The plethora of talented chefs hitting our shores is quite amazing.
And it seems as if the minimum requirement to open a ‘hot’ new restaurant in Hong Kong is a chef with an impeccable pedigree and an eye for detail. Instagram ready food that’s crowd-pleasing is a must, along with an atmosphere that is hip, buzzy and oh-so-very-cool.
I’d spied some glorious food photos of a hot new restaurant on Insta a little while ago, the earthy name Beet catching my eye as well. But it was only after seeing the pedigree of Chef Barry Quek that Beet hit my list of ‘must try’ dining spots. I mean, a stint in Worlds50Best restaurant Attica from Australia, as well as time in perennial favourite of mine, Joel Robuchon; and I was totally sold.
We were catching up with usual dining buddies Alex and Aaron; it had been ages since our last outing due to travel and Christmas, and we wanted to share some BIG news (more on that another day) with them, so hitting an uber cool spot seemed…… right.
I was the first of our quartet to arrive and Beet was pretty much empty; which gave me some time to take in the feel of the dining room. All the hallmarks of contemporary fine diners were apparent – informal but cool dining, open kitchen with chefs on view and not a tablecloth on site. I also noticed that each of the placemats had a stem of wheat, which perplexed me until I figured out that it was their way of tracking who’d ordered drinks.
Once we’d all arrived and had our drinks orders under control; I casually set the scene and blasted our dining companions with our BIG news (got you wondering, right?) and they were gobsmacked….. And it meant that we were quite distracted for a while, which I think frustrated our waiters as we took ages to order.
There were numerous options on the menu, a la carte of course, but also two tasting menu options – of which we went the most expensive but still incredibly reasonably priced (by HK standards); five courses for $850.
Things happened pretty quickly once we’d ordered and a trio of small bites flew out of the kitchen; starting off with a ceviche of snapper mixed with apple on a light sweet rice cracker. There was a strong bite of the citrus that the fish had ‘cooked’ but balanced by a sweet aftertaste from the apple and cracker.
The chicken liver parfait with crispy chicken skin and grape was a big hit with the table; presented on a slice of log, the creamy parfait was sweet and delicious. The parfait was sitting on a crumbly biscuit that offset the creaminess of the key ingredient, crunch chicken skin further adding texture to the palate.
Last was the gougeres (French cheese puffs), which didn’t look amazing on the plate but were warm balls of love; the gooey soft cheese inside the choux pastry had a subtle bite and the shredded cheese on top just added to the overall sweet/savoury hit of the small bite.
Amuse Bouche done, the first course of the tasting menu quickly followed; the Geoduck was a dish which was universally (well, at least at our table) criticised. We all thought that the dish looked lovely, the vivid green colours contrasting against the simplicity of the white bowl. But we felt that the main ingredient overpowered the dish, was a little too fishy and was missing some seasoning. I quite liked the soupy whey that made up the base of the dish and the edamame was nice, but the slightly chewy geoduck (a big clam) didn’t hit the mark for me.
It was the only (food) miss of the night.
Up next was the bread course. Yep, you read that right, Beet considers bread a course (as part of the 5-course tasting menu anyway). Now, I think the fresh, warm and crusty bread was wonderful; in particular, when paired with the smear of room temperature salted butter that accompanied it. We all raved about that bread and butter (which was replaced once consumed), but to be honest, a course? Really?
Anyway, back to reality, and our next (real) course was the Hokkaido Scallops, served with grilled corn, spring onions and a wonderful creamy foam. There was a light caramelisation to the scallops, which were large but fairly thin, and the sweetness of the scallop worked well when contrasted against the slightly crunchy corn. I couldn’t quite place the foam, but it had a lovely earthy quality to it that enhanced the flavour of the scallops and made me want to lick the bowl clean.
There was no let up on the pace of food delivery, and shortly after the scallops were consumed, our Black Label Wagyu was placed. We were never asked how we wanted our steaks prepared, a bold move by the restaurant; but thankfully, we all really loved the medium rare beef that had bags of flavour from the veins of fat that were prevalent in the beef. There is something quite delicious about that sweet fatty taste of great wagyu…. We all really loved the quenelle of onion jam that accompanied the beef, and the leek hearts provided a little bit of astringency to counteract the fattiness of the beef.
A super dish!
Dessert was a total winner, and to be honest was probably my favourite part of the meal. Hay Ice Cream was served in a bowl with macerated strawberries and a hint of basil ‘soup’ underneath. Crunchy texture came from toasted grains, which were lovely against the super creamy ice cream that had a warming flavour of hay (hard to describe the taste). However, the dessert really elevated once the strawberries were mixed with the ice cream, totally yummo.
The meal finished with an aniseed tea (ignored by myself – yuck, aniseed) and a little square jam filled ‘cake’ that was scrumptious.
We were basking in the glow of a very decent meal (especially when considering the price) when we were politely but firmly asked to pay the bill and vacate the table for the next sitting.
Now, this was a bit of a buzz kill, primarily because at no stage during the booking process, being seated or during the meal, were we advised that we would need to leave by a certain time. Let me be clear, I have zero issue with this practice when advised, but it’s not cool to find out minutes before the table is to be re-used…
Anyhow, the minor quibble of the geoduck and being asked to move on aside; we really enjoyed our meal at Beet, there was a slight Nordic feel to the cuisine, which is obviously very ‘now’. I enjoyed watching the kitchen throughout the meal and we found the service to be really friendly during service.
I tell you, Beet will be a place that I’ll be going back to. You should get along and check it out yourself, but just check what time you need to give back your table…