Restaurant ・ Italian・Japanese
Francesco by Franck Muller is above the brand’s Causeway Bay shop, tucked behind Times Square on Sharp Street. The Franck Muller Color Dreams Collection inspires the interiors – expect bright and bold tones in geometric patterns and shapes. There is a distinctly contemporary and cosmopolitan vibe with both Italian and Japanese elements to reflect the menu. The space is small enough to feel intimate and homely without being over-crowded and the seats are comfortable. The lampshades deserve a second look.
The decision to fuse two of the world’s most loved cuisines sounds like it could be a sure-fire success or an unmitigated disaster. In fact, Francesco manages to land somewhere in the middle – there are dishes that both comfort and intirigue with a new combination of well-loved flavours, but there are also dishes that don’t quite hit the mark. The menu matches the mood in that it is a playful chance to try new flavour combinations in a smart yet relaxed manner.
For starters the slow cooked abalone and daikon falls more on the Japanese side with punchy flavours of bonito, seaweed, and sake. A more fusion option is the chicken croquette which is stuffed with crab roe and served with a mayonnaise mentaiko that perfectly cut through the bold fried chicken notes.
The tofu marinated chicken casserole bought sweet and sour flavours of the land of the rising sun and sits on a bed of delicate Japonica rice. The slow cooked wagyu beef cheek features an intense signature sauce and pancetta and is served on that ultimate flurry of Japanese Italian fusion, the rice-shaped pasta orzo.
It is definitely worth saving space for something sweet to end your meal and the dessert sampler takes away the antagonizing choice by presenting three options at once. Our favourite is the panna cotta, which reassures with a vanillary creaminess yet surprises with a black sesame coulis.
Francesco’s wine selection is fairly concise but there is something likely to suit most tastes. The list portrays a propensity to the old world with a good selection from France and also a healthy range of prices. Francesco also offers some innovative cocktails which are well delivered. The Prugna (a blend of umi sake, melon liquer, and fresh lime) is a brilliantly fusion expression to round off the evening.
The staff at Francesco are warm and welcoming to match the homely vibe. While it may lack the level of refinement of some of the city’s restaurants, it was certainly attentive and personable.
Francesco is a great option to sample some new flavours in a relaxed cosmopolitan environment. The prices are fairly reasonable (expect to pay less than 300 for a main and around 140 for a starter) and the wine list features some competitively priced glasses.