• ecriture executive chef Maxime Gilbert announced in an Instagram post that the restaurant in H Queen's, Central, had closed and everyone had lost their jobs
  • ecriture's operator, restaurant group Le Comptoir, has not announced its closure, nor responded to a Post request for comment

ecriture, the two-Michelin-star French fine-dining restaurant in Central, Hong Kong, appears to have closed.

It is the latest in a string of high-end restaurants in the city to shut in recent months, from Haku at IFC Mall to Kontrasto on Hollywood Road.

Phone calls to the restaurant were not being answered at lunchtime on Wednesday. The lifts at H Queen's were not stopping at the 26th floor, where ecriture is located.

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ecriture's operator, restaurant group Le Comptoir, has not announced its closure, nor responded to a Post request for comment.

The sudden closure was announced on social media by ecriture's executive chef, Maxime Gilbert, who posted a statement on his personal Instagram account on Tuesday.

"Yes, it is a bit of a shock. I am still shocked," Gilbert told the Post, but did not elaborate further.

In 2022, Gilbert was named best chef in the Post's 100 Top Tables awards.

His Instagram post begins: "Today marks the end of a dream, the end of an adventure, where I met so many incredible people from all the fabulous team members that currently work and worked here, the guests that support us, the suppliers that bring us the most fabulous produce, the journalists and awards and accolades that encouraged us and gave us global recognition but the company I worked for as an employee suddenly decided to close ecriture.

"I have no idea of what will be the future yet. One thing that is for sure is the whole team at the premises all lost our jobs."

As of noon on Wednesday, the post had had more than 1,000 likes and nearly 200 comments - many from top Hong Kong chefs and food writers.

Rex Wine and Grill's Nathan Green expressed his love for Gilbert, and Jerome Quilbeuf, previously of three-Michelin-star Restaurant Sant Pau, offered his support from Japan.

"Courage Maxime! The future will be much better," read the comment from Quilbeuf. "You have all our support from Japan. Whatever you need, mon ami."

Vicky Lau of two-Michelin-star Tate Dining Room wrote: "Maxime, my deep admiration for you and your team's incredible accomplishments throughout the years. Keep shining. We will be there to support you in your next venture."

From Bangkok, chef Gaggan Anand wrote: "[You] deserve better."

French-born Gilbert worked for the acclaimed chef Yannick Alleno at Le Meurice in Paris and eventually ended up in Asia working at Stay by Yannick Alleno at the Shangri-La in Beijing.

He later took up the role of chef de cuisine at Richard Ekkebus' Amber at the Landmark Mandarin Oriental hotel in Hong Kong before leaving to open ecriture in 2018.

The string of recent restaurant closures in Hong Kong comes after the first summer in four years without Covid-19 restrictions. Hong Kong reported almost 3.6 million tourist arrivals in July, an increase of over 30 per cent compared to June, but still a far cry from pre-pandemic numbers of around 5.4 million arrivals in July 2018.

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The executive director of the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong, Fanny Yeung, told reporters in January that the sector was an estimated 50 per cent down in manpower compared with pre-pandemic levels, because of workers switching careers.

In a recent report by the Post, Ronald Wu Keng-hou, executive director of Gray Line Tours and a Hong Kong Tourism Board member, commented that the dining preferences of tourists from mainland China had changed.

While they were spending more on dining than shopping, the types of venue they frequented tended to be more casual, he said.

"You see them spending the most on dining nowadays. And I'm not talking about Michelin three-star restaurants, I mean fish-ball noodles and Hong Kong-style eateries like cha chaan teng."

After opening in 2018, ecriture established itself as a special-occasion fine-dining restaurant; it was awarded two Michelin stars in 2019.

Seasonal menus started at HK$980 (US$125) for four courses and HK$2,288 for 11 courses. Diners loved the avant-garde menu items, such as Hokkaido scallops contisee with black truffle cooked in a crispy beignet (doughnut); and raw amaebi (prawn) served with red onion jelly and beetroot feuillantine.

One of the restaurant's iconic creations was a caviar uni tart (HK$1,388), a luxurious combination of Royal Caviar Club Schrenckii caviar, Hokkaido sea urchin and kabu bavaroise (set custard with turnip) in a buckwheat tart shell with beurre blanc (white wine and butter sauce).

Since September 5, the restaurant had been playing host to a pop-up from Kokoro restaurant by Japanese chefs Tada Satoshi and Shimada Hiroshi that was supposed to run until the end of the month.

Meanwhile, Gilbert is scheduled to cook at Amber's alumni return dinner between September 18 and 20.

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This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (www.scmp.com), the leading news media reporting on China and Asia.

Copyright (c) 2023. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

2023-09-13T08:31:50Z dg43tfdfdgfd