Am Reviews: Shades of Excellence

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Hue delivers inspired Modern Australian cuisine, crisp, attentive service and jaw-dropping views to Hong Kong’s harbourfront.

You could be forgiven for rarely venturing over to Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong’s often-chaotic tourist hotspot. Home to some of the city’s leading hotels, the TST harbourfront is famed for its crowds of saucer-eyed visitors. However, the arrival of Hue and its more casual grab-n-go sibling Ink at the soon-to-reopen Museum of Modern Art might be about to change your perceptions of the ‘Dark Side’.

Down by the Water Line

We arrive early to make the most of a dramatic sunset, with a couple of cold Gweilo beers and a table just steps from the water’s edge at Ink. As the last of the light finally drained from the sky, we make our way up one level to Hue, where guests are greeted by an intimate lounge with floor-to-ceiling views of the harbour, and the first of two private dining rooms, which caters to 26 diners. Restaurant manager Elliott leads us past the restaurant’s cocktail bar and into a long, slender space that’s as much a theatre as it is a dining room, thanks to tiered seating that squarely places the emphasis – until dinner is served at least – on the dramatic views of Victoria Harbour.

Hue Hong Kong

The newest creation of dynamic hospitality couple Chris Woodyard and Bronwyn Cheung, whose Woolly Pig HK is behind notable establishments Big Sur, Bathers and Madam S’ate, Hue is the culinary domain of Australian chef Anthony Hammel, who takes diners on a kaleidoscopic journey of inventive and unashamedly modern cuisine, inspired by the country’s rich cultural diversity, laced with Australia’s best produce, and paired with an extensive and very reasonably priced list of Old and New World wines, the vast majority of which are available by the glass. Hammel cut his teeth working under Aussie celebrity chef Mark Best, at both his Pei Modern restaurant in Sydney and aboard cruise ship Genting Dream, on which Best has an eponymous steakhouse, and Hue is a chance for the young chef to make his mark on the city’s finicky foodscape.

Art Meets Cuisine

Dressed in deep forest green and honey-hued birch with touches of Art Deco-esque copper and cool ceramic by Australian designer Samantha Eades, the restaurant’s 130-seat dining room pays homage to its artistic locale with captivating wallpaper designs – Oh La La by renowned American abstract artist Kiki Slaughter, Mystic by Jen Merli, and Infinite Path by Stacy Solodkin – from Nordic design collective Feathr.

Hue Hong Kong
Grilled Octopus with Saffron-Fennel Risoni

The fact that Hue isn’t just another harbourfront tourist trap is apparent as soon as house-made sourdough with smoked New Zealand butter (HK$40), a round of beautifully made martinis, and our selection of entrees arrive.

Hue Caesar (HK$130) takes the classic salad and recreates it as four bite-sized beauties, with cos lettuce leaves lovingly cradling applewood smoked egg spiked with bacon-cooked breadcrumbs and thyme, and topped with a single slender, silvery Spanish white anchovy. As appealing to the eye as it is to the palate, the mini salad is dusted with Vadouvan, a classic spice blend with South Indian and French influence, for a touch of heat. I’ve never been a fan of Caesar salad, mainly because of the overpowering dressing, but this elegant take on the loose-leaf staple is nothing short of brilliant.

Caesar with Anchovies, Smoked Egg and Vadouvan

Bounty of the Land & Sea

Next up is kombu-cured ocean trout (HK$170) with Taramasalata-styled whipped cod roe, salmon eggs and fried potato cakes. I could have had this dish as a main (fortunately it also features on the restaurant’s brunch menu), with the silky roe and fish the perfect juxtaposition to the hearty potato cakes, which had just the right amount of crunch.

Mayura Wagyu carpaccio (HK$185) from South Australia’s Limestone Coast is seasoned with yuzu kosho (chilli peppers, yuzu peel and salt) cream and topped with a large nori cracker that’s subsequently cracked into bite-sized spoon-like pieces to be packed with raw beef goodness. 

Our final entrée is grilled octopus (HK$185) on a bed of risoni, a short-cut pasta that offers an interesting alternative to traditional risotto rice. The octopus is smoky and succulent, and cooked to perfection, while the pasta has been lovingly seasoned with saffron and orange and given earthy depth with the addition of fennel.

Hue Hong Kong
Mayura Wagyu with Yuzukosho Cream Puffed Nori Cracker

The mains arrive just as the Symphony of Lights commences, with the Hong Kong Island cityscape lit up with spotlights and lasers and looking close enough to touch through the restaurant’s towering picture windows.

The Main Event

For the main event, we kick off with aged duck breast (HK$360), served with pan-roasted quince and sweet Chinese black garlic, which is a perfect marriage of east and west, with touches of sweetness and an earthy gaminess from the proud bird. Another star of the evening is the ‘7 Bone’ Wagyu 8-score (HK$450), which is cooked perfectly (medium rare thank you very much) and paired with a heart-thumping smoked bone marrow sauce, roasted onion leaves that are almost candied, and the mellow warmth of horseradish cream. Should the gods see fit to sink my Star Ferry or flatten me with a runaway Mr Softee van, I’ll likely die with a smile thanks to this perfect slice of beef.

Hue Hong Kong
7 Bone Wagyu 8 Score with Smoked Bone Marrow Sauce and Roast Onions

Sated and sombre with the thought of all that spilt ice cream, we declined Elliott’s offer of dessert. However, diners with a sweet tooth will find the likes of crème fraiche mousse with fresh raspberry, rhubarb and Earl Grey ice cream; yoghurt ice cream with yuzu curd, oat crumb and fresh mango; and, in an ode to Chef Hammel’s mentor, a classic 72 per cent bitter chocolate tart served with vanilla cream and hazelnut ganache, continuing what has to be one of our favourite Hong Kong openings in a long, long time.

While this is harbourfront dining so you can expect a price tag to match. However, Hue’s seamless blend of intelligent, intuitive service, fare that’s both inspiring and satisfying, and views you won’t be able to stop snapping with your phone, is a sure winner.

Hue Dining, Bar & Lounge, 1/F Hong Kong Museum of Art, 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui; +852 3500 5888

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About Author

Nick Walton is a Hong Kong-based photojournalist and Group Managing Editor for Artemis Communications, producers of Alpha Men Asia, JETSETTER Magazine, Explorer Magazine, The Art of Business Travel, Mirandus, IKHLAS, The Journal and The Edition.

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