The trendy area of Sai Ying Pun continues to grow as a foodie destination. Unlike every other saturated area of the city, however, what I like about Sai Ying Pun is how most restaurants in this area remain true to its neighbourhood feel; few belong to huge groups and are often run by independent operators. Cute new restaurant GLOW on Second Street is the perfect example.
GLOW, which stands for Grill Lounge Ocean Wine, is owned by brothers Keith and Vincent Ng, together with a third business partner. It is their first venture into the food and beverage industry, which Vincent explains by telling me “we are very adventurous.” The lovely guys are obviously very passionate about what they’re doing, so, despite their lack of experience, they seem to have started on the right foot, given that the place is busy every night.
GLOW is a sweet little restaurant that definitely gives off an inviting charm from the exterior. Inside, light wood, faux-vintage mirrors and cosy booth seating take up most of the space, whilst along the bar, stools are set up for diners to gaze longingly at the fresh oysters, lobster, crab and clams.
Although the menu isn’t huge, it offers quite a wide range of options that make it difficult to pin down what its speciality cuisine type is. Amongst the dishes on offer, there are hints of French, Spanish, Italian and Australian dishes, besides the grilled meat and seafood.
We began with the scallop sashimi with cauliflower purée. If I’m not mistaken, sashimi implies thinly sliced, raw seafood. These scallops were neither sliced nor raw, but served whole and lightly pan-fried. Despite therefore being completely different to what we were expecting, they were nevertheless beautifully cooked, with a light, bouncy texture and a delicate smoky flavour. The crunchy tempura bits and creamy cauliflower purée were a pleasant contrast too.
The Manila clams in GLOW’s special tomato sauce were a little on the bland side. They had the occasional chilli and garlic kick, as well as three pieces of chorizo to enhance the flavour, but unfortunately these flavours did not linger long. Perhaps we could have asked, but a few more pieces of crunchy garlic bread would have been welcomed to mop up the sauce.
Feeling greedy, we also tried a third starter between us – GLOW’s signature seafood soup. With generous servings of lobster, salmon, squid, mussels and clams, the soup itself had a lovely, hearty flavour, ideal for these cooler climes. In some cases, however, the seafood unfortunately hadn’t absorbed the flavours and, alone, was also a little on the bland side.
Moving on to mains, the 60-degree slow-cooked salmon fillet with herb leaf salad was a very simple yet lovely dish, made the more so by the beautiful texture of the fish.
The braised Australian grain-fed beef cheek also had a wonderful, super-tender texture and, with it’s rich flavour, would be the perfect comfort food for winter. The only downside was that the vegetables were a little too crunchy for this dish. Don’t get me wrong, I’d rather crunchy veg than over-cooked, mushy veg, but here it seemed a bit of an afterthought as opposed to an accompaniment.
For dessert, given I’m not always a fan, the panna cotta with moscato caviar and berry sauce was surprisingly delicious, particularly the tart berry sauce, sweetened ever so slightly with a red wine reduction.
GLOW’s tiramisu was also rather special. Unlike the classic dessert, GLOW’s was a deconstructed version, made with chocolate crumble, coffee liqueur-coated ciabatta, coffee jelly, chocolate crisps and mascarpone. The differing textures and intense flavours worked well together, making this easily our favourite dish of the night.
Service was excellent, to the point of almost being a little too good, but I guess that’s almost unavoidable in such a small restaurant. Prices linger around the $100 mark for starters and $200 mark for main courses. Although there isn’t really a defining cuisine at GLOW and the food isn’t necessarily out of this world, it’s a cute little spot with passionate staff that will hopefully continue to fill its seats every night.
Shop C, G/F, Tung Cheung Building
1 Second Street
Sai Ying Pun
Tel: +852 3460 5226