Ever since HKFoodie and I started this blog, I have become the designated person to decide on venue whenever there is a group gathering. Recently, a friend came back from London and a few of us decided to gather round in Happy Valley for dinner. Was flipping through a local mag which raved about Le Coquillage and its Araignees crab soup and its seafood in general - so I promptly made a reservation.

We walked into a relatively busy restaurant and happily settled down at our table next to the bar. Since it was rather late already at eight thirty, we quickly placed our orders for the set menu, which included a seafood platter, the signature asparagus crab soup, and main courses. At HK$238 per set, we agreed that it sounded like good value for money. Of the mains, two were meat dishes and one a fish. Was told they ran out of the daily special fish so opted for the alternative (salmon) instead. Was mildy annoyed (first of many) when they came back and told me they ran out of salmon as well (there were a few tables occupied but it not that busy a night) and that only the meat dishes were left. When I mentioned I would very much prefer a fish, the waiter was indfferent, and hence I was forced to choose the lamb unwillingly.

First up was the seafood platter, which included oysters, whelks and half a crab. The oysters seemed fresh (no fishy smell) but did not have much of a taste. This was odd to me, given that I was told the owner is a seafood importer. At best I could say the platter quality was so-so, the oysters at Tapas Bar were much more exceptional. As we were busy catching up with each other, we were slow in finishing this platter and after twenty minutes, the ice supporting the oysters started to melt. Yet none of the waiters bothered to came by to attend to our watery mess or offered to change the plates for us. With all the recent news about food poisioning and hygiene, am surprised that the waiters were not more attentive.

Next came the asparagus crab soup, which was made with the Araignees, or more widely known as spider crab, famous for its sweet tasting meat and smooth and luxurious crab roe. The soup that was presented to us was pale green in color, versus the orange color (from the crab roe) that we saw in the magazine.It tasted no difference to any normal cream of asparagus soup with little taste of the crab, let alone the crab roe. An obvious thumbs-down.

We did give Le Coquillage some brownie points for the uni linguine, which arrived next. On its own, the pasta was dry and hard, but it was a lot more delicious when mixed with the tasty uni, which melted from the heat of the pasta into a gooey texture.

By now, it was already nine-thirty and we waited impatiently for our main courses to arrive, as it was a work night. We looked around in vain for a waiter to speak to us, and this was amusing because the place only has less than ten tables and there were four or five waiters running about. We realised the reason once we turned to look at the other patrons of the restaurant. As it turns out, some show biz stars were sitting at a nearby table of more than ten people, and the waiters were flurrying over there the whole night trying to satisfy their whims and demands. We could only assume that the kitchen was told to do the same, as we just sat there for at least another frustrating thirty minutes for nothing. One of my friends, who had had a particularly bad day at work, was so annoyed he decided to storm out of the restaurant even before the mains were served. Surely, given we were all paying customers, such differentiated services were unwarranted. All extremely tired from a long day of work, we did not make a big fuss about it and just carried on with our conversation, although we were also tempted to leave.

By the time the mains arrived, we were too irritated to really appreciate the food. The lamb chop was quite average while the oxtail fared slightly better in taste. I'd expect a bit more from a restaurant that prices at these levels - the mains tasted similar to those one'd have at the chinese-style western restaurants, where a set menu retails for HK$120. Agree that meat dishes are probably not the best gauge of a seafood restaurant's quality, but there was little that we could have done, as the choices were limited. Even though we have had little to eat all night, we left most of the food untouched.


Apologies if this sound like a half-hearted attempt at a food review, but I just do not get motivated in reviewing bad restaurants... am open to comments that say you've had better experience than we did though, although I'd be surprised to see any.

Le Coquillage, 28 Yik-yam Street, Happy Valley
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