Musings of a bon vivant in Hong Kong


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Enomod- Social Dining in HK

“Social dining” is a seemingly new term that has sprung up. This concept of eating to socialise and to connect with others should not be a novel philosophy in our society, given that social dining dates back to Ancient Greek times, but now, it has had a modern face-lift of sorts. Like anything in HK, once a concept has taken hold, it becomes the island’s obsession for a while and I can see that social dining will be two words bandied about for the next year by those who want to wax lyrical about dining values, connecting with food and the like. Frankly speaking, it is not much different from having dim sum with your family or sharing plates of tapas, but I suppose actually uttering the words “social dining” is meant to have some sort of profound effect on the way we approach eating with our nearest and dearest or even strangers. Anyway, before I get carried away with the philosophy of eating, (I am having one of those deep thinking days), I will cut to the chase and give my thoughts on new Mediterranean restaurant Enomod.Enomod

Dining area

Dining area

Enomod is the amalgamation of the words Enoteca Moderna, thus reflecting this idea of ‘connection’. Enoteca Moderna represents a form of social dining that emerged in 1930s America and this establishment seeks to blend all areas of wining and dining with several different zones. Taking over the sprawling space that Entourage once inhabited, a lounge area, communal dining tables, a bar, wine corner, charcuterie and cocktail lounge now take its place.

Charcuterie

Charcuterie

The areas are well put together, with plush, comfy chairs and hints of art deco in the lounge section, plain white chairs and dining tables in the social dining zone and darker, night-scene colours and lighting for the bar. The wine barrels in the ‘wine area’ give Enomod a sweet, Italian provincial feel, yet the overall artistry of the place has very much a Great Depression vibe, especially with the copper fixtures adding that little bit of extra character.

Wine area

Wine area

Bar area

Bar area

As it was a friend’s birthday, we decided that there was no better way of celebrating with pals than embracing the social dining concept of Enomod. So it was on a Saturday night that ten of us found ourselves occupying one of the communal tables and perusing the menu of Social Dining and Canteen Selection dishes. As a glutton who hangs with gluttons, it seemed sensible to order almost 80% of the menu and get two of each dish, just to make sure we had most of the bases covered. The Social Dining menu is split into Wood, Stone, Copper and Ceramics, denoting the material of the serving dishes onto which the food is served. We started with the Mezze Platter of crackers, eggplant and hummus dip from the Ceramic selection, which was served on a wooden paddle, (minor detail but get your materials correct!). The eggplant dip was slightly piquant but subtle and the hummus light. Nothing unique, but was a pleasant appetiser.

Mezze platter

Mezze platter

We ordered a daily special- the Balsamic beef stew which was tender and well marinated, though more sauce would have been great. The balsamic reduction was a nice balance of acid and sweet and our party were quite happy with our first shared plate.

Balsamic beef stew

Balsamic beef stew

Next up, the Roasted Seabass from the Stone section made an appearance and this was excellent. The fish was succulent and I loved the light seasoning and coating of the herbs which allowed the seabass flavours to shine through.

Roasted seabass

Roasted seabass

Our Citrus scented Crispy Prawns (Ceramics) were lacking the citrus edge I was looking for and the batter was slightly too thick. They were still appetising but somehow the accompanying mayonnaise was the bit I was more interested in as I ended up with more mayo per bite of prawn.

Citrus scented crispy prawns

Citrus scented crispy prawns

The zucchini, fig and haloumi rolls with Sicilian caponata (a traditional aubergine stew) was absolutely delish, not least because I have not had haloumi in yonks, apart from one night out many moons ago when a couple of us visited Beyrouth Cafe and had haloumi kebabs. The saltiness of the cheese was a delectable complement to the sour-sweetness of the caponata.

Zucchini, fig and haloumi rolls with Sicilian caponata

Zucchini, fig and haloumi rolls with Sicilian caponata

The highlight of the menu was the 6 hour lamb rump with pistachio crust. The lamb was moist and that perfect pink in colour and I loved the textural dimension that the pistachio crust gave. The cheesy wafers were a hit too, shame there were not more!

6 hour lamb rump with pistachio crust

6 hour lamb rump with pistachio crust

It was following this dish that a few of the next offerings became less impressive. The Cinnamon beef tenderloin tips were tasty enough but nowhere near as tender as the balsamic beef stew. The Couscous Bouillabaisse was flavourful, the squid, fish and clams were fresh but I would have enjoyed a tad more bouillabaisse broth over the couscous. The worst dish of the night were the Blue Mussels with white wine sauce which, much to our chagrin, were not fresh. I have not had much luck with mussels of late, and it was really disappointing to find that our bowl of molluscs had gone bad. I managed two, a few friends had a couple each, and we unanimously agreed that we needed to give up on the mussels. The white wine sauce was however, quite flavoursome.

Cinnamon beef tenderloin tips

Cinnamon beef tenderloin tips

Couscous Bouillabaisse

Couscous Bouillabaisse

Blue Mussels

Blue Mussels

We tried two of their pastas- the Penne with Chorizo and Cherry and orange zest, which was nicely al dente and fairly spicy (some may find it a little too fiery to appreciate the lovely citrus tang) and the Tagliatelle with Walnut Carbonara Sauce which was delicious but, as with all carbonaras, became too rich to fully appreciate, especially after all the above dishes.

Penne with Chorizo and Cherry and orange zest

Penne with Chorizo and Cherry and orange zest

Tagliatelle with Walnut Carbonara Sauce

Tagliatelle with Walnut Carbonara Sauce

Spanish Tortilla is my litmus test for any restaurant that offers it, as it is simple but seems strangely difficult to master as I have not had any tortillas that have really satisfied me in HK except for the ones at Fofo by el Willy and Tapeo. I am a little hard to please in this area as my various travels in Spain have given me a high benchmark to compare to but still, a girl can hope! Sadly, while Enomod’s fancy-looking Spanish tortilla was presented lovingly (I would prefer it if they just served Spanish tortilla in one dish rather than cutting it up!), the taste just was not there.

Spanish Tortilla

Unsurprisingly, their sauteed broccoli and pancetta side-dish was a complete hit with our table. Anything with bacon gets the thumbs-up from us!

Sauteed broccoli and pancetta

Sauteed broccoli and pancetta

Desserts were where Enomod became more interesting. We tried all of them- the Absinth Spicy Tiramisu, Ricotta Cheesecake with crushed pistachio and candied orange peel and the Pumpkin Crumble Godmother-Style with Amaretto Bisquiti.

Absinth Spicy Tiramisu

Absinth Spicy Tiramisu

Ricotta cheesecake

Ricotta cheesecake

The Absinth infused tiramisu definitely piqued my curiosity and we were all expecting it to pack a wallop but I was pleasantly surprised by the subtlety of the absinthe. The Ricotta cheesecake was my favourite. The cheesecake was light and nutty and the biscuit base and orange zest made it moreish. The pumpkin crumble can only be described as a scrumptious, adult version of baby food.

Pumpkin crumble

Pumpkin crumble

Dining at Enomod was an enjoyable experience and the birthday girl had fun. While the food was decent, I could not say that anything in particular wowed me for the price (it came to $480 per person including wine) and the mussels tainted the meal somewhat. We would have said something but we too far along the meal to make a fuss. However, as far as socialising is concerned, Enomod does its job but I think it could benefit from a warmer ambience in the dining area. The stark chairs and tables did nothing to generate a cosy atmosphere, but the absinthe tiramisu certainly left a warm feeling in my stomach.

Chopstixfix rating: 3/5

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Enomod HK, 1/F, 1-5 Elgin Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2555 6065, www.facebook.com/Enomod

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Musseling In

Oh là là, and along comes yet another French restaurant, except this little place is slightly different as it’s apparently the first traditional Northern French brasserie on the Hong Kong scene. Replacing Philia on Arbuthnot Road, but retaining the DJ booth for private functions, (not sure if busting out Eminem and Beyoncé is good for the ambience, but meh), Brasserie de L’ile is casual; a place for people watching, having a café au lait or enjoying a quick meal and warm, buttered, crusty bread. Like the function of brasseries in France, the turnover is quick, but that doesn’t mean you can’t while away the time sipping on Chardonnay. The menu is not too dissimilar to what you’d find in other French eateries in Hong Kong, but Northern French cuisine seems to be all about moules-frites, and Brasserie de L’ile delivers. The mussels are exceptional. We had a mahoosive 800g pot of the Ibérique mussels with chorizo, which is enough to feed a nation, though you can also have the slightly easier-to-manage half-portion if you don’t want to feel like a beached whale afterwards. The mussels were exquisite; small and therefore packed with flavour, the soup was delicious and tastes even better when a hunk of buttered bread soaks it up. Definitely the best mussels I’ve had in HK thus far. They also came with homemade fries which were drool-worthy.For starters we had the Cold Cut platter of homemade pork (locally sourced) rillette and terrine, Bayonne ham and saucisson, and also the Warm Goat’s Cheese salad. I adored the terrine, which had a lovely hint of fruitiness from the prunes. The rillette on the other hand was barely flavoured and extremely light, and needed a flavour boost from a slice of saucisson and a piece of bread. The goat’s cheese salad was superb. I’m a cheese fiend, so it doesn’t bother my nose at all if the cheese is smelly and strong, but those of you who shy away from goat’s cheese normally, may enjoy this salad as Chef Bruno Gautier imports the very mild, young, soft Soignon Saint Maure cheese from France. The slices of cheese were ever so slightly grilled to a translucent pallor and had a light herby seasoning. I was really having a wonderful meal and it didn’t stop with the starters and mussels. We were treated to a plate of Steak Tartare which was excellent as well. The beef had a fantastic chunky, coarse texture and was seasoned and spiced wonderfully.Chef Bruno told us that steak tartare should always be prepared not more than fifteen minutes beforehand and at de L’ile, they mix in the egg by hand and cut it coarsely with a knife, rather than use a machine as in other establishments. I think it made all the difference to the taste, as I’ve not previously enjoyed a steak tartare to this level. Or maybe I was high from the outstanding but strong cup of coffee I had at the start and a glass of wine. But I don’t think so. It was genuinely tasty. To end the meal, we had these gorgeous tiny profiteroles. They were ‘pop-in-your-mouth’ goodness. The food’s great, the prices are extremely reasonable, so what’s the catch? If you’re deaf, then this place is perfect for a laid-back meal with friends on a sunny day. However, the noise pollution on Arbuthnot Road is truly horrendous, horns blaring, trucks trundling slowly by, which is a mighty shame because the place is very inviting when they open it out at the front. Maybe it was an off-day, but it’s not the best place for wooing, unless you want to use a megaphone to shout those three little words.

Chopstixfix rating: 4/5

Brasserie de L’ile, 4 Arbuthnot Road, Central, Hong Kong. Tel: 2147 2389. Opening times: 12pm to 1am – Monday to Saturday

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You can also read this review on Sassy.