Restaurant review: A Side/B Side in Sheung Wan – delicious, inventive food
Despite the uncomfortable chairs, this is a place worth checking out not just for its food but also for the friendly service, eclectic collection of books and great music
A Side/B Side is a pared down, quirky gem of a restaurant, although it’s not without its faults. During lunch (or “A Side”), the entrance is on one side of the restaurant, at dinner, you enter from another side (why?) and the menus are entirely different. The high chairs around the counter have low backs, and it doesn’t take long for them to become uncomfortable.
But those are about the only quibbles I have with the place, which has an eclectic selection of books (including The Communist Manifesto, The Fountainhead, The Book of Tea, and Complex Behavior of Switching Power Converters), plays great music over the sound system, and serves up delicious, inventive food with friendly, knowledgeable service.
The short menu is written on the wall and descriptions for many of the dishes are basic (“chicken”, “steak” and “fish/shellfish”), presumably so they can change the sauces and accompaniments as they wish. There are seven “farm to table” organic and locally grown vegetable dishes priced at HK$95 each, and three options each for snacks, main courses and desserts.
The weakest dish was the radishes with tofu dip and sea salt. The radishes were crunchy but watery, without much flavour, and the tofu dip was too subtle.
We liked the okra with its funky, mildly spicy flavour that came from fermented soybeans and chilli oil, although the portion was a bit paltry. A sweet roasted red pepper came with good quality mozzarella.
Our favourite vegetable dish was cauliflower that had been fried until soft and intense, served with curry Parmesan sauce. Also delicious was the snack of house-made rillettes (HK$70), which were fatty and well seasoned.
For our main course, three of us split the chicken dish (HK$200). We agreed that it was the best chicken dish we’ve tasted in a long time, and even the breast meat was moist. It was the sauce that made the dish: a complex but subtle mixture of smooth cauliflower puree, garlic, lime leaf and crunchy black Sichuan peppercorn seeds, which give only a hint of the flavour of the husk, the more frequently used part of the peppercorn. Excellent.
We also liked the dessert of smooth, rich chocolate crème brûlée with Sichuan peppercorn topping and grated orange zest (HK$85).
A Side/B Side, 53 Sai Street, Sheung Wan, tel: 2857 5055. About HK$250 without drinks or the service charge
So many restaurants have opened in Sheung Wan of late. These are a few we have tried