Hong Kong foodies love the hype of a new restaurant opening, especially if said new opening is an authentic Mexican restaurant led by a chef that’s considered LA’s ‘taco king’! In fact, I’d say 11 Westside has to be the most anticipated Hong Kong restaurant opening of 2017. News hit the press about Mexican Chef Esdras Ochoa of popular LA restaurant Salazar’s foray into Hong Kong in April and it was expected to open by early July. Factor in obligatory construction delays and this hot new venue is finally open in a new residential building on Kennedy Town’s Davis Street!
11 Westside is housed in a sizeable 4,000 square foot space, complete with two bars, a pool room, an outdoor terrace and a casual dining area. At maximum capacity, this K town newcomer can seat up to 120 diners. The décor has an air of industrial chic, with high ceilings with exposed piping, stone walls and quirky touches such as fresco-style murals behind the bar and random culinary objects such as spoons or potato peelers in over-sized frames on the walls.
During soft opening (i.e. before the official opening on 6th September), the restaurant has been offering a set menu to showcase dishes that will no doubt become favourites. The menu started, as any Mexican meal should, with some chips and salsa – salsa molcajete, to be precise. This was as fresh as fresh could be with a tangy tingle, but very to no little spice. Chef Esdras came over and told us this salsa was “para los principiantes” (for beginners) and brought over a small pot of his spiced-up version, that truly hit the spot!
A good Mexican restaurant must have good guacamole. 11 Westside’s appropriately named Tableside Guac is whipped up right in front of you using a mortar and pestle, resulting in deliciously smooth and creamy guacamole that is by far one of the best I’ve had in HK.
These dips were paired with a refreshing Paloma cocktail, consisting of tequila, grapefruit and soda water. The bar is run by Daniel Eun, former bar manager at New York’s PDT amongst others, so drinks here are just as much of a highlight as the food.
I wasn’t particularly excited about the Seaside Caesar Salad, but must say I was pleasantly surprised. This was nothing fancy, just simple, fresh ingredients that paired nicely together.
The Echo Park sweet corn is an Asian-inspired twist on the traditional Mexican corn on the cob we all know and love. Here, the dish is served with butter-poached and then charred baby corn, topped with punchy queso añejo from Oaxaca, coriander and lime. I loved the creativity and the flavours were spot on.
Given Chef Esdras’ nickname, we were most excited about the tacos and I can now confidently say that these are the best tacos I have had in Hong Kong, or possibly even the world. The East LA seafood taco consisted of a crispy corn taco with shrimp, crab and mashed potato, folded in half and topped with a spiced tomato salsa, avocado and coriander.
To follow came a trio of tacos on soft house-made flour tortillas: pollo asado taco, carne asada taco and al pastor taco. Not only were the meats cooked to perfection and the salsas packed full of flavour, but the tortillas themselves were quite honestly the best I have ever had. Made in the style of northern Mexico, from where Chef Esdras hails, these tortillas were light and flaky in a way that you could happily devour taco after taco without feeling uncomfortably full. The favourite around our table was al pastor, made with achiote and pineapple roasted pork, guacamole, salsa molcajete and fresh pineapple.
Last of the savouries was a perfectly charred yet beautifully pink hangar steak, served with yet more salsa molcajete, grilled garlicky veggies and flour tortillas, to put together your own tacos.
We finished with a tasty corn flan served with candied pistachios and house-made popcorn, and churros III ways, that were out of this world. The churros themselves were perfectly crisp on the outside and doughy on the inside, served with an incredible churro batter and white chocolate ganache and churros popcorn. I have never tasted anything quite like that ganache before and would happily eat buckets of it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The soft-opening set menu was priced at $680 including three drinks. I’m not sure at this stage how much the a la carte menu will cost, but it is understood that Chef Esdras plans to keep prices nice and affordable. Service was utterly faultless as well, despite it being early days still. So, is 11 Westside worth all the hype? Absolutely. This place is so good that I left wanting to return again tomorrow! This is without a shadow of a doubt the best Mexican restaurant in Hong Kong.
1/F, The Hudson
11 Davis Street
Tel: +852 3996 7754