Sunday, March 8, 2015

Restaurant Week at Town

Our past experiences with Restaurant Week in Hong Kong were a bit mixed. While some were amazing, offered us excellent food and showcased the best they could offer, some were just happy to lure you in then gave you okay dishes with okay ingredients, not expecting you would ever return again. But last Friday we were at Chef Bryan Nagao's Town restaurant in Causeway Bay taking advantage of this year's Restaurant Week promotion and had a pretty good meal there.

As we had other engagements earlier in the evening, we chose to have a late dinner instead and arrived at the restaurant at 8:30pm, right on time for our reservation. The restaurant was not as full as I expected and the bar was empty, somewhat to my surprise - well when they called me twice to confirm after I made my booking online and gently reminded me of their policy of 10 minute waiting time for latecomers it's fair to assume their table was hotly sought after. Anyway, I thought the decor of the place was decent with good view outside and comfortable seating.

For those who are not familiar with the Restaurant Week concept, basically it's a weeklong promotional event when restaurants around town offer special fixed price menus to customers, usually at a discount, as a way to encourage them to try out places that they never tried before. Chef Bryan Nagao is no stranger to Hong Kong's dining scene, known for his pan-Asian cuisine given his Japanese and Hawaiian root, having been the first chef at Peninsula's flamboyant Felix Restaurant in the 90s and later on, as the head chef at Kokage in Wanchai, at one point one of the finer Japanese fusion restaurants in town. He opened up Town in the Cubus building in Causeway Bay a few months ago and I was interested to see how his cooking style has progressed since his earlier days, and Restaurant Week gave me the perfect excuse to do so.

For the dinner set, they offered a 3-course menu which came with a glass of wine at what I reckon was a pretty reasonable price. I didn't read through their regular a la carte menu but given the choices we had at the Restaurant Week menu, he followed the same traits of pan-Asian fusion cuisine, combining Asian ingredients and cooking in western dishes and fancy presentations.

I started with a sayori "ceviche" served with kiwi, yuzu kosho, smoked paprika and radish. It was refreshing and lovely. Sayori, or needle fish, was right in season in March/April so I was glad to see that offered in the menu. It was filleted, marinated in a citrus sauce and served in fancy layers with a yuzu-kosho sauce underneath and fine juliennes of red radish on top. I love the fish with a slightly bouncy texture and fresh taste and combined with the aromatic, spicy kick of the yuzu kosho, making this a perfect, refreshing starter.

We were given 3 different choices for main course. I remembered suckling pig being Chef Bryan's signature dish in his previous restaurants so I wanted to give that a try. Of course, here the dish was presented with an Asian twist, with the skin-on roast pork served with Japanese dashi stock with a touch of pancetta and miso, blanched baby spinach and clams. True, Japanese fusion was kind of a yester-year thing these days, but the dish was still well executed - the pork was tender and juicy, and I loved that broth so much that I finished it all with a spoon. My only complaint was there was some sand in one of the clams, and the skin of the pork was not crispy enough.

The dessert was simple but tasty. Slices of Asano strawberries was served in a bowl with crumbles and on top was a scoop of strawberry sorbet. Nothing fancy, but the strawberries were lovely and sweet. Nothing to write home about the house wine offered, which was a chianti, but nothing wrong with it either for the everyday kind of drink. I took a look at the wine menu which seems reasonable with choices at all kind of price points.

Service was okay - just a bit slow from time to time - but staff was friendly and cheerful. The kitchen seemed to be having some difficulties catching up on a few tables even though it's not a full house but everything was okay at our table. We thought the dinner was more than alright - and even somewhat exceeded my expectation, especially at the price we paid. I think this would be a good choice if I have to look for a place in this part of town for an easy, leisurely lunch with friends.

When? March 6 2015
Where? Town, 10/F Cubus, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Sayori "Ceviche", Kiwi, yuzu Kosho, Smoked Paprika, Radish
Drinks? La Pieve Chianti DOCG 2012

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