One guest walks into Arcane and orders dinner. She polishes it off, and promptly orders another of the same dish. It’s so good, she returns the next day to have the same thing for lunch.
The dish in question? Cappelletti. The golden, hat-shaped parcels are stuffed with the unlikeliest star ingredient – broccoli. Playing supporting roles are earthy discs of black truffle, bits of pine nuts, smoky broccoli florets and bittersweet swirls of broccolini puree.
It comes down to one thing: honest-to-goodness cooking.
“People identify with real, honest food, and that’s just delicious,” say Arcane’s chef-owner Shane Osborn.
“We try to respect produce and the integrity of ingredients and showcase it in the simplest and most restrained way.”
This means excellent produce turned into light, refreshing dishes like a Japanese fruit tomato with cucumber gazpacho, almond ricotta and fresh almond, or yuzu and lemon posset with blood orange and yoghurt ice cream. The menu, which changes weekly for lunch and monthly for dinner, supplemented by daily specials. If the potato gnocchi with black truffle is available, order it.
Don’t be fooled however, by how approachable Osborn’s cooking is. The man has proven himself in the big league. He made his name at London’s renowned Pied à Terre by pushing the boundaries of haute cuisine for most of his 10 years there as head chef, leading the restaurant to earn international recognition.
He packed it all in and moved with his family to Hong Kong in 2012, opening Arcane two years later. “I’ve always wanted to create a restaurant like Arcane,” says Osborn. “Arcane is more egalitarian, relaxing and fun.”
“I want people to walk in and feel this place is alive, and go ‘yes!’”
Shane Osborn, chef-owner of Arcane
Tasting menus, often associated with fine dining, are not offered, though can be arranged on request. Instead, Osborn sees the restaurant as “refined dining”, understated yet comfortable, with high-quality chairs, linen, water glasses and Zalto wine glasses. Contemporary art, provided by London’s Flowers Gallery, is a striking feature.
“It’s a grown-up restaurant but we’re not wanting to be one of these highfalutin places,” says Osborn.
“When you walk in at night the music is great, there’s a genuine buzz and we put people at ease. I want people to walk in and feel this place is alive, and go “yes!””
And diners love him for it. The restaurant is always full on most nights. More than half the customers are well-heeled, well-travelled regulars who are highly knowledgeable about food and wine, with Osborn usually there to look after them, as well as first-timers.
As someone who has lived with food allergies for almost 15 years, Osborne is also accommodating of guests’ dietary requirements. Vegetarians are looked after, and a vegan menu has recently been introduced. If you prefer an omelette or some steamed vegetables, it can be done. How about premium wagyu beef burnt to cinders? Well, if you must. Osborn’s main goal is to make the customer happy.
“That’s what we do. We’re not here to flex our muscles and show off. It’s hospitality and that’s what we like to show people.”