Restaurant review: Fish School offers delicious lessons in taste and texture

The wild eel is pure comfort food, salt baked mullet was memorably moist, and the starters were a conversation stopper. David Lai and Yenn Wong’s Sai Ying Pun venture is a must-try

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 January, 2016, 4:01pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 January, 2016, 6:26pm

Why do appetisers often seem to taste better than the mains? We pondered that oft-asked question at Fish School, David Lai and Yenn Wong’s must-try restaurant in Sai Ying Pun. Food wasn’t the only thing on which we based our conclusions.

From the 16 “Of the Moment” dishes created with seasonal ingredients, we chose four with difficulty – they all sounded tempting. All were wonderful.

SEE ALSO: Fish School to take Hong Kong-caught fish and cook them the French way

The monkfish liver and foie gras presse (HK$165) stopped the conversation because of its unexpected delicateness, complemented by a hint of tangerine peel and roselle purée sweetness. Also surprising was the absence of bitterness.

We quickly devoured two others dishes – marinated raw crab and sea urchin rice (HK$185), and grilled cuttlefish (HK$165) – although serving size played a part. The crab, mixed into the warm, chewy rice, was an intense flavour burst, with chilli hits. In contrast, the cuttlefish was all about texture: one side slightly underdone meant two sensations in each bite.

SEE ALSO: Favourite Hong Kong restaurants of David Lai, culinary director, Fish School

Our favourite, however, was the mantis shrimp popcorn (HK$175), which creatively interpreted a classic Cantonese dish. Well battered and crunchy, it was enhanced by strong, salty cured duck yolk.

Having paced ourselves well (before 7pm, the seatings are for two hours only), we grimaced upon learning our second course orders had been misunderstood: of three further dishes, only one, the Australian wagyu bavette (HK$330), had been noted. Worse, only three pieces of meat (perfectly medium rare) were served. The four in our group were right to frown.

But the backroom staff came to the rescue: minutes later a salt crust baked mullet (HK$450) appeared, memorably moist and “stolen” from the oven “because you guys are running out of time”. Then came the wild eel (HK$390), which like many other seafoods on offer, had been caught locally. Fatty and sweet, it was pure comfort food.

Conscious of the limited time, we inhaled the desserts. Suffice it to say, we would come back just for the mango/burnt coconut ice cream/coffee (HK$75). It was delicious, but we had to run.

So why did the starters score more points? Possibly because the countdown had been slow to start, fast to finish.

Fish School, 100 Third St, Sai Ying Pun, tel: 2361 2966. About HK$500 without drinks. There’s no service charge