You wouldn’t automatically connect a chef from New Orleans with a Japanese restaurant. Chef Max Levy, however, has been working in sushi restaurants from New York to Tokyo. His popular sushi and cocktail bar in Beijing, Okra 1949, opened its Hong Kong outpost Okra about a year ago in Sai Ying Pun and continually attracts diners eager to try Chef Max’s modern approach to Japanese cuisine.
On the ground floor is Okra Kitchen, a casual izakaya-style bar that specialises in charcoal-grilled small plates and natural, unpasteurised sakes. Upstairs is Okra Bar, which offers a daily omakase menu available only for dinner and only with a reservation.
Since Okra Kitchen isn’t a huge space, at lunchtime, it only offers a set menu, which consists of a soup, a salad and a choice between two sandwiches.
The kale salad looked and sounded like just a pointless prelude to the main event. This salad, however, deserves some praise of its own. It was crisp and fresh with a tangy ponzu dressing that made it absolutely delicious.
The miso soup wasn’t your usual miso soup either. It was lighter and less rich than others, yet still satisfying.
Going back to his roots, the star of Chef Max’s set lunch menu is his fried chicken sandwich, which he calls El Pollo Loco Samich. This isn’t just any old fried chicken sandwich though; this is an absolute whopper of a fried chicken sandwich, made with a thick, beautifully golden-battered, boneless chicken thigh, topped with purple and green cabbage slaw and a touch of Louisiana hot sauce, sandwiched between a purple sweet potato bun from Sai Ying Pun bakery Po’s Atelier. The chicken was so juicy and tender, the bun so soft and fluffy, that this goes down as one of the best fried chicken sandwiches I have ever tasted.
We also tried the other alternative, the McBelly Roasted Pork Samich. Although we preferred the chicken, this was also pretty tasty, the pork having been marinated overnight in a blend of herbs, spices and yuzu. It was also tender and juicy, topped with pickled cucumber and daikon to give it a contrasting crunch and flavour. My only complaint is that, for the price of the set lunch menu, there were no fries or indeed any sides to accompany the sandwiches, other than a single pickled okra.
The set lunch menu is available Monday to Saturday from 12pm to 4pm for $138 per person, and can also be ordered on Deliveroo if you’re in the vicinity of the restaurant. Despite the restaurant being a bit far from Central, the lunch comes out quickly, so it’s still doable in a one-hour lunch break. I usually stick to healthy lunches for under $100 in Central, but there are times when I’m willing to splash out a little and indulge – for those times, Okra will certainly be on my hit list!
G/F, 110 Queen’s Road West
Sai Ying Pun
Tel: +852 2806 1038