Saturday, February 22, 2014

Comfort chic at Harlan G's new restaurant

Before Christmas, I visited the newly opened Comfort by Harlan Goldstein, sitting in one of the buildings top of Lan Kwai Fong, at the invitation of their PR firm. (it's a long belated post, I know)

The place took over the site belonging to Strip House by the same owner. It's a somewhat "interesting" decision to shut that down given it has just been awarded a Michelin star the year before, but with Harlan G being one of the more successful restauranteurs in town in recent years, he obviously knew what he's doing.

Comfort did offer quite a deviation from its predecessor, transforming a formal American-style steak house into a more casual joint - I see this as a hip version of a family restaurant. There's no specific theme or cooking style in the menu - well, it's said to be based on Harlan's own comfort food list - and with stuff ranging from a gourmet burger to curry to salad, this would be an ideal location for say, a get-together with friends so you can easily accommodate everyone's preferences.

We shared a few dishes from the menu family-style and quite a number of them did shine. I personally love the chicken wings which drew a good sweet-savory balance from the soy glaze. The ribs were cooked true to the traditional southern style with heavy spices infused into tender meat which fell right off the bone. I must say both of them were finger-licking good.

Dessert was perhaps the weakest link of the afternoon - probably still a work in progress. I wasn't too impressed with the frozen creation which mixes ingredients with liquid nitrogen to freeze up and served like a granita in a bowl. It's said to be Hong Kong-style milk tea flavored, but I could hardly taste anything after my palate being numbed by the ice. It's designed to draw the crowd with the ingredients poured in one by one then smoke started coming out of the bamboo bowl, but unfortunately the wow factor stopped after the "show" and before we got to taste it. The chocolate mousse with amaretto cherries was served in a neat jar but honestly, it's just a bit too predictable to my liking. In comparison, the apple crumble, served in a little sauce pan with a scoop of vanilla icecream on top and creme anglaise on the side, fared a whole lot better.

I would say this place sat comfortably between a fine-dining restaurant and an all-day-breakfast-type neighborhood diner. Probably it won't win you over by sophisticated ingredients or fancy cooking techniques, but if you are looking for a quick bite before or after a night of bar and club-hopping, or to satisfy your cravings for simple delicious dishes, you would like this place. With a wallet-friendly menu you don't really need to wait for a special occasion to check this out. I myself would love to come back again after the restaurant was well-oiled after running for a few more months.

Thanks Harlan for your kind hospitality.

When? December 7 2013
Where? Harlan Goldstein's Comfort, 5/F Hip Hing Building, 15-16 Lan Kwai Fong, Central
Menu Highlights? Slow-cooked Duroc Pork Ribs with Roasted Garlic

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