Review: Francis, a new Middle Eastern restaurant in Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Delicious food and a fun vibe at this new Middle Eastern opening on Star Street
Being a fan of Middle Eastern flavours, I’d been wanting to check out Francis since reading about it pre-opening. But tiny (in this case, 30-seater), no reservation spots aren’t always my favourite given the inconvenience factor, and all my friends that had gone had the same two things to say: great food and get there early if you don’t want to be waiting hours for a table. So after deciding on Francis for our next date night spot, my boyfriend and I tried to get there around opening with fingers crossed there wouldn’t already be a line.
Reality: At 6 p.m., I was the first person there, and I don’t think the restaurant was full until 7ish. So there’s no need to be super, super keen like me heh although there is something nice about having a soon-to-be-buzzing restaurant to yourself for a little while.
Francis occupies a small space and is decorated simply, but there’s something so cozy about it. The part indoor/outdoor communal table would be lovely on warmer nights, allowing guests to soak in the Star Street precinct vibe. There are a few sit-down tables, though on our night they were occupied for a large dinner party. The third option was to sit at the bar. I chose this over the communal table purely because the bar stools had cushioned backs. It was a good decision in the end since the stools were really comfy and we got to chat with and watch Rupert, Francis’ ace bartender and formerly of The Woods, whip up drinks.
What the food menu lacks is size (it’s a one-pager), it makes up for in flavour. We tried seven dishes, and felt they were a good mix of light and rich flavours. Think yogurt, citrus and fresh herbs, in addition to chili oil, butters, and nut butters.
Our absolute favourites were the crispy lamb ribs, the smoked carrots, and the wagyu hanger steak.
While the portion size is small, the meat on the lamb ribs is literally crispy, fatty, and super flavourful. The yogurt and coriander pesto helped balance out the heaviness, and the fresh orange juice gave it the most subtle sweetness. We talked about getting a plate each the next time we go!
I think I’ve only had carrots this delicious one other time in my life, as part of Cafe Grey’s revitalising menu. At Cafe Grey, the carrots were a main, but at Francis it’s a generous pile that I ate with my fingers while dunking it in the pile of tahini (though it tasted more like almond butter to me...). There’s none of the crunch or tang of carrots, just soft sweetness that’s seasoned just right. I’m not sure if we were supposed to, but we ate everything including the tops, which were fried, savoury and quite crispy.
The hanger steak was very tender and flavourful. A friend of ours had gone and had this dish, and found it to be too heavy. I’m a fan of heavier flavours though and thought having melted, lightly spiced butter all over the meat was awesome.
The other dishes we tried were the smoked eggplant (tasty, very garlic-y), baked halloumi (liked the pomegranate with the oregano, but thought the overall flavour was a bit muted), cauliflower (sinful yet virtuous, fried but with fresh yogurt), and the manti dumplings (generous portion size, but would have preferred more meat in the dumplings).
Francis has great drinks, great food, and a great vibe. I thought the bar was perfect for a cozy date, and am sure it would be for a small girls night too. Would definitely love to come back, maybe even alone for the lamb ribs, smoked carrots, and a fresh cocktail.
4 & 6 St. Francis Street, Wan Chai, 3101 9521
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