New restaurants in Central: Agave serving the same casual and tasty Mexican fare at new location in Hollywood Road
Restaurant’s casual ambience and classic menu of tacos, nachos and chalupas are just as good as ever and the single dessert – churros served with Mexican-style dulce le leche – doesn’t disappoint
I used to occasionally visit Agave, when it was in Lan Kwai Fong. I didn’t go there for the reasons that other LKF denizens did – to get drunk on the margaritas or the tequila shots (I have hazy memories of the tequila chasers being delicious); I went for the chalupas.
The restaurant has recently moved to Hollywood Road. Like the original, it’s a casual place: you perch on high chairs, instead of plates, food is served on (and eaten off) small metal trays covered with a sheet of greaseproof paper. Disposable utensils, napkins and wet wipes are in a metal canister on the table.
Don’t come here expecting Mexican fine dining; the menu has a lot of tacos, which is fine with me because they are one of my favourite food groups.
We started with the roasted cactus salad (HK$148). The pieces of cactus paddle (which had been shaved of their tiny, painful spikes) had a slippery texture and mild flavour, and came with sliced avocado, tomato wedges (which looked underripe, but had a surprising sweetness) and sliced red onion, all lightly coated in a tangy, refreshing dressing.
The chalupas (HK68 for four) were offered with chorizo, pollo adobo or guacamole with queso fresco (fresh cheese). We went for the chorizo. The fried masa boats were as good as I remembered from the old Agave, with a delicate crispness. The chorizo could have been fattier and spicier, but the combination was a delicious mouthful.
We tried three types of tacos, and with our prodding, the friendly waitress asked the kitchen if we could add an extra taco to the usual order of three (we paid accordingly).
With a taco, the tortilla is just as important as the filling, and the tortilla here was very good. They were house-made corn tortillas that were soft but resilient so they didn’t fall apart with the damp filling. Our favourite was the al pastor pork (HK$78 for three). The slightly spicy meat was mixed with small pieces of pineapple, which added a sweet-sour flavour. A close second was the pescado (HK$98) – fried beer-battered sea bass with fresh cabbage and just a little too much chipotle mayonnaise. Carne asada (HK$108) had tender beef but was a little dull in comparison to the other dishes.
The last dish to come was the nachos machos (HK$178), to which we added chorizo (HK$48). For that price, the tall pile of crisp corn chips could have used more toppings (Oaxaca cheese, fresh serrano and guacamole) but we still managed to finish the entire plate.
They offer only one dessert: churros (HK$68). One guest had spent the previous weekend in Spain and started complaining that the churros should be served with hot chocolate, instead of the coronado cajeta (it’s similar to dulce de leche). I noticed that he had a second piece, though.
Agave, 26 Hollywood Rd, Central, tel: 2866 3228. About HK$250 without drinks or the service charge.
While you’re in the area