Mexican is the flavour of the moment across Hong Kong. After complaints that there were no good tacos in the city, taco shops popped up everywhere, adding to the throng of pretty average Tex-Mex restaurants. When word got out that new kid on the block Brickhouse would be opening as yet another Mexican resto, I was excited, but I can’t say I expected grand things. Boy, was I wrong.
As we know already from many of Hong Kong’s hidden gems, some of the best places are tucked away behind the scenes. Such is the case with Brickhouse; you’ll only find it if you’re looking for it, as it’s hidden away down a random-looking side alley as you approach Lan Kwai Fong, There is no signage on or around the restaurant as the idea is to keep it cosy, exclusive and hidden. I like this idea, except the hidden part in practice doesn’t seem to be working: it’s been open for three weeks and it’s heaving every single night!
Brickhouse has a no reservations policy. Imagine the thrill and excitement that Yardbird has, a year after opening, double it, and that is what I’m expecting Brickhouse will be like, with queues all the way down the alleyway to get a table. Luckily it’s open until 2am on a weeknight, and 5am on a weekend, so I’m very excited about the idea of a midnight (taco) feast.
I love the vibe at Brickhouse; as soon as I walked in, I was wowed by the eclectic décor consisting of graffiti-esque paintings by local artists, stickers dotted willy nilly all over the place, a very rustic floor, and obviously red brick wall panels. The quirky design makes the place look unfinished, yet in a really hip and funky kind of way. Music is blasted out at a tolerable volume making you instantly want to sing along and dance, and it looks as though even the staff are having fun; with so many miserable, moody waiters across the city, seeing staff who actually love what they are doing is really refreshing.
The menu is rather eclectic too. The choice is vast, yet portions are small, meaning you are able to choose a handful of dishes to share, which is my absolute favourite way of eating. While you’re thinking of what to order, definitely try one of Brickhouse’s exciting cocktails, my favourite being the Diabla, consisting of jalapeño vodka, raspberries, pomegranate and lemon: fruity and sharp with a subtle chilli kick.
Our feast began with a Watermelon salad. As I’ve mentioned plenty of times, I am not a salad fiend. However, this salad, made with cubes of the freshest watermelon, strips of cucumber, goat’s feta, clusters of candied pumpkin seeds and chilli syrup was absolutely incredible, with the flavours and textures working perfectly together.
The Mexican street corn is a must. The sweet, juicy corn on the cob is first smothered in chilli mayo with lime, then sprinkled generously with grated cheese and coriander to give it a little something special without losing the taste of the corn itself. We both polished off our share without a word.
Beetroot is still one of those things that I’ll eat if it’s put in front of me as I know it’s good for me, but if there were other vegetables, I’d probably choose those. The homemade beet fries, however, are something special. First roasted, then deep fried in a very light tempura batter, and finally dipped in the accompanying sweet chilli mayo, these were delicious and more-ish, yet almost 100% guilt-free.
There are two options of Tostadas, of which, of course, we tried both. While the braised octopus had a great flavour, it was a little on the chewy side. The yellowfin tuna tostada, however, with chipotle mayo and habanero mustard, was delicious melt-in-the-mouth goodness on top, with perfect crunchtastic toasted tortilla below.
A note about the tortillas: these corn tortillas are made fresh in-house every day, something somewhat novel amongst Hong Kong’s Mexican eateries. The taco choices are listed on a blackboard and change regularly. Our choices, of which again we tried all five, were chicken, pulled pork, market fish, rib eye with crispy manchego, and venison. All had their own interesting flavours, but the absolute shining star of the lot was the rib eye with crispy manchego, grilled tomato salsa and coriander. The meat was beautifully tender, the dressings utterly divine. Although it sounds delicious, our suggestion is that you skip the venison and get two of the rib eyes instead.
Of the three Ceviche options, we tried the Back to Life (a blend of shrimp, grilled tomato, smoked chilli, horseradish and citrus dressing) and the Peruvian (yellowtail tuna, apple, daikon relish, orange, avocado and yuzu-lime dressing). The former was a little too strongly-flavoured for my palate, but I adored the delicate flavours and super tender textures of the Peruvian ceviche.
From the main courses, we tried the Chilli relleno, a poblano pepper stuffed with quinoa, butternut squash and manchego cheese, served in a rich tomato broth. If I were a vegetarian, I would be more than satisfied with this wholesome, comforting dish.
The beef shortrib was beautifully tender and sweet, cooked in a brown sugar reduction, served with creamy mashed potato and baby corn done in the same way as the street corn.
After this incredible feast, it would have been rude not to try dessert – so of course we tried two. The first consisted of fresh yoghurt blended with goat’s cheese, layers of buttery dulce de leche and raspberries, topped with a bar of chocolate-covered peanut butter. I suggested these incredible chocolate bars should be sold in gift boxes, to which the response was: “so I can buy them as a gift for myself?!”
The chilli chocolate cake, although I couldn’t detect even the tiniest hint of chilli, was most definitely the best chocolate fondant I have had in Hong Kong and simply oozed molten chocolate goodness at the touch of a fork.
After only one trip to Brickhouse, I think it has already become one of my favourite places in this restaurant-filled city. Everything about it from the super upbeat vibe, to the friendly waiters, dangerously tasty cocktails, delicious food (at relatively reasonable prices – the average food bill will come to $300 per person, without drinks) and the fact that no service charge is added to the bill leaves no doubt in my mind that it will be a roaring success…if it isn’t already.
G/F 20A D’Aguilar Street
Lan Kwai Fong
Tel: +852 2810 0560
Why not have a read of my mini-review of Brickhouse on Localiiz too? You might find some other exciting restaurants on there!