Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Second Draft (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★☆☆

After not setting foot in Tai Hang for almost the entire 2016, I was hoping to make it two in a roll following a pretty successful outing at Warren last week. This time around, my destination is Second Draft, a neighborhood gastropub just recently opened on the ground floor of a modern condo building in Tai Hang and I have recruited my buddy V as my partner in crime for this one.

I told myself I already had enough of East-meets-West cuisine this year but Second Draft was a little difficult to pass up because it's the brainchild of two of the rising stars in the local culinary scene - May Chow of Little Bao fame and James Ling from The Ale Project. 

Just about everybody in the city (including myself) is very much into the good old Hong Kong theme these days so unsurprisingly, Second Draft also went with this approach of a crossover between a colonial style beer pub and local cha chaan teng.

I must admit, I like this decor a lot. The nostalgic vibe has added something a little extra for the overall dining experience.

This is my first taste of the locally brewed "Young Master" craft beer (少爺麥啤) and I have to say, I'm pretty amazed with the wide variety of flavors they have to offer. V and I had a long discussion on which one to pick and these ones all came across our mind.

  • In The Mood for Spring / 花釀年華
    • Flavor: Earthy
    • What's special about it: Jasmine, Chrysanthemum and Osmanthus 
  • Mo’ Mo’ Wit / 夏日麼麼啤
    • Flavor: Spicy
    • What's special about it: Chen Pei (陳皮), Housemade 5 spice blend
  • Fussy Peachkin Man
    • Flavor: Fruity
    • What's special about it: Pumpkins, Peaches, 5 spices, Condensed Milk

But soon I realized that I wasn't really all that adventurous when it comes to beer so I ended up taking one of their most popular one which is the Young Master Classic.

Second Draft's food menu mainly focuses on East-meets-west dishes that are meant to be shared but before we got into that, we decided to kick things off with some snacks first. 

Inked croquettes with squid ink and dried oysters ($28/pc) was their modern take on the Spanish croquettes but with a local twist.

It was finished with a chimichurri sauce on top. Pretty nice.

Next up was Mapo Burrata ($138), a dish that was often seen on magazines and social media whenever they talked about this gastropub.

I was mighty impressed with the burrata that was soft, rich and buttery at the same time. But I had no idea how well it would work with pork "mapo" ragout until I had the very first bite. That was almost like a marriage made in heaven. The only knock was the slightly over-seasoned pork ragout which was tasty but a bit too spicy.

Unfortunately, our main dishes didn't follow up strong like the appetizers. I like the Chinese spin on the braised octopus and pork belly ($148) with the nam-yu sauce (南乳醬) and pickled garlic but the combination of flavors fell a little short of our expectation.

Flower crab pasta ($198) was supposed to be the highlight of the night. The gastropub's own version of carbonara was inspired by the Shanghainese imitation crab (賽螃蟹), featuring flower crab meat, egg white, egg yolk, thick Shanghainese noodles and a creamy butter sauce.

Like the actual Shanghainese imitation crab dish, a raw egg yolk was placed on top and we were instructed to mix everything together well, including the special black vinegar that was provided on the side.

I thought the acidity from the black vinegar was a fine touch to the dish, contrasting well with the rich and creamy pasta but there's just not enough flower crab meat in there to make it fully work (Not enough texture in the mix).

There were no desserts available on the menu except for chocolate, vanilla and milk-tea ice-creams which we gladly declined. So we quickly settled the bill and took a short walk to Fortress Hill for our favorite Chinese desserts.

It was another fine East-meets-West experience but this theme (Fish School, Kasa, The Drunken Pot, Sohofama just to name a few here) is beginning to get a little overused (and boring) these days. Like I said during the start of this post, I think I had enough of this by now. It's time to start another trend.

Food Rating: 5.5/10
Price: $$$$
Address: G/F, Little Tai Hang, 98 Tung Lo Wan Rd, Causeway Bay, Tai Hang, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Tin Hau
Tel: +852 2656-0232

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