First impressions of Rhoda, Sai Ying Pun, opened by Yenn Wong and 22 Ships’ Nate Green

Small print on menu and a few overwhelmed flavours notwithstanding, here’s a place with potential; the best seats in the house are around the open kitchen, where you can watch the chefs cook on a charcoal grill

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 July, 2016, 12:00pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 July, 2016, 12:00pm

Serial restaurateur Yenn Wong continues her winning streak – which includes Aberdeen Street Social, Chachawan and Mak Mak – with Rhoda in Sai Ying Pun.

A joint project with 22 Ships chef Nate Green, Rhoda is named after Green’s grandmother and is in an industrial-looking space with high ceilings in the Upton apartment building on Connaught Road West. The best seats in the house are around the semicircular open kitchen, where you can watch the team of chefs in the tight space working the charcoal grill and Green plating every dish before it’s served.

Favourite restaurants of Yenn Wong, Hong Kong hotelier, restaurateur and entrepreneur

We visited a few days after it opened and service was friendly and the food has potential. But while the menu lists comfort dishes in the form of grilled meats and seafood, does the print need to be so small?

Green gave us a complimentary beer bread bun (HK$29), made using Suntory dark ale, which had an aromatic smoky flavour that went well with seafood butter. He made suggestions on which dishes we should try and we followed his lead.

The chicken wings (HK$98) are glazed with Xeres vinegar, which gave the otherwise ordinary meat a surprising, slightly tart flavour.

Clams (HK$128) were taken out of their shells before being served on a bed of sweet corn, with slow-cooked egg and katsuobushi (shaved dried, smoked bonito).The flavours of this dish were rich and a dash of harissa gave it a spicy kick, but sadly the freshness of the clams was lost in the mix. In another dish, the natural taste of the Hokkaido scallops (HK$178) was also overwhelmed, probably because they were thinly sliced, although the combination of pink grapefruit, pickled young ginger and basil was interesting.

A new item Green had put on the menu that day was the slow-cooked wild Hereford ox cheek (HK$228) seasoned with cumin and star anise. It had a hearty flavour and soft texture, but unfortunately was very salty. It was accompanied with grilled heirloom carrots that retained their natural sweetness.

The chef also suggested his take on his mum’s potato salad (HK$68), a wonderful medley of textures topped with fresh greens. Another nice side is the crunchy snap peas (HK$58), which are blanched and seasoned with pancetta and poached quail eggs.

Appetite-wise we were fine at this point, but the scales definitely tipped after we tried the very creamy vanilla cheesecake (HK$108), which was perfect with the tart yamamomo berries (also known as yangmei, or mountain peach) and rhubarb.

Rhoda, Upton, 345 Des Voeux Road West, Sai Ying Pun, tel: 2177 5050