Private kitchens are something you don’t hear of quite as frequently as you used to in Hong Kong. They are, however, if you look for them, still around and can be found in the most unlikely of places, but perhaps they are indeed becoming more “private”. Having heard rumours about an Argentinian private kitchen a while back, I only recently, through word of mouth, managed to track down El Nudo Private Kitchen and put it to the test.
El Nudo, which means ‘the knot’ in Spanish, was started by professional tennis coach Roberto Cahiza. It actually started off as a wine business with his cousin, following a trip to his native Mendoza. Yet, obviously, good wine goes hand in hand with good food, which led to the beginning of the private kitchen concept. The name pays tribute to Roberto’s grandmother and her love of knitting and cooking. If you have a look at the bottle of El Nudo Malbec, it features sweet little sketches of rocking chairs, knitting needles and tea cups to represent Roberto’s Nona Ana.
El Nudo is an experience that takes place on Roberto’s spacious rooftop in Happy Valley. This is the kind of location that makes most outdoor-space-starved folk, such as I, incredibly envious. After a hike up six flights of stairs, seeing the rooftop dressed in cute hanging lights, with a huge barbecue gearing up in the corner, you’re bound to be hungry for a true Argentinian feast!
Whilst we waited for all 17 of our party to arrive, we stood around drinking wine (no corkage on BYO) and sampled some of Roberto’s homemade empanadas. Whilst I rate the empanadas at Gaucho and Buenos Aires Polo Club, neither restaurant offers the kind of delicate, flaky, oven-baked pastry that I love about Argentinian empanadas, and that El Nudo absolutely nailed! These were stuffed full of beautifully flavoured minced beef and I would have eaten five of them if I’d had the chance; unfortunately, there was only enough for one each, but then I didn’t anticipate the amount of food that was still to come!
Once we were seated on the cosy sheepskin-lined chairs (these probably wouldn’t be too appealing during summer!), we were served piping hot skillets of provoleta straight from the grill with sliced baguette and homemade chimichurri. There is nothing quite like grilled, melted, perfectly gooey cheese… Other than the crispy bits that build up on the side of the skillet, of course!
Following this, we were served platters of grilled chorizo and mollejas (sweetbread), which again went down a treat paired with the chimichurri, although admittedly the sweetbread wasn’t to everyone’s liking.
Obviously the main event of any Argentinian feast is steak, steak and more steak. Roberto sources his steak from Argentina, so it is 100% grass-fed and 100% delicious. He served us a selection of ribeye, striploin and tenderloin, all cooked to a perfect medium-rare. Each had its own unique flavour and texture, making it hard to pick a favourite, but I’d probably choose the ribeye if I absolutely had to. The steak was beautiful on its own, but I couldn’t resist smothering it in yet more chimichurri. Sides of grilled vegetables and salads made us feel a little bit better about ourselves but ultimately took up stomach space that was better filled with steak!
Once our plates were cleared, Roberto had a little surprise for us: the volume of the music was turned up and four Tango dancers began to dance across the rooftop, supporting the theme of the evening. Apparently this doesn’t happen for every dinner party – perhaps it helped that my co-host is one of Roberto’s pupils!
The meal ended with a beautifully light and silky crème caramel served with whipped cream and, upon leaving, we were each given a pot of delicious dulce de leche to take home…although some people may have eaten theirs straight out of the pot right there and then…!
Dinner at El Nudo costs $680 per person. The menu may be simple, but it is what one would expect to have at a typical Argentinian parrillada with good friends. The setting is unique, the quality of the food excellent and Roberto’s wine – if you get the chance to try some – is fantastic. He will accommodate groups of between seven to 18 people on Friday and Saturday evenings only, so grab your friends and get booking!
For reservations, contact Roberto on +852 6339 7954 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The full address will be given on confirmation of the booking.