Hong Kong restaurant reviews

Restaurant review: Bayta in Sheung Wan – inventive, thoughtful and delicious

Mediterranean outlet serves up refreshing takes on European and North African dishes, although the brief menu could be livened up

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 July, 2016, 4:01pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 July, 2016, 5:55pm

We weren’t sure what to expect when we arrived at Bayta, an attractive, small restaurant on the far end of Hollywood Road, almost where it meets Queen’s Road West.

We were the only customers when we arrived at 7.30pm, but the servers gave us a warm welcome. (By the time we left, the restaurant was almost full.) The dish descriptions weren’t that enticing, but that was deceptive: the food was inventive, thoughtful, and for the most part, delicious.

The menu is brief: in addition to the antipasti selection, there are just four choices each for starters, mains and desserts. There’s also a daily chef’s menu of three courses for HK$490 plus 10 per cent.

Newly opened Bayta in Sheung Wan – well-presented Mediterranean fare

We liked the dips in the antipasti selection, although they were the least interesting part of the meal, despite being served with crunchy house-made cumin crackers, as well as pita. The dips can be ordered individually, three for HK$200 or five for HK$300. Burnt eggplant caviar was smooth and smoky. Preserved lemon sardine rillettes will appeal to those who love canned fish (that would be me), but those who don’t (my guest) will hate it.

Tuna pastilla with iced coriander green gazpacho (HK$180) was something that we both liked. The filling for the pastilla was slightly dry, but the gazpacho – which turned out to be a granité – and the accompanying tangy and refreshing salad of fennel, cucumber, yellow squash and purple shiso leaves – more than made up for that.

Green asparagus cannelloni (HK$160) was another inventive and attractive dish. The asparagus had been shaved then wrapped around diced asparagus and green peas, before being served with strawberries, strawberry jelly and geranium water.

Our main course of duckling fillet with caramelised dry fruits and vegetable tagine (HK$290) is sadly being taken off the menu in August. The duckling – cooked to medium-rare – was topped with what the waiter described as “dried fruit crumble”, the sweetness of which went well with the richness of the meat. The duck was served with purple cauliflower, pumpkin and yellow squash, and an intense but light duck jus.

For dessert, the pistachio baklava with rose espuma (HK$120) had crisp pastry, plenty of nutty filling, and wasn’t too sweet.

252 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, tel: 5597 9939. About HK$475 without drinks.

There’s no service charge, so tip accordingly.