The chef behind Ta Pantry welcomed us to her new restaurant in a quiet Wan Chai cul-de-sac

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Two summers ago, Esther Sham opened the new location for her private kitchen Ta Pantry in a harbour-facing industrial unit in North Point, which we immediately lauded for its intriguing design and quirky, globetrotting cuisine.

Recently, Sham quietly introduced her newest project – the French-themed maison es on a quiet Wan Chai cul-de-sac, tucked away on Electric Street in the Star Street precinct. It’s not immediately apparent at first glance that it’s a restaurant, with its pale green frontage and luxurious array of flowers, but more like a Parisian florist. Inside, the space is generous (perhaps even bigger than most modest bistros in any arrondisement) and done up in those shades of pastel that Sham unabashedly endorses. It’s feminine, though not saccharine, and the gentle background music of classic French crooning sets the vibe.

 

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Sham sourced the furniture and crockery herself, many which are vintage finds from French markets. A terrace, accessed through French doors, naturally, leads to a small garden with patio furniture (including a small princess bed for Sham’s pet dog, Xiao Feng – something of a celebrity herself) and towards the entrance to yet another surprise: a cosy private room that also doubles as a kitchen space for workshops and demonstrations. Here, diners can enjoy the degustation menus that Sham presented back in the original Ta Pantry.

There is a slight departure in the main dining room in terms of the food offered: an a la carte and lunch set is currently offered, with dishes such as seared langoustine on warm miso butter corn and mozzarella salad, lobster carpaccio in chilled tomato water, maple roasted pork belly with sautéed lardons and brussels sprouts, and coffee pain perdu with cinnamon cream.

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Among the dishes we sampled, the coddled egg with black truffled mash served with crisp toast soldiers was an example of comforting flavours done with simplicity and aplomb. A second starter of crispy foie gras and fig wontons sat on a bed of mushrooms drizzled with sweet balsamic, an ideal example of how Sham enjoys blending tastes, textures, and culinary references.

For the moment, Maison Es is in friends-and-family mode, and will have its grand opening on May 19.

Maison Es, G/F, No 1 Electric Street, Wan Chai; +852 2521 8011


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