Hong Kong is a city with such a fascinating history, yet it’s a sad reality that so many historical buildings have been knocked down to make room for monstrously tall skyscrapers. Thankfully, someone has recently seen sense, and it’s great to see that both the Police Married Quarters (PMQ) and the Central Police Station (CPS) have been restored to become hot spots for shopping and dining.
PMQ is rapidly growing as a foodie destination. The latest openings include exciting new restaurants Isono and Vasco, helmed by famed Spanish chef Paolo Casagrande from two-Michelin-starred Restaurante Lasarte in Barcelona. Both restaurants serve Basque cuisine, but whilst Vasco is the more fine dining of the two, Isono, just downstairs, has a more casual feel and the menu – which features influences from Spanish, French and Italian cuisine – is designed for sharing.
Despite being considered the less formal of the two, Isono’s décor is still very impressive. From tremendously high ceilings hang exposed light bulbs, whilst brown leather seats, metal structures and a striking round marble-topped bar give the whole place a rustic yet elegant charm.
We were recommended to start with Isono’s Pata Negra Platter, to which I did not object. Generous portions of 60-month Iberico ham, lomito and salami each had their own unique and somewhat intense flavour that made it easy to finish off this pretty sizeable platter between the two of us.
The salted cod croquettes were also excellent. Crispy on the outside, whilst soft and gooey on the inside, these were beautiful on their own and even better with a slathering of delicious alioli.
Rather than being laced with that familiar and pungent mustardy flavour, Isono’s beef tartare, topped with an organic egg yolk, is instead served with truffle mayonnaise. The beef had the perfect texture, without being too finely chopped and I was thankful for the side serving of more truffle mayo, as personally I didn’t think it had enough to begin with.
The chargrilled Spanish red prawns were beautifully cooked and very simply presented with a drizzle of parsley pesto. The prawns themselves carried their own delicious flavour, enhanced by a hint of charcoal and the freshness of the pesto. This, for me, was a truly stellar dish that clearly showed the quality of the ingredients at play.
We were also very impressed by the roasted Iberian pork shoulder served with homemade BBQ sauce. Cooked in Isono’s special charcoal oven, the pork was incredibly tender and also infused with that delicious hint of charcoal.
Having heard endless praise about Isono’s paellas, we simply had to try the meat paella, with pork ribs, guanciale, chicken and artichoke. The rice itself had the perfect texture and was packed full of flavour, having soaked up all the juices from the delicious and tender meat. My only complaint is that there could perhaps have been a few more morsels of meat, or at least a second rib, since one alone was quite difficult to share.
Our side dish of chargrilled baby corn also deserves a special mention here. Cooked very simply yet perfectly, this dish reminded me why baby corn has always been one of my top three veggies.
Having tried tiramisu in many restaurants, we are fairly well versed as to what makes a good one. Isono’s Marsala tiramisu with chocolate crumble, we decided, is quite easily one of the best tiramisus in Hong Kong. It had just the right balance of bitterness, sweetness and creaminess, whilst the slightly salty chocolate crumble brought everything together.
My favourite of the two desserts, however, was the Catalan cream foam with toffee ice cream and pineapple. This fun take on a traditional Crema Catalana was at once refreshing and comforting, nicely tying up a delicious meal.
Prices at Isono reflect both the quality of the ingredients and skill of the chef, whilst still remaining affordable. The menu allows for flexibility, as you can choose the size of each dish depending on how many are sharing. Regular sized starters are between $110 and $220, whilst mains range from $200 to $400 for the regular size. When everything on the menu looks (and tastes) delicious, however, it’s easy to see how your bill can start stacking up. Isono is definitely a fun, tasty dining experience that I have already recommended to friends looking for somewhere new and exciting. If the food here is anything to go by, then I can’t wait to put Vasco to the test!
Isono Bar & Eatery
6/F, Block B, PMQ
35 Aberdeen Street
Tel: +852 2156 0688