The pig has always been one of my favourite animals, mainly when it’s served on a plate in any of its delicious forms. I wouldn’t say I disliked se sa me, but when I heard it had closed and would be replaced by a restaurant specialising in PIG, do you think I was upset? Most definitely not. In fact, quite the opposite: when I heard about The Salted Pig’s imminent opening, I was like a child (or myself) on Christmas Eve, excitedly calculating just how much pig I could physically eat.
The Salted Pig is brought to us by the team behind highly successful Shore Restaurant and Bar, complete with its wonderful chef Jason Black; so he’s not only a specialist in cow, but pig too…it makes me wonder how exciting he could make chicken…
The space is entirely transformed from its se sa me days; it is a casual, down to earth eatery with bare wooden tables, simple wooden chairs and creative hanging lights. Above a row of tables in the centre of the room, all sorts of knick-knacks, pots and pans hang precariously.
The menu reflects the décor; there is not an air of fancy fine dining where you’re paying top dollar for a measly crumb that happens to be beautifully presented. Instead, the majority of the dishes are for sharing, family style, and are certainly hearty portions.
Our ‘oink-fest’, as Chef Jason likes to call it, began with a Pre-appetizer charcuterie platter, consisting of five kinds of cold cuts, pork terrine, pork rillettes, scotch eggs and piccalilli. I was particularly impressed by the quality of the cold cuts, the smoothness of the rillettes and the sheer perfection of the homemade scotch eggs.
To follow came a dish of gorgeous bacon-wrapped scallops with broad bean, pea and mint ‘mash’, with cider dressing. The scallops were only lightly seared, giving them the most perfect, firm yet never rubbery texture. Whilst I loved how the scallop and the bacon went together, my only suggestion is that the bacon could perhaps have been just a touch crispier, to add a deeper contrast in texture to the buttery scallop and creamy ‘mash’.
A green bean, broad bean and sweet pea salad with baby lettuce hearts, feta and warm bacon dressing came next. This was summer in a bowl. The sharp crunch of the lettuce and radicchio paired perfectly with the creamy feta, sweet veggies and salty bacon.
Moving on to the mains, we shared three between the four of us, as two are designed as sharing plates. The “Rub n Tickle” belly, having been cooked sous-vide, was packed full of flavour and incredibly juicy. Obviously it was a fatty piece of meat, but that’s what pork belly is all about, especially when the pork and fat are beautifully cooked so that they both melt into one. This came served with a lovely potato and egg salad, coleslaw, and amazingly crunchy crackling, alongside an adorable cute mini Le Creuset pot of special sauce.
From the accurately named ‘Porker Feast’ section of the menu, we shared The Rack, an incredible mouth-wateringly tasty and succulently tender slow cooked pork loin rack. Served alongside roasted carrots, onions and fennel, with a jug of creamy mustard sauce, this was indeed a feast on its own.
A sage and mustard-crusted pork loin steak with white mushroom and marsala cream sauce was incredible: faultlessly juicy with a lovely flavoursome crust. I particularly loved the fact that it was served with roasted Granny Smith apples, which added a tartness to complement the sweetness of the sauce and the saltiness of the pork.
Although we didn’t really need sides, we tried the classic mac ‘n cheese (the ultimate comfort food), the pancetta braised creamy Brussels sprouts (would definitely add magic to any Christmas meal), and, just to be healthy, the cherry tomato salad with basil (wonderfully refreshing and light).
After all this, we tried not one, not two, but all five desserts from the blackboard menu: Chocolate and citrus tart, Pistachio and white chocolate mousse, Raspberry marshmallow with rhubarb compote, Banana and fudge Eton mess, and Carrot cake. I would imagine it would be too much to ask to suggest you save space for all five, but I strongly recommend at least saving space for the latter three, and particularly the incredible carrot cake, made with olive oil and topped with a carrot crisp; I think it actually rivals my own carrot cake…
Prices for this ‘oink-fest’ will surprise you. In a good way. For an abundant three-course meal with wine (served by the carafe), you won’t be paying much more than $350-$400 a head. The Salted Pig is not only doing something completely different to anywhere else in Hong Kong, but it is doing it well, with excellent service, for very reasonable prices. I’m very excited about how close it is to my office…but it does make me slightly fear for my waistline!
The Salted Pig
2/F, The L Place
139 Queen’s Road Central
Tel: +852 2870 2323
P.S. since writing the original review, I have already been back for lunch (can you tell I loved it?) and wowee what a lunch. Go for the ‘Porker Set Lunch’ and definitely get the shredded pork knuckle sandwich – it’s seriously worth the food coma it will send you into afterwards…
Do you know what makes The Salted Pig even better? They have kindly offered a 10% DISCOUNT to all my loyal readers – simply mention The Dim Sum Diaries when you ask for your bill and you’ll get 10% off until 31st October 2012. Enjoy your oink-fest, you porker!