• Jenni Lien

The Optimist | New menu items at this gorgeous Spanish restaurant in Wan Chai



Of all the cities in Asia, Hong Kong is renowned for the extensive variety of options available. With this in mind, I think a restaurant must really stand out if someone visits it more than twice. This could be for many reasons including the food, the service, one great experience, or all of the above. The Optimist is such a restaurant for me. I’ve been a number of times with friends, and also wrote about their all day menu for Foodie last year. This Spanish spot in Wan Chai manages to be stylish yet homey, both with regards to the decor and the food. When you visit, you know the food is going to be good and consistent.

Recently, they incorporated some new items to their menu. Here are some thoughts on a sampling of them.


Starters

Andulasian Cazon en Adobo ($170)

I’ve tried many types of fried fish before including cod, whitebait, and halibut. This was my first time eating fried swordfish. The thinly breaded nuggets were very soft and juicy, more so than any other fried fish I’ve had before. It also came as a generous portion. The lime mayonnaise was a nice summery touch.


Seared Hokkaido Scallops ($190)

These beautiful scallops were beautifully presented in their shell. They were perfectly cooked, and the smooth lemon butter sauce and crunchy pieces of leeks complemented the sweet scallop meat. One thing I love about scallops is the jammy caramelization that results from being lightly seared; these scallops had this.


Main Course and Side

Iberican Pork Chop ($310)

We loved the flavour of this pork cooked medium. It had good heft, without being too rich. A sprinkling of fat salt flakes was all that was needed as seasoning. The rustic potatoes served alongside the pork are an Optimist classic: thick cut, crisp, and very homey.


BBQ Cauliflower ($68)

The cauliflower florets were large and crunchy, and coated in an fragrant bbq seasoning. While it was tasty enough, we would have preferred this if the cauliflower itself had been barbequed and softened. However, the pickled onion slices and aioli were quite delicious.

Dolce

La Pina ($90)

With a meat and seafood-focused meal, it was nice to end on a fresh note. I don’t usually enjoy cooked fruit, but make an exception for pineapple. These large grilled slices were caramelized with a kaffir lime sauce and served with coconut ice cream and pistachio crumbs. A perfect, simple dessert.

Verdict

It’s nice to see The Optimist experimenting with new dishes while remaining true to its philosophy of offering fresh seafood, grilled prime cuts, and sharing dishes. Those who want to try as many dishes as possible while sticking to a budget could opt for one of their new tasting menus. The Classic menu includes three starters, two sharing plates, a main course and a dessert for $520 per person. The Northern Grill menu includes three starters, two meat sharing plates, the Australian Angus Tomahawk for the main course, and a dessert for $620 per person.

239 Hennessy Rd, Wan Chai, 2433 3324

Thanks to The Optimist's PR for inviting me to review. This post will also appear on afoodieworld.com.

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