Anyone with any interest in Hong Kong’s dining scene will have heard the hype about Rhoda over the past few months. Former 22 Ships chef Nate Green has combined forces with wonder woman Yenn Wong of JIA Group (behind Chachawan, Aberdeen Street Social, Mak Mak, etc.) to create a fun, down to earth restaurant centred around grilled meats and seafood.
Rhoda is named after Chef Nate’s grandmother who inspired him to cook and become a chef. Family is very important to Nate, further emphasised by the fact that his brother Adam is the one behind Rhoda’s wine list, and a lot of his team, having worked with him at 22 Ships, are practically also family.
The interior of Rhoda is beyond cool. Designed by Joyce Wang (who designed Mott 32), the space is raw and urban, with high ceilings, bare concrete surfaces, charred woods and upcycled materials, such as light fixtures made from washing machine drums. You can’t help but get the feeling that if you’re dining in a place like this, you must be pretty cool!
Eyes are naturally drawn to the charcoal grill at the back of the room, the centrepiece of a stunning open kitchen. As I already mentioned, grilled meats and seafood are at the heart of Chef Nate’s menu, which changes daily and features only the freshest, local ingredients.
Obviously the bread and butter at Rhoda are not just regular bread and butter; here you get beer bread with seaweed butter. The bread, still warm from the oven, was wonderfully fluffy with a moreish yeasty flavour that I thought paired nicely with the umami taste of the seaweed butter. There were, however, slightly mixed feelings about the butter around the table, some finding it a little too fishy.
The chicken wings glazed with xeres vinegar were lovely and tender. Having been cooked on the grill, they carried that all-important charred flavour, which was rounded off by the sweet, sticky sherry sauce.
Baked Camembert is one of life’s greatest joys. There’s nothing quite as comforting as gooey, rich, melted cheese. Rhoda’s version, infused with sprigs of rosemary and garlic, had every potential to be one of the best I’ve tried. Unfortunately, however, the ridiculously strong air conditioning that was being blasted directly over our table ruined all chances of gooeyness and what we got was fluffy semi-melted cheese. I still love a cold Camembert though, so it didn’t stop me devouring it.
The rillettes of Mangalica pig’s head and shoulder was indeed some of the best I have tasted. Mangalica pork is fattier and more flavoursome than other breeds and this really shone through in the rillettes. Paired with a dollop of pineapple chutney and pickles, this was yet another of life’s great joys.
Although a little greasy, the pulled Hawke’s Bay lamb shoulder bun with pickled red cabbage was fantastic. I don’t actually think I’ve ever had pulled lamb before, but now feel the need to have more of it in my life.
I had heard that the slow-cooked octopus was good, but I was blown away by quite how good it was. The octopus was cooked to absolute perfection, tossed with cucumber, mint, coriander and pickled shallots, topped with chopped peanuts, creating a refreshing medley of Asian flavours.
The Mangalica pork chop also came highly recommended, and rightly so. Here the buttery pork was marinated in soy and garlic and cooked to a satisfying medium-rare that melted in the mouth.
Despite having already eaten enough, we had just opened a second bottle of Sancerre and therefore thought it necessary to try the snapper baked in kombu. The seaweed parcel was removed to reveal a whole, beautiful red snapper. We might have slightly annoyed Chef Nate by asking him to carve it up for us, but we couldn’t bare the thought of messing it up by attempting it ourselves. This fish was outstanding. On its own, it was delicious enough, yet drizzled in the accompanying oregano and lemon dressing, it was magical.
We paired our main courses with some sides of Mum’s potato salad and sugar snap peas with pancetta and quail eggs, both of which were excellent.
To end on a sweet note, we shared the vanilla cheesecake and the chocolate with mint and marshmallow. The cheesecake had an almost panna cotta like texture, that made it light and delicious. I was blown away by the chocolate with mint and marshmallow. Not only were the flavours spot on, but the combination of crumbly, crunchy, smooth and sticky textures kept it exciting and playful.
Service was excellent and personal, in line with the style of the restaurant. The arctic air conditioning was not particularly pleasant, but the staff advised this was a management issue that was being looked into. Our bill for four people with cocktails, two bottles of wine and far too much food, amounted to $1000 a head, which was actually more reasonable than I was expecting it to be. I think Rhoda is the kind of place you can go for a drink and a snack and pay next to nothing, or go all out and indulge – whichever way you do it, you know it’s going to be a good night.
G/F, The Upton
345 Des Voeux Road West
Tel: +852 2177 5050