Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Review: Eighteen Sharp by Franck Muller

When I learnt that Franck Muller was attempting to tackle the F&B market, I was intrigued. The brand was ambitiously opening two restaurants, one Italian, the other Chinese both with Japanese influences. I was given the choice of which to go for, whereby I promptly voted for the Chinese. Yes, even though Italian makes much more sense and would likely be easier to pull off hence ensuring a decent meal, Chinese would be the more challenging cuisine for them to pull off and so it was off to Eighteen Sharp we went.

The restaurant itself is a small intimate space with the ability to house 44 diners. When we went, it housed two, my friend and I making it an oddly disconcerting experience whereby towards the end of dinner, when the waiter was removing the folded napkins one by one from the table, we felt we were intruding and stopping him from leaving work.

We opt to go for the HK$680 set menu (they only offer set menus at the moment) and found the food to be okay, nothing to really write home about to be honest and left feeling that it’s more of a one-time visit than anything else.

We started with a plate of six appetizers, Lychee and Dutch tomato; Pork roll with preserved tofu; Beef roulade with crispy green in gravy; Steamed egg white with soy milk, crab roe and XO sauce and Japanese cuttlefish with Ta Ta sauce. The pork roll was definitely the tastiest as it’s a thin slice of pan fried pork belly. The rest were decent enough. Ta Ta sauce is just XO sauce and the lychee tomato was a tad off putting.

Next up was the deep fried salad oyster roll with minty guava dressing. It was beautifully deep fried but failed the grease test. You can definitely taste the oil and grease when it’s in your mouth. The dressing was a nice touch but not necessary. It was a bit messy to eat with bits of crunch flying off as we cut through the roll.

We then had the baked prawns with crab roe and Japanese sake. Unfortunately, we could clearly taste that these were frozen prawns and the dish was missing that freshness you would get with live prawns and the roe just wasn't strong enough to make up for it. The chef confirmed the prawns were frozen when we mentioned it. Pity.

The double boiled yellow cucumber soup with geoduck and clams had a fragrant sweetness to it and the best part was it was steaming hot. Lukewarm soup = Pet Peeve.

The poached baby vegetables in rich fish broth was exactly what it sounded like. Simple, nothing memorable but not bad.

Those who don’t like sourness would not like the deep fried mandarin fish with pines nuts in sweet and sour sauce. It was much sourer than normal sweet and sour dishes and would ensure an automatic puckering of the lips.

The last savory dish was fried rice with crab roe and deep fried shredded conpoy. Texture of the rice was great but the taste was bland especially when followed by the fish.

Finally we finished with a sweetened tofu with mango mousse and mint yogurt pineapple. Both were a bit meh. Overall, it wasn’t an unpleasant experience, it just didn’t have anything that would make us want to return which just might be the resto’s downfall.

Eighteen Sharp, 3/F, 15-21 Sharp Street East, Causeway Bay

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