Nestled in the coolest corner of Wan Chai, Moon Street’s TMK Rap & Rolls is your new home for fresh, healthy dining.
After the ceaseless chaos of Central or Causeway Bay, the clutch of quiet back lanes that make up the constellation of Star, Moon and Sun Streets in Wan Chai are a breath of fresh air – literally. Too narrow for all but the most determined of drivers, the little precinct’s lanes – known collectively as the Starstreet Precinct – has become a foodie destination in its own right, with the likes of Artemis & Apollo, The Pizza Project, and Sushi Moon serving up a storm every day.
The newest addition to the scene is Pirata Group’s TMK Rap & Roll, sibling to Sheung Wan’s eclectic, punk-centric TMK Drinks & Rolls and a burst of colour and style at the end of Moon Street.
We rocked up on a busy weekday afternoon to find the restaurant turning over a decent trade, with a gaggle of hungry souls waiting at the door beside a mural by Elsa Jeandedieu of Notorious B.I.G. and Salt-N-Pepa. When it came to our turn to venture in, we were quickly guided to a pair of seats perched at a wide windowsill (groups of three or four will prefer the deep-set booth while solos will love the sushi counter), a spot that afforded some great people watching while we waited to order.
Like its Sheung Wan sibling, TMK is all about music – in this case, vintage hip hop – and the theme defines the restaurant’s interiors with a wall of retro boomboxes, custom-made illustrations of Grandmaster Flash, Public Enemy and LL Cool J, flashes of neon set against a black and red palette, and a collection of over 500 vintage cassettes lining the sushi counter.
The result is a kaleidoscopic thrill for the senses that brings the temakeria to life with a vibe that’s complemented by menus punctuated by contemporary takes on temaki rolls (although not on the lunch set) and nori bowls that are packed with flavour and texture.
TMK’s set lunch menu is a great deal at two courses for HK$148 and three for HK$168. However, we came with an appetite so we also supplemented from the a la carte menu, kicking off with chicken thigh karaage with spicy yoghurt; hamachi with ponzu, jalapeno, and crispy quinoa; and edamame hummus with tahini, cilantro, and crispy rice crackers.
The chicken was a winner straight off the bat – perfectly cooked, crispy, and given a roundhouse from the spicy dipping sauce. The hamachi was delicate and fresh, with a touch of heat delivered from the jalapeno that was offset by the citrus; while the hummus was subtle and earthy. My only niggle would be that the rice crackers were so thin that it was tricky business using them as scoops with the vicious hummus. I know, first world problems.
For the main we opted for three of TMK’s most popular bowls: West Coast, with marinated salmon and tomato, avocado, coleslaw, crack tofu, pea shoots and cabbage; the Katsu-san, with fried pork cutlet, umami rice, fresh cabbage salad, edamame, shichimi, and a touch of fish sauce; and B.I.G. with M7 Wagyu beef tartare, negi, braised shiitake, crack tofu, and toasted nori.
Each of the bowls was fresh, innovative in its ingredient selection, and completely satisfying. While the silky salmon of the West Coast was a triumph for my dining companion, the Wagyu tartare of Biggie’s bowl was my favourite, with the lingering fish sauce cutting through the fattiness of the beef without detracting from its brilliant flavour. The katsu-san also proved popular – we were forced to play rock-paper-scissors for the last bites – and is a great alternative for those who just can’t lunch on salad alone.
Now that dining restrictions are being lifted, you’ll also want to look out for some of TMK Rap & Rolls’ signature dishes, which range from soft shell crab handrolls and salmon tacos to a tuna hotdog. If you can’t decide for yourself, the Fat Beats option will leave the ordering to the Rap & Rolls team who, in addition to offering crisp, intelligent and very friendly service, know their nori.
If one of your resolutions for 2021 is to eat healthier, and if your Spotify selections rarely stray from circ 1990-something, then TMK Rap & Rolls is for you.
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