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

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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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Number 52 Wyndham Street

Wyndham Street isn’t the longest road in Hong Kong, but it sure has a ridiculous number of restaurants and bars along it. Rest assured, you’d never starve or go thirsty. I’ve been meaning to get myself over to W52 for yonks, (the interior always looks very inviting when one is queuing outside of Tazmania Ballroom on a Saturday night), but eating my way through all these places takes a while!

Sassy first visited W52 a few months ago, so I was excited when I was invited to sample their new Spring a-la carte menu one lunchtime.

As you all know, I adore Italian food, and I’m constantly struck by the plethora of ways Italian food is created and presented and this menu certainly offers some refreshing new dishes. Unfortunately, Executive Chef Francesco Berardinelli was away so I wasn’t able to have a chat with him, but his PR lady, (with whom I dined), did leave me with a quote of his that gave me an insight into his creations: “..you can see all the ingredients on the dish, see the taste and the flavours”, (or words to that effect!).

As I settled into my seat, we were given the customary bread basket which included the squid ink bread- lovely and warm with a subtle squid flavour, it was a great way to whet the appetite.For starters, we had the Carciofi- crispy stuffed artichoke hearts with Pecorino Romano cheese and fresh herbs. Although not a new dish, I was told that I absolutely had to try it, and I’m very glad it was ordered as it was gorgeous. A relatively simple dish, it was packed with flavour, with the refreshing taste of the artichokes bursting through the crunchy cheese topping- a winner.The next two antipasti dishes were the Melanzane- eggplant slices wrapped around buffalo ricotta cheese nestled on fresh pea puree and Polpo- bruschetta with grilled octopus, potatoes and Sardinian Mullet Bottarga roe. The Melanzane was delicious and quite addictive, shame there were only three on the plate! What I loved about it was the vibrant colour of the green pea puree and the preservation of the veggie taste, same with the artichoke hearts. The seasoning throughout all the dishes was very light so that none of the flavours were obscured. The Polpo was also superb. The octopus was grilled excellently, crispy on the outside and the right kind of chewy on the inside.I couldn’t wait for the main course. My dining companion had ordered Gnocchi di Patate – fresh potato gnocchi with a Mascarpone and vanilla sauce and toasted hazelnuts to share, and the Astice al Burro- Boston lobster with endives and an artichoke butter sauce.I was quite curious about the gnocchi. I personally think gnocchi is quite a difficult dish to get right, and on so many occasions, I start eating it and then I’m full within 5 minutes as it’s so stodgy and completely smothered in a sauce too rich to balance out the carb-tasticness of the gnocchi. So, for this particular dish, I was intrigued indeed. Vanilla sauce on pasta seemed to be a bold move but was it a good one? Yes it was. I was blown away by the dish, and to be completely honest, I wished I had a whole plate to myself. The gnocchi was surprisingly light, the sauce wasn’t as rich as I anticipated and the vanilla cut through cleanly to compliment the dish. I thought the toasted hazelnuts were a great touch and somehow that added to the deliciousness of the gnocchi. Heavenly!

The Boston lobster was immense. We thought we were sharing one, but they ended up giving us one each! Not that I was complaining, but I was starting to get pretty stuffed at this point, so this was my Mount Everest to climb. An elegant, yet humble looking dish, with muted colours, (don’t be put off by the murky green artichoke butter sauce) the lobster was cooked to perfection and had a wonderful meaty chewy texture.  The endives were a great and simple compliment to the lobster which needed no extra side dishes.Almost unconscious from the food, we still had dessert to look forward to and on the cards were the Panna Cotta alled Mele Verdi- Panna cotta with green apple Granita and green apple salad and the Tiramisu.

The Panna cotta was fantastic. I’ve never had one with a green apple compliment and it was amazingly refreshing and not too sweet. The Tiramisu was also a triumph. A classic dish that can sometimes be weighed down by too much liquor, W52’s version was scrumptious and not too strong. The coffee flavour was not too overwhelming so even those of you who aren’t coffee fans can enjoy this dessert.I left W52 thoroughly impressed. I loved my lunch, the service was impeccable, and the atmosphere coolly laidback. I will definitely be back for more of the gnocchi and to attack the lunch buffet one day.

Chopstixfix rating: 4.5/5

W52, 52 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong. Tel: +852 6768 5252

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(Many thanks to W52 for some of their very professional photos! 🙂 )


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Do you do the Tango?

I like a big slab of beef now and again, so it’s great that new Argentinian Steakhouse, Tango, has opened its doors on Wyndham Street.

Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse (Admiralty) or Morton’s Steakhouse at the Sheraton Hotel (Kowloon) are often lauded as being the best steaks in town, but if they are a bit pricey for you, then Tango could be the place for your next red meat fix.

Boasting a lovely Parilla fireplace, the interior in Tango has been designed to inspire a homely, rustic feel with a plethora of dark-wood and exposed brick. At night, the light is dimmed to create an intimate atmosphere, the expanse of windows give customers a fun view of the passersby below and your eyes are drawn to the fireplace where plump cuts of La Pampa beef are grilled.

I went for my birthday, and as we had a group of 10, we were offered the Tango Function Package, which included appetizers, sides and desserts to share, with a choice of main for $468 per person excluding service charge.

There was a good selection of starters, with Yellowfin Tuna and Watermelon Ceviche, hand cut Beef Sirloin Empanadas, Chorizo sausage served with chimichurri, hearts of palm salad with tomato, avocado and basil and a platter of Tango’s cured meats. The traditional Argentinian beef sirloin empanadas went down a treat; savoury pasties stuffed with beef, basil, olives and sweetcorn were wolfed down quickly and left us wanting more. The salad was a good compliment to the meat heavy appetisers and the cured meat platter was also a winner.For mains, we had a choice between a 12oz sirloin steak, lamb chump steak and seafood spaghetti. Most of us opted for the sirloin steak (of course) but the two who chose the spaghetti were unfortunately disappointed, saying it lacked flavour and flair. The cuts of prime sirloin were huge. The frankly gigantic portions plonked on our plates meant that even the guys were left struggling to ingest all 12oz of protein. However, the 6 salsas served with the steak, (Criolla, Chimichurri, spicy tomato, Dijon mustard, grained mustard and horseradish), evened out the meat sweats most of us suffered afterwards! My steak was a well prepared medium, juicy and plump on the inside, with a good, even searing on both sides.The side dishes- French fries, sautéed mushrooms and peppers were average. The fries were a little overdone but that didn’t stop my fingers reaching into the bowl every few minutes.

Three desserts were brought out- Helado’s icecream, Churros con Chocolate and the absolutely amazing Leche Flan which doubled up as my birthday cake. Leche Flan is a crème caramel served with Dulce de Leche, a caramel-like milk based sauce made from sweetened condensed milk. A heart attack on a plate, but way too good to resist! The waiter cheekily brought out a massive jar of Dulce de Leche which they sell at Tango and tried to tempt us (after hearing all the gastronomic groans of delight emanating from us girls in particular), but we were strong. Instead of buying a jar….we demanded two extra bowls of the stuff to eat on its own. Disgusting I know.Tango has a vast selection of Argentinian, Spanish and Italian wines for all wine lovers to choose from. We were certainly pleased with our choice (don’t quite recall what we ordered, I believe it was a Spanish red) but we were happy.

Argentinian chef, Ignacio Elizondo has whipped up a variety of lamb, chicken and fish dishes as well as preparing all cuts of La Pampa beef. If I were you, I’d stay away from the seafood and go for the meat. After all, it is a steakhouse.

Chopstixfix rating: 3.5/5

Tango Argentinian steakhouse, 1/F, 77 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong Tel: 2525 5808

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You can also see this review on Sassy Hong Kong


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Hakka ‘K ‘K

Those familiar with Hakka cuisine will know that most of the dishes are meat, salt and grease heavy- a fab combination if you want to clog up your arteries. That said, some of the famous dishes are deliciously addictive when done well, especially the sliced belly pork with mustard greens and the salt baked chicken.

I’d been hearing, “Hakka Ye Ye this.. Hakka Ye Ye that…” for a while, so when I finally got round to going, my curiosity was piqued. I didn’t even realise it was on Wyndham Street..all that time spent walking past the building towards drinks and I hadn’t noticed. But then again, how many people walk around looking at what interesting shops/restaurants exist on higher floors? We should do it more often, heaven knows how many exciting establishments are waiting to be discovered! On second thoughts, HK’ers strolling in the streets with their heads perpetually tilted upwards would be a gazillion accidents waiting to happen.

I digress.. first impressions of Hakka Ye Ye- cosy and compact restaurant. Not so cosy when you feel the full force of the air-con though.As there were only two of us eating, we tried not to go crazy on the ordering. But, wanting to try a variety of dishes, we selected the crispy pork nuggets and salt & pepper deep fried squid to start. For mains we ordered the belly pork with preserved vegetables, the steamed egg (with salt egg and preserved egg) with minced pork and the Ye Ye fried white, red and brown rice with Chinese bacon cubes and vegetables.

The salt and pepper squid was average and not any better than any other Cantonese dai pai dong that serves this dish.JL commented that the crispy pork nuggets were, “a nicer version of McDonald’s nuggets”!The braised belly pork was standard, nothing to rave about but a good introduction to the dish if you haven’t had it before. Not that I recommend you eat the fat, but in this case, the belly pork wasn’t very fat or succulent and the preserved vegetables were over stewed.The only notable dish was the steamed egg. Beautifully smooth with gorgeous mouthfuls of salt egg yolk.Both of us were floored by the huge bowl of Ye Ye fried rice but it went well with all our dishes.

If you’re stumped for dinner ideas, then give Hakka Ye Ye a go. But honestly, I’m stuck for flattering adjectives and all I can say is.. it’s OK. 

Chopstixfix rating: 3/5                          

Hakka Ye Ye, 2/F Parekh House, 63 Wyndham Street, Central. Tel: 2537 7060 www.yeyegroup.com

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