New restaurants in Hong Kong: Brut, Sai Ying Pun – big tapas-inspired flavours in a small venue with a small menu
It may be hard to get a booking at this popular, cosy neighbourhood restaurant, but it’s well worth the effort. The octopus and sardines were stand-outs, and it has a relaxed vibe
It took several attempts before I was able to eat at Brut. I cancelled one booking within 10 minutes of making it to accommodate a picky guest; when I called again a week or so later, I was told the only seats available were at 9.30pm. I finally was successful on the third try.
Within 45 minutes after we sat down, the place was packed. It’s not hard to see why – service is friendly and the restaurant, which has a good neighbourhood vibe, is small and casual, with diners sitting on high stools at long shared tables. The dishes are listed on a one-page menu that you hang from a hook on the wall once you’ve finished looking at it.
Baby buns of the day (HK$28 each) had a type of Chinese-style pulled pork that was tender and juicy, in a soft bun. White anchovies with chimichurri and grilled leeks (HK$78) had great flavours, with potatoes tempering the acidity of the pickled anchovies and warmth added by the leeks. Another fishy dish – sardines on toast with tomato concasse (HK$68) was less interesting – it was like something you’d make at home for a quick bite.
We were glad we’d ordered the octopus with roasted chickpeas and cured cucumber (HK$128). The tender octopus was cooked perfectly, and went deliciously with the rough textured chickpea purée, with batons of cucumber and slices of pickled fennel adding crunch.
Iberico secreto (HK$228) came thinly sliced and fanned out to show the meat, parts of which were cooked rare (too rare for one guest; fine for me). The pork was toothsome, meaty and moist and the creme de piquillos added a smoky flavour. Roquefort mac and cheese (HK$88) was creamy and pungent, but should have been served hotter.
Brut, 1 Second Street, Sai Ying Pun, tel: 3460 5863. About HK$220 without the drinks or the service charge.
While you’re in the area