Chef Christopher Mark literally had us over the coals this week when he hosted a press buffet event on Tuesday night for the new Blue Smoke Bar-B-Que steakhouse on the third floor of the Grand Progress Building in Lan Kwai Fong. We asked the Canadian if his pork ribs and beef brisket might be a tad overdone after 12 hours on his restaurant's stove. Certainly not, he said, because the meat is smoked rather than cooked, and with Hickory wood that exudes a great flavour when burned.
The restaurant seemed generous with its servings, and we wondered if the dishes would appeal to health and image-conscious Hong Kong diners. Steak needs sizzle here - and a little marketing, Mark, the restaurant's executive chef, said. 'You know, if you show a local foodie a piece of raw Wagyu beef, they might say, 'aww, there's so much fat,' but if they know it's from Japan and all that, they'll be craving for it,' he said.
Managed by Dining Concepts, Blue Smoke Bar-B-Que seems to have focused more on its food than its interior design. Its grungy retro-jukebox ambience is offset by an imported meat-smoking stove from Texas, a buffet, and salads and seafood for Hong Kong tastes.
'Sometimes you have to make modifications everywhere. Even in America, from one city to another, you have different tastes. It's the rule for restaurants to make people happy,' said Mark, who has been in Hong Kong for the past four years and says he has developed a liking for Cantonese staples such as rice, steamed fish and vegetables.
The restaurant's menu seemed popular at the press party, but then hungry journalists can clean most free plates as quickly as a school of piranhas.