Given the pace at which restaurants open and close in this city, not many Soho restaurants can say they’ve stood strong for over a decade. Dining Concepts’ Olive, however, can proudly say that it is well into its 11th year of satisfying diners with its authentic Greek and Middle Eastern menu designed by renowned Australian chef Greg Malouf.
As part of Olive’s 10-year celebrations, it launched a special tagine menu, offered on Tuesday and Thursday nights only. The restaurant also underwent a bit of a facelift, removing the dark, silk drapes from the ceiling and presenting a more modern, fresh look.
We started our evening with Olive’s mezze platter, consisting of some of the best hummus and babaganoush I have tasted in Hong Kong, house-made pita bread, fresh from the oven, olives and pickles, as well as “Fatima’s fingers” – basically filo-wrapped feta cheese. You could certainly taste the authenticity in every bite and I could have devoured this whole platter on my own.
Since it was a Tuesday evening, and thus one of Olive’s Tagine Nights, we were there with the sole purpose of gorging on tagine, so we sampled three…between three of us! I love a good tagine, one that’s been slowly cooking for hours, ready to blow your mind with the intense spices and aromas. When I recently made a mussel tagine, I realised that seafood, in my opinion, isn’t necessarily the best protein for this dish, the reason being that you can’t leave the seafood in the broth for hours, as it cooks too quickly. Olive’s seafood tagine, filled to the brim with roasted barramundi, crab, mussels, salmon and vegetables, had a delicious flavour, yet the seafood itself, having had to be added at the last minute, wasn’t infused with these flavours and was a little bland on its own.
The lamb kofta tagine, prepared with chickpeas, eggs and silky aubergine in a rich tomato base, was satisfyingly hearty and warming for a chilly December evening. Lamb is one of my favourite proteins for a tagine, as it carries the spices beautifully whilst still maintaining its own unique flavour.
Surprisingly, my absolute favourite of the three tagines we tried was the classic Moroccan wild mushroom tagine. Made with several different types of mushroom piled onto a mound of couscous, topped with caramelised onions, this had a wonderfully sweet and rich flavour that kept me going back for more.
Moving onto dessert, we were recommended to try the Middle Eastern tiramisu, which we were told was far stronger than its Italian counterpart, since it is made with Arabic coffee. It was still as light and fluffy as a tiramisu should be, but perhaps a little too strong for my liking.
It would be rude not to finish a Middle Eastern feast with some traditional Lebanese baklava, and of course we didn’t want to be rude! Olive’s baklava were just as sweet and tasty as they should be and were a lovely end to the night.
Since all dishes are designed for sharing at Olive, the menu is actually pretty reasonably priced; the tagines start at $178 and are definitely big enough portions for sharing, particularly if you start with some tasty mezze. I can understand why Olive has been around for so long and can imagine that it will stick around a good while longer.
32 Elgin Street
Tel: +852 2521 1608