Musings of a bon vivant in Hong Kong


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Fish & Meat- Delicious Simplicity

For all our mod cons and modern living, humans are really uncomplicated creatures at heart, and this is becoming more evident with food trends. These days we are exploring the benefits of a more pared down diet and going back to basics, with nutritious yet simple cooking. Maximal Concepts, with their ever-growing empire, (Brickhouse, Blue Butcher and now Mott32) are doing just that, with their restaurant Fish & Meat. Their philosophy is to provide rustic, honest cooking, sourcing the freshest farm-to-table ingredients. As the name implies, the menu is replete with fish and meat and is split into small and large plates for sharing amongst friends, farmhouse, family style.

Fish & Meat

Fish & Meat

F&M F&M

The first time I went was in a large group to make the most of sharing as many plates as we possibly could. Whisperings amongst friends who had already paid a visit told me a fair number of their small plates were worth checking out. The Sea Urchin Bruschetta with lardo di colonnata may not be to everyone’s taste, depending on your fondness for sea urchin, but there was no denying their freshness. I love lardo di colonnata and the fatty flavours lent themselves well to the dish, countering the strong sea urchin. The fresh burrata with grilled Australian yellow plums was good and satisfied our cheese cravings, though the price was a little eye-popping at $180. I’m not quite sure what they coated the crispy whitebait in or what they put in their aioli, but this basket of tiny fish could put someone into food rehab, i.e. ridiculously moreish.

 Sea Urchin Bruschetta

Sea Urchin Bruschetta

Fresh burrata

Fresh burrata

Crispy whitebait

Crispy whitebait

The pan-fried baby Spanish octopus with white bean puree , garlic, parsley and chilli was met with mass approval. I particularly enjoyed the contrast of the crispy exterior of the octopus against the tender meat. The white bean puree was lovely but I would have been happier if the garlic and chilli flavours were little more dominant. The Californian artichokes ‘Barigoule’ with  Black Label Galloni Prosciutto and Mustard Vinaigrette was possibly the most disappointing of all the dishes we had, mostly due to the price and what we actually got. At $170, there really was not very much to look at apart from a meagre sprig of leaves and a couple of artichoke halves topped with two shreds of prosciutto. But all was not lost as the soft duck egg raviolo with ricotta cream, burnt sage butter and pecorino was a winner. Who can resist a burst of golden egg yolk from a secretive, innocent-looking pasta spaceship? None of us it seemed, as we all attacked the cheesy, gooey goodness with gusto.

Soft duck egg raviolo

Soft duck egg raviolo

Pan-fried baby octopus

Pan-fried baby octopus

Californian artichokes ‘Barigoule’ with  Black Label Galloni Prosciutto

Californian artichokes ‘Barigoule’ with Black Label Galloni Prosciutto

Next up, two hand-ground Dutch veal and pork meatballs with melting fontina cheese and a pepperoni sauce eyeballed us. Let’s just say, cutting each meatball into quarters doesn’t exactly cut the mustard. I’m definitely having a plate of those to myself one day. At this point, it was rather difficult to fit in anymore than one main dish X 2 for our group of 8, so we settled for the Slow-cooked Spanish Tereul pork belly porchetta , Italian fennel sausage and apple marmalade. This was ridiculous. Ridiculously good I mean. Tender, bursting with flavour and the apple marmalade was genius. But, there was something even better. And this will sound strange as it is a side dish, but, the sweet-corn polenta. Strike me down with a feather, if this wasn’t the best side dish I have ever tasted. This was definitely a magical dish as we had to order this twice during our meal. I can’t really describe it, but it was comfort epitomised.

Dutch veal and pork meatballs

Dutch veal and pork meatballs

 Slow-cooked Spanish Tereul pork belly porchetta

Slow-cooked Spanish Tereul pork belly porchetta

Sweetcorn polenta

Sweetcorn polenta

Do leave some room for dessert, or at the very least, room for the Sicilian lemon tart with clotted cream which I enjoyed the most. There was a good balance of citrus tang and sweetness with a lovely crumbly pastry base. The deconstructed, whipped mascarpone cheesecake with raspberry shortbread crumble was yummy but almost too light. I couldn’t help but think of the crumbs from Crumbs! Chocolate fans will enjoy the Chocolate Lava Cake with Salted Caramel and Vanilla ice-cream, where flavours lovingly hopped from salty to sweet in every mouthful.

Lemon tart

Lemon tart

Chocolate lava cake

Chocolate lava cake

Mascarpone cheesecake

Mascarpone cheesecake

Lunch is a simpler, more laid-back affair with a pared-down selection of small and large plates. By kind invitation I had a lovely lunch one afternoon and was introduced to the new lunch menu. A couple of the starters from the dinner menu are kept, including the moreish crispy whitebait, but we tried the new addition Crab and Jalapeno crostinis with frisee salad. It is a plain looking dish, but the taste has more colour owning to a fiery kick from the jalapeno. They are quite generous with their crab which is piled high atop the crostinis and is a rather refreshing seafood meaty starter to get the tastebuds going.

Crab and Jalapeno crostinis

Crab and Jalapeno crostinis

For mains, we opted for the hand-ground veal and pork meatball baguette with mozzarella, pesto and tomato sauce, the slow-cooked Spanish Tereul pork belly porchetta ciabatta with pork and fennel sausage stuffing and gremolata (both a clever lunch variation of their dinner counterparts) and their saffron risotto with crispy sea bream, scallops, squid and prawn.

Spanish Teruel pork belly ciabatta

Spanish Teruel pork belly ciabatta

Saffron risotto

Saffron risotto

Veal and pork meatball baguette

Veal and pork meatball baguette

The baguette and ciabatta were toasty perfection, and extremely satisfying for lunch. The pork belly was still deliciously tender and I loved the gremolata which made this dish pop with more flavour. The meat was almost reminiscent of Bee Cheng Hiang’s BBQ meat! The risotto was also excellent- creamy, but not too rich with fresh seafood ingredients. This was a hearty, warming and aromatic dish.

To end we had the amazing Chocolate Pot, which, even as a non-chocoholic, this was sublime. A heady medley of salty chocolate, nutty, praline, biscuit heaven.

More Chocolate pot

More Chocolate pot

Chocolate pot

Chocolate pot

Maximal Concepts have done it again with their magical food know-how and have, I think, successfully delivered their concept. The food is honest, simply done without skimping on technique and the service is quite smooth. Ambiance is fun and as the menu is designed for sharing, make sure you come with more than one person so you can graze happily through the menu. The price per person will vary depending on a) greed b) which items you choose as some are not that price-friendly c) how many people there are.

Chopstixfix rating: 4/5

$$$-$$$$$$$$$$

Fish and Meat  2/F, 32 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong, Tel: 2565 6788 

Many thanks to Maximal Concepts for the kind lunch invitation. 

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I got no Blues at this Butcher

It’s an utter meat-fest in Hong Kong right now. With Harlan’s Striphouse, Edo & Bibo and now Blue Butcher, joining the plethora of steakhouses, such as Bistecca, Morton’s , Ruth’s Chris, to name a few, it’s a quagmire for the average diner to choose where to go to sink their chops into a hunk of flesh. I’m not a steak addict. I’m a total carnivore however, but my meats of choice are pork and lamb. For me, as long as my steak is medium, has enough burnt bits round the edges, has some fat and is still juicy, I’m a happy girl. I’ll be the first to confess that I’m not the most ‘discerning’ when it comes to steak!

Blue Butcher interested me a great deal because it presents itself as a ‘meat specialist’, not a steakhouse, which is an attractive concept. Portions are generous and sharing, family-style is encouraged.This New York style restaurant is the only one with a walk-in dry-aging room, which is carefully positioned at the front of the dining area like a piece of modern art-work for diners to gawk at. All produce and herbs are from local organic farms and the meat is meticulously chosen from a variety of sources from around the world.I managed to squeeze in a hearty meal at Blue Butcher before its official opening. Upon rocking up, I noticed that it doesn’t have a sign yet, so if it wasn’t for my friend, I would have blithely walked past its shady entrance. Another ‘downside’ for the lazy Hong Konger is its location. It’s on Hollywood Road, between The Press Room and Classified, so you’ll have to pound the pavements to earn your meal, unless you want to incur the wrath of taxi drivers by asking to be taken from the bottom of the escalators. The ground-floor is a tiny space for a tiny bar; then a slightly dangerous staircase leads you to the main floor, opening up to display an open kitchen and hefty, farmhouse-style wooden tables.Head Chef Danny Chaney and his team, (who all sport cool hairstyles and look like they’ve leapt from the pages of a Rock ‘n’ Roll magazine), are a flurry of activity in the kitchen and it’s clear they all get on like a house on fire and are passionate about the dishes. Chef Danny is vibrant and personable, (I will be eternally grateful to him giving me one out of the last eight mini-sliders at the opening party!), and judging from his creative menu, is a man who likes to make an impression.

As a ‘meat-specialist’, I was extremely impressed by the appetisers or ‘small plates to share’. All too often, the major steakhouses wow with their meats but don’t quite maintain their standard with their starters. I adored the pigs head terrine, which I saw, with interest, was served with pickled onions and a smudge of mustard. The mustard really made all the difference to the chunky meaty flavour and I forwent the toast, and ate the terrine with only the mustard! The Spanish ham and egg with asparagus and mushrooms, was equally outstanding. My friends and I couldn’t get enough of the ham and sous-vide egg combination and used up all the bread, scooping out the leftovers. The bone marrow served with coarse salt flakes was delightfully rich, but sadly, the marrow itself was on the small side, and in seconds, it was all gone.We were a big group, so ordering almost everything seemed to be the thing to do. Unfortunately for me, we didn’t order the lamb (I’ll have to go back for that), but one of the dishes was the US Kurobota Pig Belly & Cheek, Lentils and Granny Smith Apple Slaw. This, together with the Dutch Veal Cheek & Sweetbreads with Truffled Orzo and Herb Salad, were the most dazzling dishes of the night.

The pig belly and all its fatty goodness was astonishingly tender and melted in the mouth. The tartness of the apple slaw and the lentil stew were a good, contrasting accompaniment to the richness of the pork.My palate couldn’t decide which it enjoyed more: the firmness of the sweetbreads giving way to a wonderful silky taste, coupled with the tender veal cheeks or the fantastic truffled orzo, which was sublimely creamy but surprisingly not that heavy. (I went back to Blue Butcher a second time and I asked for, and was granted, a plate of the orzo on its own- nom nom nom).The Slow-cooked maple leaf duck breast was well prepared, and although tasty, in comparison to the rest, it wasn’t a standout dish. We also tried the Line Caught Sea Bass with clams, shrimp and broth which was excellent and showed off Chef Danny’s competence with seafood as well as meat.The Australian Mann River Farm Wagyu bone in Rib Eye was a lovely hunk of juicy, fatty beef, cooked to a perfect medium. As I said before, if it’s cooked the way I like it, I have no complaints, and the meat was succulent.On my second visit, we ordered the free-range charred French chicken, which arrived in a hot pan with its juices soaked up by the carrots and onions. The simplicity of the preparation makes this a marvellous dish, with no attempts to make it fancier.  The chicken was meaty and moist, and would definitely go well with a hunk of bread to soak up the remaining juices and make a mini sandwich!Out of the five desserts on offer, we had three: the Granny Smith apple crumble with port and walnut ice-cream, the Eton Mess with basil sorbet and the maple tart with lemon whipped cream. The port and walnut ice-cream was an applaudable combination and whilst I enjoyed the crumble, I prefer my apple crumbles with chunks rather than slices of apple (but perhaps that’s the Brit in me). The Eton Mess a little messy in terms of flavours. The basil sorbet completely overwhelmed the delicate meringue and cream and both would be better served individually. The maple tart got my seal of approval and it was mostly down to the lemon whipped cream which paired wonderfully with the sticky sweetness of the tart.For a newly opened establishment, Blue Butcher has made an admirable first impression on people’s palates. It’s hip and fun, and there are dishes which will ensure that it has a regular and loyal following. It’s on the pricier side, but for whacking big portions, perhaps you’ll think the food is worth its weight in pure protein. At the moment, I’m unsure what will be their ‘signature’ dishes, but if they keep the standard up, it could well end up being more than half the menu! Make sure you try their cocktails, I hear they’re a blast.

We all got a goodie bag at the opening: pretty cute, especially the world’s smallest tin of sea salt. 

Chopstixfix rating: 3.5/5

Blue Butcher, 108 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong. Tel: 2613 9286

$$$$$-$$$$$$$$$$ (Including drinks)

Interior shot of Blue Butcher courtesy of internet