Tai Hang is one of the few neighbourhoods in Hong Kong that actually feels like a neighbourhood – you simply can’t resist the charm of its narrow streets, low-rise buildings and hypnotising peace and quiet. And one of the latest additions to the neighbourhood is The Socialhouse, a casual and comforting restaurant for people to be… well, social!
We were lucky enough to sit down for a chat with Ray Fung, the owner of The Socialhouse. His concept was to create a relaxing atmosphere for people to mix, mingle and sit back and relax over great food – there’ll be no waiters nagging you to hand back your tables here! The décor here is trendy and welcoming; I couldn’t help but fall in love with their lamps, which were big funky light bulbs hanging over tables, casting a warm friendly glow across the restaurant. And don’t worry about getting lost looking for place – you can’t miss The Socialhouse’s striking wooden façade right on the corner of Shepherd and Warren Street!
Having been open for around six months, The Socialhouse has just introduced a new menu (cooked up by chef Ken), which we were super excited to try out! First up, we had the crab and avocado salad. Instead of fried crab cakes, you get your crunch in this dish from veggies on top of the freshly shredded blue crab. The crabmeat was well seasoned and had a wonderfully zesty kick to it. I’m never really a fan of mousse, yet the accompanying avocado one was surprisingly flavourful and paired well with the dish.
The second starter was the Blanc Beer Razor Clams. For those who aren’t too familiar with these funny looking creatures, they are incredibly popular in HK for having meat that’s the texture of clams but also boast the sweetness of a lobster. The dish itself was a little too strong for me, having been steamed in 1664 Blanc Beer, but that’s probably because I’m not a fan of beer (I know, shocking!). I did enjoy the side add-ons of red wine salt and chilli pepper flakes for a bit of spice. I’d definitely suggest trying the red wine salt – adding a sprinkle of this adds a hint of glorious sweetness and acidity to each bite you take!
On to the mains and first, we had the seared venison tenderloin. The meat was cooked flawlessly – sous vide then slightly seared to perfection. Rach and I couldn’t stop eating everything on this plate; the porcini sauce (porcinis being considered the king of mushrooms in Italy) added a richness to this dish that was fit for royalty and made it the definite crowning glory of our meal.
Next, we dug into our squid ink risotto. Presentation wise, this was a winner – two scampi sitting on top of dark creamy risotto. On the up side, the scampi was rich with sweet flavour, and the scallop was well cooked and seasoned. On the down side, the risotto could have benefitted from a little more moisture, and the squid was just a tad too chewy for our liking. Note to the ladies – if you’re here for a date, this is probably not the best dish to impress your date with! You’ll no doubt end up with black lips and teeth after you devour your risotto (but if you’re just with your girlfriends, who cares, right?)!
Finally, we ended with Ken’s signature dessert of the crème brulée of the day. We were lucky to try his saffron crème brulée, which had a hint of saltiness and was strangely addictive, with strands of saffron nestled at the bottom. Served in a cute teacup (no need to share!), this was a playfully light spin on a classic dessert.
We loved the classy environment that Ray has created – the space is large compared to some of the “cosier” joints in Tai Hang, yet it still feels intimate and warm, the perfect place to enjoy a long and leisurely dinner with friends (especially since they’ll soon be introducing a Sunday brunch too!). The food is definitely a notch above many of the more casual eateries in the area, whilst still keeping prices reasonable for the quality of the ingredients involved (appetisers are around $70-150, with mains coming in between $150-250).
So if you’re ever in the neighbourhood of Tai Hang (and if you have yet to explore the area, you must!), stop by The Socialhouse for some great food and a cool place to chill out with friends. The guys here definitely take good care of their guests, and the food on the new menu is well worth a try for any social-ista!
The Socialhouse, 12-13 Shepherd Street, Tai Hang, Hong Kong, 2808 2638