Tuesday, August 16, 2011

New Retro Dining

Food and travel guest blogger hkLifestyleGeek gives us her next scoop on fantastic restaurants around town and travel tips. Contact her at hklifestylegeek@hkfashiongeek.com

Hong Kong-born restaurateur Alan Yau has returned home -- and brought with him his favourite dishes from Europe in his restaurant Bettys Kitschen at IFC.

The restaurant's name is a play on Betty which was a common name in the 1960s and "Kitschen" is a play on "kitsch" and "kitchen". However the decor is hardly retro but rather quite modern thanks to architect Andre Fu at AFSO. The entrance has a market feel with wooden boxes filled with fresh produce, and hundreds of basil plants are found growing all over the restaurant. While the colour scheme is cream-coloured, there are various textures at play, from the textured walls to the wooden floors and chairs.

Perhaps the "new retro" look can be found on the wait staff, who wear a turqoise blue and black plaid uniform that they are encouraged to individualize rather than look exactly the same.Nevertheless we were there to focus on the food and if you do go, be prepared to indulge.

For drinks there is an interesting list of cocktails that include Dita von Teese -- vodka, lemongrass, lime and green grape juice (HK$98), or Joan Holloway, which is a concoction of Martini Bianco, white wine and gree grape juice (HK$98). For non-alcoholic drinks, the guava collins (HK$68) is a mixture of guava juice, kaffir lime leaf, coconut and lime, but seemed more heavy on the coconut than guava juice. Those with royal tastes might prefer Princess Tam Tam, which is carrot, orange, ginger and rosewater (HK$68).

Iberico ham might be hot these days, but Bettys Kitschen does something different and brings in Kintoa ham (HK$128) which is air-dried at a high altitude in the Basque region in Spain. The thin slices of ham are tender and hardly salty. However we weren't quite impressed with the pea soup with Brittany lobster a la francaise (HK$188), as the two main ingredients didn't seem to go well together and seemed better as separate dishes.
But we did like the compressed watermelon salad (HK$108), a hefty chunk of watermelon with most of its juices sucked out and had balsamic vinegar drizzled on it and topped with minimalist greens and slices of figs.

Another nice appetizer is the mackerel gravalax with duo potato salad (HK$138). the mackerel was wonderful and tasty, though the onions in the salad were a tad too sharp and needed to be toned down.
In the main course department, the signature dish is the stuffed calamari with chorizo Venere black rice and lobster sauce (HK$208). The calamari was very good with the minced chorizo in it, the black rice tasting rich from the creamy lobster sauce.

The roast harissa curst rack of lamb (HK$368) was a flavourful dish too, not too spicy and the meat cooked perfectly in a warm pink colour, juicy and delicious.

For those looking for even more decadence, try the taillevent meat pie (HK$288) which is more ideal for colder temperatures, as it's filed with rabbit and foie gras and wrapped in a pastry. Very rich, but delish too.

I hear the duck confit is excellent (HK$398 for two, HK$798 for four), but you definitely need to be hungry to finish it.

And then if you still have enough room for dessert, the cheese platter (HK$188) is a good choice, featuring more obscure soft to semi-hard cheeses. They're served with a chilli jam, brandied cherries and walnut bread. Or for a lighter finish, the floating island (HK$98) could be your best bet, whipped egg white sitting in a pool of vanilla sauce.

Bettys Kitschen
Shop 2075, Podium Level 2
ifc mall
8 Finance Street
2979 2100

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