[Closed] A Side / B Side, Hong Kong
Experimental fine dining in Sheung Wan
Despite Hong Kong’s sweaty summers, I’m still willing to trek around the steep streets of Sheung Wan for the right reason. The streets in this area are so charming, often filled with independent galleries, antique shops, and, of course, restaurants. On a recent evening, I wandered up Sai Street to visit the understated A Side / B Side.
Location and vibe
Before I moved to Hong Kong, Sai Street was one of my favourite streets as a tourist because it has so much character. There was bright paint from new restaurants, aged metal doors outside dated walk-ups, rough concrete steps lining the Street, and so on. A great mix of old and new, and I’ve seen a few photography/fashion shoots over the years. Today, it’s sad to see a few shuttered businesses but the A Side / B Side remains at the top of the street (across from long standing gallery Sin Sin Atelier).
The space and the Chef
Guests are seated around a large open kitchen, but it’s not overly hot or steamy. The restaurant seats around 15 people total, and the chef, Jon Irwin, and his assistant are a small but efficient team doing everything that needs to be done. Jon’s worked in Michelin-starred restaurants including Akrame (both the Paris and Hong Kong locations) and now showcases his creative cooking as both the Managing Partner and Chef de Cuisine at A Side / B Side.
We tried the six-course Chef’s menu ($795).
First up was a Norwegian salmon atop an avocado, apple and cucumber jelly. The salmon was very fresh and fatty, and delicious with the thin layer of nori. It contrasted well with the spa food-like jelly, though the cucumber taste was quite strong and may not be to everyone’s liking.
The foie gras nuggets were fantastic! Each nugget contained a sinful amount of foie and had a fragrant, chewy crust. The sauce underneath the nuggets was made of strawberry and black pepper grains, while some lemon sprinkled on top helped cut through the heaviness. A special dish you don’t see everyday.
I consider this warm mushroom salad to be like a forest in a bowl. The base is a chopped mushroom soil, where snails and chunks of Madeira glazed-mushrooms live, and the whole dish is protected by thin mushroom leaves (“carpaccio”). There were many textures in this dish which took some getting used to, but the overall flavour was very pleasing. It was rich and intense, sweet and savoury, and very moreish. One of my favourite dishes of the night.
The first main was strips of raw hamachi with radish ribbons in a honey dashi sauce. Unfortunately the hamachi was warm (maybe from the sauce?) and the natural sweetness of the radish was a bit much against the sweetness of the daishi sauce.
The second main was a French pork belly with asparagus (sliced, in a puree, and served whole). It smelled so good that I ate the whole thing without remembering to snap a photo. Oops. But the main thing to know is that the pork used was of great quality, very soft and tender, and cooked in a way that allowed the natural pork-flavour to shine through.
For dessert, we were served a truffled chocolate mousse. The mousse itself was intense and addictive, and had a ‘can’t quite put my finger on it’ quality. Artichoke and dried apple slices added that something extra.
Eating at A Side / B Side is an opportunity to try some inventive dishes. Currently, only the Chef’s menu is offered but I’d love to see a la carte options in the future. Many of the dishes are intensely flavoured and have an unusual mix of flavours and textures so it may better for adventurous diners. Hong Kong is a city where diners are spoiled for choice, but for those looking for out-of-the-ordinary dishes - and willing to take a risk eating out of the box - may enjoy trying this intimate spot in Sheung Wan.
53 Sai St, Sheung Wan, 2857 5055
*By invitation for Foodie