The global organic food craze is taking Hong Kong by storm (and about time too!), with more and more places seeking to serve customers with nothing but the best quality organic food. Brand new restaurant Wild Grass on Arbuthnot Road is doing exactly this, serving ‘real food the way it should be – fresh ingredients prepared simply’.
As I walked up the beautiful tiled staircase into the adorably decorated restaurant, I already knew I would love it. The scent of aromatherapy candles and orange blossom immediately filled the room as I made my way to the bar to sip on a refreshing Wild & Fresh Cucumber Cocktail – the perfect antidote to a long Monday in the office.
Wild Grass, set up by multi-restaurateur and chef Jean Paul Gauci (with restaurants such as Casa Lisboa, Cococabana and Bistro Manchu under his belt), not only serves eco-friendly food, but also uses reclaimed wood from all over the world in the decor, giving the whole place a relaxed cottage-like feel with mismatched yet gorgeous furniture. The restaurant works with art galleries around Hong Kong to showcase unique pieces of art… but even more unique is the restaurant’s resident artist, who creates his modern paintings while you eat!
The seasonal menu varies daily depending on what’s freshly available, following the ‘farm to table’ concept and using mostly locally sourced, sustainable and 70-80% organic food.
Chef Jean-Paul grew up helping his father prepare bread in his bakery, first in Corsica and then in London, so naturally the bread we were served was delicious, made the more so by the herb and goat’s cheese butters, both made in-house.
Our first starter was finely diced Scottish ocean trout with capers and whiskey sour dressing, topped with perfect quail’s eggs and served with a fresh bread roll. The tender chunks of trout melted beautifully in the mouth, yet for me there was a little too much dill, which overpowered the taste of the fish.
I’m normally not overly fond of kidneys, a sentiment shared around the table, yet Wild Grass’ kidneys with bacon, malt vinegar, celeriac purée and onion were delicious – wonderfully tender without that overriding offal taste.
My favourite of the starters however, was the baked goat’s cheese on bacon puff pastry with beetroot. The cheese was lovely and creamy, contrasted with the flaky pastry and sweet juicy beetroot – amazing!
Moving onto the mains, the roasted halibut with fermented garlic was beautifully presented and tasted divine, with perfectly flaky fish and amazing slow-roasted garlic that had become a sweet paste just right for spreading over the fish.
The suckling pig with apple, parsnips and deep mustard had been cooked sous-vide for 16 hours before being tied together and roasted, leaving it exceptionally tender and juicy. The sweet flavours of apple and thyme beautifully reflected the cooler autumn days we have finally been blessed with.
As the slow-grilled rump with basil peppercorn relish was served, there were gasps of delight all around the table. Having been cooked on a low heat for six hours, the OBE organic Australian beef was amazingly tender, served atop a bed of thin chips soaked in the beef’s own jus, which were impossible to resist.
Last of the mains was a five-hour stewed organic beef shin topped with steamed goats cheese dumplings. This hearty stew was the ultimate comfort food, instantly making me smile…
…A smile that continued throughout the farm cheese plate, laden with Gouda, Bleu d’Auverge, Brie and Liverot, sprinkled with prunes, apricots, raisins and figs. I don’t think I could live without cheese!
We had been complaining about being full even before the cheese was served yet upon laying eyes on the three desserts, our second stomachs appeared out of nowhere! The crème brûlée tart, a crumbly layer of biscuit topped with soft buttery custard and a thick layer of burnt sugar, was a divine modern take on the traditional version we all know and love.
Following this came a stewed apple turnover with vanilla cream. Hints of cinnamon amidst the sweet delicately crispy pastry were lovely, although I would have much preferred it to be served with a scoop of thick vanilla ice cream.
However, my favourite of the three desserts was a hot rhubarb oatmeal crumble with dairy frozen cream. Although the latter was a little confusing, this dessert offered generous helpings of both crumble and fruit, putting it up there with some of the best crumbles I have ever tasted.
Service at Wild Grass is not yet perfect, but it has only been open a couple of weeks. Prices for individual main courses hover around the $250 mark, yet you can get a 3-course set lunch for $220 or a 3-course set dinner for $390, which I reckon is an absolute bargain for such delicious organic food brought straight from the farm to your table. Wild Grass, you will most definitely be seeing more of me.
Wild Grass, 1/F, 4-8 Arbuthnot Road, Central, Hong Kong, 2810 1189
Check out more from Ale on her fab blog, The Dim Sum Diaries!