In an effort to explore more local neighbourhoods, I recently found myself having dinner at four restaurants in one night. How else am I supposed to try as many restaurants as possible when I’m only allowed three meals a day?!
With no real plan in mind other than to just go exploring, my stomach took us on an adventure in the ‘West Side’, around the streets of up and coming Sai Ying Pun.
Our first port of call was a British pub on Queen’s Road West. Where local restaurants and shops selling dried fish (and other unidentified objects) abound, a British pub is the last thing you’d expect to find. But find it we did, and although there were one too many stereotypical (or perhaps even verging on tacky) decorations, Derby West definitely can be classified as a good old British pub. All that’s missing is the smell of stale beer and cigarettes, and possibly a slot machine too.
Although the curry smelt delicious, we didn’t want to fill up on our first stop, so we opted instead for a plate of Indian vegetable samosas, as, in the words of a wise man, “you can’t get more British than that!” Sadly the samosas weren’t the best I’ve ever had; they didn’t stand up on their own for starters. However, it was pub snacks we wanted and it was pub snacks we got; we weren’t expecting gourmet food.
I wouldn’t say I’d trek all that way to visit Derby West again, but if I find myself in the area, I certainly might be tempted to see if the curry is as delicious as it smelt. And with beer and wine around the $40 mark, I can see why this is popular with HKU students, even if, unlike a real British pub, they do add an unnecessary 10% service charge.
G/F, 389-391 Queen’s Road West, Sai Ying Pun 2698 1616
A little wander up the road onto Third Street took us to BBQ, a random little place that I had heard a lot of good things about. To look at, it isn’t particularly appealing: bright lights, basic tables and chairs, no fancy décor. It does however serve up some pretty decent grilled seafood and robatayaki-style skewers.
The garlic scallops were slow in coming but tasted delicious, provided you’re a fan of a LOT of garlic. (I probably wouldn’t recommend having these on a first date.) At $108 per piece, you’d expect the king prawns to be good and thankfully they were: perfectly tender with a generous amount of flesh to sink your teeth into. While the sirloin steak skewer wasn’t hugely impressive, perhaps the best dish of the lot was the spicy pork, chopped up into strips and sprinkled in shichimi, making it irresistibly moreish.
129-133 Third Street, Sai Ying Pun 2548 9880
I noticed this place on a recent visit to Fuku Robatayaki & Kaki, so as we were in the area, I couldn’t resist checking it out.
Its décor of yellow walls with exposed brick panels is inviting, as it reminded me of some of the casual neighbourhood restaurants I visited in Italy. When we had a chat with Chef Memo himself, he told us that this is exactly what he had hoped to create: a neighbourhood restaurant that Sai Ying Pun-based families could come to again and again.
Enticed by the leg of jamon Serrano and feeling the weight of BBQ’s skewers in our tummies, we decided to share a squid and jamon salad. These may not sound like ingredients you would normally put together, but I promise you that this salad was utterly delicious. The soft, buttery squid had not the smallest hint of chewiness and went perfectly with the seriously high quality cured ham. The caramelised onions, fennel bulbs and salad leaves were just a bonus.
We also shared an amazing chorizo pizza. With a wafer thin crust and stringy fresh mozzarella cheese, this was one of the finest pizzas I’ve tasted in Hong Kong. It’s not the cheapest, at about $140, but it’s definitely a generous size, perfect for sharing.
I’ll most certainly be returning to taste more of Memo’s menu. I was particularly interested in the slow-cooked lamb shank for four people; all that remained on a neighbouring table was a very clean giant bone, suggesting it was seriously delicious.
G/F, 62 High Street, Sai Ying Pun 2858 8173
Yes I know, it’s not in Sai Ying Pun, but in order to burn off our three mini-meals, we walked and walked until we found ourselves having dessert at Blue Butcher.
You know how I feel about the chocolate bread and butter pudding from when I reviewed Blue Butcher last year (read the review here). Needless to say that is exactly what we had, along with a glass of Sauternes to wash it down.
108 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan 2613 9286
I discovered on this mini food crawl that this may be one of the best ways to experience restaurants. Not only do you get to taste more than the standard one place in one evening, but also, as you’re walking from place to place, chances are you’re burning off at least a few calories – perhaps a mouthful or two if you’re lucky. And do you know what that means? That you can eat more at the next place! Perhaps I’ll spend all my Friday nights eating at four restaurants whilst burning calories…
Other tasty restaurants in Sai Ying Pun:
Ba Yi – G/F, 43 Water Street, Sai Ying Pun 2484 9981
Fuku Robatayaki & Kaki – 69 High Street, Sai Ying Pun 2540 9961
Grassroots Pantry – 12 Fuk Sau Lane, Sai Ying Pun 2873 3353
Hung Hing – 22-32 Pok Fu Lam Road, Sai Ying Pun 2858 2512
Kwan Kee – Shop 1, Wo Yick Mansion, 263 Queen’s Road West, Sai Ying Pun 2803 7209
Light – 1 Second Street, Sai Ying Pun 2559 9098
Pata Negra House – G/F, 1 Second Street, Sai Ying Pun 2527 5181
Taco Chaca – 1 Second Street, Sai Ying Pun 2525 2066
As well as many others of course – just go exploring!