Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Fat Pig by Tom Aikens (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★☆☆

As a fan of Tom Aikens's modern British cuisine, I have been staying on top of all the news regarding the famed chef's second project in Hong Kong, The Fat Pig, ever since he twitted about it a few months ago. After keeping a close eye on its preliminary opening date via the social network, I finally got confirmation that it's ready for its soft opening early this week. 

As expected, this is going to be a "nose-to-tail" concept featuring a pork centric food menu that will do Chef Fergus Henderson (founder of St John Restaurant in London) proud.

While none of the porky dishes (think pig's head cake, deep fried pig's tail etc.) did surprise me at all, what caught me a little off guard was the Asian (or Chinese) inspiration in some of these items such as their barbecued pork buns ($10), which were freshly made right at this counter. 

This is seriously good! I thought even better than those from a lot of the Chinese restaurants.

Deep fried pig's ears, green caper sauce ($55) - This tasted a lot like calamari fritti. Very crispy with pretty good bite. The green caper sauce provided some nice acidity to the mix. 

Pig's head cake with watercress salsa verde ($68) - Never imagine that I would be taking a bite out of the pig's head but hey, this looked more like a piece of crab cake to me.

It tasted nothing like pig's head (not that I know how pig's head tastes in the first place)! But this is quite tasty. The watercress salsa did a good job neutralizing the richness of the fillings.

But from this point on, everything was disappointingly trending downward.

Pot-roasted pork belly, garlic, dried longan fruit ($68) - They have a few versions of pork's belly here. First up was this pot-roasted pork belly on top of steamed rice, some shredded cabbage and longan fruit. I like the Asian twist there but unfortunately, the execution was not really up to par. 

Roast pork belly, wholegrain mustard mash, sage and apple glaze ($88) - More successful was this version of the pork belly, roasted with sage and apple cider (I could be wrong but there seemed to be a bit of alcohol in there.). Slightly crispy outside and tender inside. Didn't like the wholegrain mustard mash though, so it's a mixed bag with this one.

Steamed pork shoulder, cabbage ($75) - Didn't expect it to be soupy like this. The pork shoulder was a little bit chewy. Definitely not my favorite dish of the night.

Cumberland pork sausage, mash and onion gravy ($63) - What would a British dinner be without some homemade sausage right? Despite its not-so-appealing presentation, I thought the sausage was real soft and tender. 

Again more mash!? 

Choy sum salad with bean sprouts and peanuts ($40) - It's almost impossible to find a dish on the menu that does not have pork in it, perhaps except this salad with choy sum, bean sprouts and peanuts. Another Chinese inspired dish and a very good one to offset the oiliness of all the previous porky dishes.

I was joking with our young waitress and asked if they have "pork oil pudding" (豬油糕) for dessert. She laughed and said no but they've got other traditional Chinese stuff like black sesame soup (芝麻糊) and coconut tapioca (椰汁西米露). I thought she was just joking too but evidently not. 

But why would I want Chinese desserts at a modern British restaurant anyways? So, I went with this combination - lemon, yuzu cheesecake ($58) on the left and spiced brulee shortbread ($38) on the right. After trying these sweet treats first hand, my recommendation is to simply skip dessert for good. It's not worth wasting space in your stomach. Trust me on this one!

Yes, they've got the chops. Come and check this place out for yourself.

Though I wasn't expecting a fine dining restaurant here, I reckon it's going to be something like The Salted Pig. But they threw us a curveball with this trendy bar concept that serves tapas-style porky dishes (Yes, everything was small.). So folks, realign your expectations!

Food Rating: 5/10
Price: $$$
Address: Shop 1105, 11/F Times Square, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Causeway Bay
Tel: +852 2577-3444

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