Rhoda, Hong Kong restaurant for meat lovers, to shut for financial reasons; chef Nate Green says: ‘I leave with a heavy heart’
‘Interesting series of dinners’ promised at grill-focused Sai Ying Pun restaurant before it closes next month, a decision Green and his backers JIA Group say is mutual; after some initial buzz, diners had apparently deserted Rhoda of late
Rhoda, the grill-focused restaurant in Hong Kong Island’s Sai Ying Pun neighbourhood known for its open kitchen where diners could watch dishes being prepared, will be closing its doors on September 8 for financial reasons.
In a statement, Rhoda chef Nate Green explained that shutting the restaurant was a mutual business decision between him and Yenn Wong, founder and CEO of JIA Group, which has a stable of restaurants, including Duddell’s, 208 Duecento Otto, 22 Ships, and new addition Old Bailey, which opened in Tai Kwun, the recently launched heritage arts centre in Central.
“Naturally I leave Rhoda with a heavy heart, as the team and I have worked tirelessly to make Rhoda a success and were always striving to make every day better than the last. It’s been a good and fulfilling ride, during which I have enriched my experience and learned some invaluable life lessons,” Green wrote.
He added that in August, until the restaurant closes, there will be “an interesting series of dinners” to entice diners to come by and bid adieu to him and his team.
JIA Group confirmed the decision was mutual in a statement that also said: “It is a decision that will allow Green to spend more time with his young family of four, as well as allow JIA Group to explore future use of the space.”
The British chef has been with the group for four-and-a-half years, having initially been hired at 22 Ships in Wan Chai thanks to celebrity chef Jason Atherton. Wong gave him the opportunity in 2016 to open Rhoda, named after Green’s grandmother.
The restaurant, with an industrial design by Joyce Wang, was best known for its meat dishes that were cooked over a charcoal grill. These included 45-day dry-aged Mayura wagyu rib eye, slow-cooked Te Mana lamb shoulder, and Brink’s Farm free-range chicken, accompanied with sides like grilled asparagus with seaweed butter and charred corn spiced with harissa.
Earlier this year Green added a vegetarian menu to his repertoire, with dishes such as smoked mushroom ravioli with pumpkin and broccoli, braised Fukuoka turnip with Madeira sauce and shallots, and vanilla cheesecake with Yorkshire rhubarb.
Despite his efforts to lure vegetarians in, and adding a Sunday roast lunch, there were reports in the last few months the restaurant was empty at times, in stark contrast to the first few months after it opened, when it was packed with diners.
In his open letter, Green says: “For me, this isn’t the end of Rhoda, it’s the beginning of a new phase. Rhoda is more than just a restaurant, it’s about my family, my passion and my belief in hospitality, so don’t be surprised if one day you see Rhoda rise from its charcoal ashes.”
Following the closure of Rhoda, Green says he will take a long-deserved break with his family before embarking on a new job at the end of September.
Rhoda, G/F, Upton, 345 Des Voeux Road West, tel: 2177 5050