Anyone who’s been to Bali will be familiar with the ever-popular beach club, Potato Head. When I heard it was opening in Hong Kong, I fully expected it to be somewhere on the south side, in order to replicate that Balinese beach vibe. It has, however, opened on Sai Ying Pun’s Third Street, high up above any beach.
Stepping inside this 8,000 square foot space definitely doesn’t feel like you’re in Sai Ying Pun. The venue is home to a number of different concepts, including Kaum, the group’s first branch of its unique Indonesian restaurant.
Kaum, which means “tribe” in Indonesian, brings together traditional cooking methods from Indonesia’s 18,000 islands, some of which can now only be found within a handful of indigenous tribes. Kaum’s owners and chefs collaborated and built relationships with the people from the tribes in order to learn more about them and create a truly authentic dining experience.
Diners can choose to sit at the bar in front of the open kitchen, or on two long communal wooden tables. Look up, and the ceiling is made up of hand-painted and carved panels, made by the Torajan people of South Sulawesi. Depending on which way your seat is facing (choose to sit with your back to the window if possible), you can feel far removed from Hong Kong’s hustle and bustle – although that doesn’t necessarily equate to being on the beach in Bali!
Bali’s Potato Head is known for its seriously delicious cocktails. Kaum has all the PH classics, such as the Kookaburra, as well as a selection of new ones. For nostalgia’s sake, I did have to have a Kookaburra, but also enjoyed an Indo 75, which is an Indonesian take on a French 75.
The food menu is all designed for sharing and thankfully it isn’t overwhelmingly large. We started with some “batagor” – fried prawn and mackerel dumplings served with roasted cashew nut sauce. These were beautiful, the cashew sauce adding an interesting alternative to the usual peanut sauce.
We took one look at the braised beef rendang and immediately ordered another, thinking it wouldn’t be enough for four people. Considering the amount of food we still had to come, one probably would have sufficed, but this dish was out of this world delicious, so we happily devoured the two portions! The beef was wonderfully tender and so flavoursome, served with purple sweet potato crisps to shovel up all the goodness.
The Gado Gado Kaum, an Indonesian staple, was also excellent, here served with crispy garlic crackers to add a nice contrasting crunch.
Bamboo cooking is a thousand-year-old tradition that is now considered a dying art, only to be found in some of Bali’s most remote villages or the hill tribes of Toraja. We tried the Pa’piong Ayam, which was fantastic. The chicken was incredibly tender and juicy, marinated in punchy Sulawesi spices and grated coconut, and wrapped in a banana leaf before being cooked inside a bamboo shoot over hot rocks.
Babi guling, or suckling pig, is probably one of Bali’s most famous dishes. Kaum’s version was as juicy and delicious as you can get, although I did wish the skin had been a little more crispy.
Perhaps one of our favourite dishes was the Ikan bakar – a charcoal-grilled whole barramundi. It was beautifully flaky, marinated in subtle yet delicious Indonesian spices and served with a refreshingly fruity salsa.
We paired the above proteins with Kaum’s selection of sambals, ranging from salted fish, to roasted black nut chilli, to lemongrass, ginger and red chilli, each adding another dimension to the already delicious food.
The wok-fried long beans and the duck nasi goreng, although both also exceptional, were probably a bit unnecessary after so much food – although they did make for great leftovers!
We were a little surprised when the very attentive staff set our table for dessert before even offering us the dessert menu. First we thought we might be getting some complimentary treats, but then realised it was just a ploy to get us to order something. Either way, it worked and we tried two! The Bubur Sumsum consisted of some kind of rice pudding with salted coconut cream, which was rather an acquired taste. The Klappertaart was definitely the most popular dessert, consisting of coconut sorbet, coconut bread pudding and very rum-soaked raisins.
The total bill, including cocktails, beers, a bottle of wine, and far too much food, came to just under $700 per person. Service was a little bit mixed – at times we were surrounded by waiters, whilst at others it was hard to flag one down – but overall very good. On the beach or not, it’s easy to see Potato Head Hong Kong being a huge success, and Kaum, with its excellent Indonesian food, will certainly contribute to this.
G/F, 100 Third Street
Sai Ying Pun
Tel: +852 2858 6066