, cheesy and hearty dish, but some discerning palates detected a hint of bitterness in the camembert.

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(5) The 100% filet minced beef steak ($145) had spot-on flavours. The minced beef was tender and supple, and the tangy seasoning perfectly complemented the steak’s natural flavours.

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(6) The taste of spices in the chicken skewers marinated in oriental spices ($135) could have been stronger, but otherwise I really enjoyed eating the firm, juicy chicken.

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(7) The Merguez ($145), i.e. beef and lamb sausages, were satisfying. The sausages were nicely grilled, and the delicious meaty flavours were enhanced by a hum of spices.

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(8) We also enjoyed the raison & lamb tajine with couscous ($165). Served in a gentle, sweet sauce, the lamb was soft and tender, and the almond flakes added a delicate touch.

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(9) The ham & reblochon cheese chicken cordon bleu ($145) was well executed, with the crispy, breaded surface forming a beautiful contrast with the moist ham and cheese filling.

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(10) Our party menu included a range of side dishes, such as mashed potatoes and yellow beans. The most memorable side dish was glazed carrots, which were naturally and enticingly sweet.

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(11) We were completely full, but insisted to march on with the desserts, and these turned out to be real winners! The M&M’s nougat ice-cream ($60) was addictive, with bits of ground M&Ms making it extra tasty; the chocolate cake ($55) was a thin, velvety cake which was buttery without being overly filling and the coconut, rum & raison bread pudding ($55) was also gorgeous in an exotic way.

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I was surprised by the interesting and fabulous dishes that La Cantoche offered. Dishes were mouthwatering, the staff were welcoming and the atmosphere was casual in a hip, unpretentious way – it is an excellent alternative to classic French bistros!